There has been an extra bounce in the step of Tonganoxie High's football players this week at practice and for good reason.
The Chieftains snapped a 19-game losing streak last week with a 24-0 victory over Basehor-Linwood, Tonganoxie's first win since knocking off Leavenworth Immaculata, 26-13, Sept. 19, 1997. THS hadn't shut out an opponent since a 7-0 victory over Immaculata in 1995.
"It's a lot more upbeat," THS coach Steve Hughes said. "Throughout the whole thing we've been working hard. People just remember the wins and losess. We've been close and played hard. It's hard to continue being upbeat without an occasional win."
THS (1-4) didn't have much time to savor the win. The Chieftains have been preparing all week for Kaw Valley League contender Perry-Lecompton (4-1). Kickoff for tonight's Journal-World area game of the week is 7 p.m. in Perry.
Several plays stepped up in Tonganoxie's first win.
THS senior Adam Bundy, sidelined the first four games with a knee injury, rushed for 105 yards against Basehor.
Other key contributors for Tonganoxie were senior tight end/linebacker Neil Rieger, junior running back/defensive back Kyle Wedel; senior running back/linebacker Chris Calovich and junior defensive end Jimmy Walker.
While Tonganoxie is coming off its first win, the Kaws are treasuring last week's 26-7 victory over unbeaten Santa Fe Trail.
"I think I'll remember that one for a long, long time," said P-L coach Charlie Golder, who has his team in position to tie for the KVL title. "That was a good one."
Golder hopes the Kaws remain focused, especially with Perry celebrating homecoming tonight.
"It's always a worry with the distractions and we're also coming off a big win," Golder said. "We want to make sure we don't overlook Tonganoxie."
The Kaws have dominated the Perry-Tonganoxie series in the 1990s. Perry is 6-3 against the Chieftains this decade and have won three in a row over THS.
"It's my understanding that this has been a rivalry that goes way back," Golder said. "They always play us tough."
District playoffs, used to determine state qualifiers, start next week. Perry appears to be the frontrunner in Class 4A District 2. Other teams in the district are Atchison Maur Hill (2-3), Jefferson West (2-3) and Lansing (1-4).
"We haven't looked into district," Golder said. "We're still looking to take care of what we have control over in the league race."
-- Steve Rottinghaus' phone message number is 832-7152. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org