Tonganoxie No socks. That's the uniform edict of Tonganoxie High football coach Mark Elston. The Chieftains play bare-legged.
"I don't like us wearing all kinds of different socks," Elston said. "And I think playing without them makes us look faster."
The Chieftains looked mighty fast Thursday night in clinching their Class 4A district championship with a 21-7 triumph over Perry-Lecompton at Beatty Field.
First-quarter touchdown gallops by Ross Starcher (40 yards) and halfback Zach Ditty (80 yards) gave the Chieftains a quick 13-lead. Then, Tongie's third possession ended early in the second quarter with a five-yard TD run by Sam Mitchell -- a score preceded by Starcher's 36-yard scamper -- and a 21-0 lead.
After that, well ...
"We came out gunning," said Starcher, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior speedster. "We were pumped up and ready to go. Then I think we got kind of overconfident."
Tonganoxie (8-1) came close to scoring a couple of more times, but the Chieftains shot blanks. Perry-Lecompton (3-6) outscored the Chieftains, 7-0, in the second half.
"It wasn't very pretty," Elston said of the last 24 minutes. "It probably came too easy for us right off the bat, and our guys may have gotten a little complacent."
At the same time, Elston gave a pat on the back to the outmanned and inexperienced Kaws.
"Give credit to Perry," the Tongie coach said. "They kept fighting. They're young, and I think they'll be good next year."
Kaws coach Mike Paramore wasn't happy to see his season end with a defeat, but he was taking some consolation in the strong second-half performance.
"We challenged them at halftime," Paramore said. "I love these guys. They played their guts out, and we return a lot of them next year -- nine starters on both sides of the ball."
Perry-Lecompton slugged it out, but the Kaws couldn't match the Chieftains' speed. P-L had just two offensive plays that netted double-digit yardage -- 13- and 10-yard passes from quarterback Zach Hefner to Cory McPherson and Gabe Glantz respectively. The Kaws' longest run was just eight yards.
P-L certainly had no one to match Starcher, who compiled 200 yards of offense in the first half alone -- 155 rushing and 45 on a pair of pass completions. In the second half, Starcher threw just once -- the pass was incomplete -- and ran for 86 yards.
Starcher finished with 245 rushing yards on 25 carries.
Tongie was stymied time and time again by a dozen penalties that cost the Chieftains 92 yards. They also lost two fumbles. Perry-Lecompton was hit with only two flags and didn't have a turnover.
"It seems like every time we had a big play, it was called back by a penalty," Elston said. "It was never on a three-yard gain. It was usually on a 40-yard gain."
Late in the first half, Starcher had tossed a short pass to Mitchell, who broke a couple of tackles and rambled for an apparent 62-yard touchdown, but the play was called back by a holding penalty.
Tonganoxie will play host to Basehor-Linwood in a bi-district game Tuesday night. Earlier in the year, Tongie bashed the Bobcats, 55-14.