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Longhorns stampede to state

By GAYLE WEBER

gweber@dailynews.net

KENSINGTON -- Doc Grauerholz characterizes this year's Thunder Ridge football season as a "fun ride."

Unexpected, but fun.

After graduating Kansas' eight-man career rushing leader Joel Struckhoff and a host of seniors that led the Longhorns to the consolidated school's first state title a year ago, Grauerholz and others in the community expected a bit of a rebuilding year.

"These kids rebuilt faster than I thought they was going to," he said.

Thunder Ridge will defend its Eight-man Division II state title at 11 a.m. Saturday at Fischer Field in Newton after compiling an 11-1 record.

Grauerholz has been the announcer at home Longhorn games -- and before that, Kensington Goldbug games -- for 30-plus years. His wife, Beverly, has been videotaping the games -- football, basketball and more -- for nearly as long.

"We've had some years before, but now doing it two years in a row is really something," Doc Grauerholz said of the team's success.

Thunder Ridge has matched up against a similar slate of opponents in this year's state playoffs, and Grauerholz kept warning his beloved Longhorns that familiar foes Otis-Bison and Sharon Springs might not forget about losses from a year ago.

The same can be said for the rematch in Saturday's state title game against Baileyville-B&B.

"They're going to be out to get us again this year," he said.

And the B&B rivalry goes back even farther -- to 1994 when Kensington beat B&B for the school's second football title.

But Grauerholz knows Thunder Ridge has worked hard to earn its success this year.

"I look forward to it as much as the kids, I guarantee you," Grauerholz said.