Longhorns stampede to state
By GAYLE WEBER
By GAYLE WEBER
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.