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Twenty-two hour Tuesday

I began today in Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m ending it in my basement. In between, it was quite a ride–literally for two parts of the day.

I stayed at B-Dubs until closing at 1 a.m., meaning I spent 10 and a half hours there total, starting at 2:30 p.m. yesterday. I agreed to stay until the bitter end because Elizabeth Psenski was closing, and from what Brittany Davidson told me, Liz was having a tough go, so I figured if I was there, it would help her feel better. It did. Tori Weber also stayed until close, and she was very happy to see me there

I almost didn’t get all of my work done before departing Kansas City. I kept falling asleep–expected–but somehow I found enough energy to get it all wrapped up and get out of the hotel at 11 a.m.

I ran into construction on US 36 in Doniphan County at noon, and I thought to myself, oh boy, I’m not going to make it to Kesnington in time for the volleyball matches at 4 p.m. According to Google maps, it was a four hour, 20-minute drive from the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs Parkway to Kensington, but I figured the construction would slow it down.

Construction on two-lane highways is hell. One direction has to come to a complete stop while a pilot car leads the traffic in the other direction. The wait can sometimes be more than 15 minutes. On many occasions, I’ve turned off my engine and reclined my seat back to catch a few winks.

Fortunately, there was hardly any waiting this time. The pilot car was leading the eastbound traffic past us as I came to a stop, so the wait was only a couple of minutes.

At Seneca, it began to sprinkle and I thought here’s the rain that was in the forecast. Sure enough, as I crossed the Nemaha-Marshall County line, it began to rain steadily. Nothing heavy, but enough to be a nuisance. I stopped at the Sinclair in Marysville to fuel up, use the restroom and get some snacks, and when I returned to my car, it began to rain harder. The heaviest rain fell from Marysville to Washington, at times slowing things down to 45 miles per hour. I was worried this was going to persist all the way to Kensington.

The rain finally subsided in Republic County about halfway between Washington and Belleville. The sun finally came out when I got past Mankato, and i pulled into Thunder Ridge High School at 3:40.

It turns out I had a little more time . Natoma and Thunder Ridge were supposed to play a varsity match at 4 p.m., but the junior varsity from the schools took the court first, pushing the start of the varsity match between the teams to 4:50.

Sadly, Pike Valley’s coach is in critical condition in a hospital awaiting heart surgery. Therefore, the Panthers only brought their varsity to Kensington, shortening the night from six matches to four.

Thunder Ridge had little trouble taking care of Natoma. Natoma lost the first set to Pike Valley, too, but came back and won the last two to pull out the match. In the last match of the night, the host Longhorns ousted Pike Valley in straight sets.

The drive home had a hairy moment. Approximately eight miles south of Phillipsburg, I caught two deer crossing the road from east to west. Luckily, I had plenty of room to stop and let them cross.

I actually clipped a deer with my current car on US 36 near Washington two years ago, but all it did was knock off a piece of my grille. I turned around, retrieved the grille piece, and then popped it back in at the Dairy Queen in Belleville. Of course, a deer destroyed my Oldsmobile 88 on 183 a few miles north of Hays in October 2005.

After getting past that obstacle, I saw a squirrel about a mile later, and then a hitchhiker pulling a suitcase. What the heck?

I’ve got a lot to do tomorrow for Russell’s paper. Hopefully it won’t wear me out.

Kickoff night in Kensington

After finding out my main camera wasn’t going to work, it was all free and easy. I don’t know how the pictures from the other camera will turn out, but it will have to do.

As for the game itself, Osborne pulled away after a close first half to a 52-28 victory. Thunder Ridge appeared to get right back in the game after recovering a Bulldog fumble at it own 2 and converting it into a touchdown on a 72-yard scamper by Trent Rietzke around right end. The Longhorns missed the 2-point conversion, but trailed by only two with just over three minutes to go before halftime.

Unfortunately for the home team, Osborne came right back and scored a touchdown with six seconds to go before halftime. It might have been worse than 32-22 at the break if not for a penalty.

The Bulldogs recovered a short kickoff following their fourth touchdown, and on what appeared to be the final play of the first half, Osborne quarterback Jake Tiernan threw a pass deep down the right sideline which Cullen Grabast hauled in at the 5. He averted a Longhorn tackler and dove into the end zone.

The score was for naught. There were offsetting penalties–illegal formation against Osborne and an illegal hit against Thunder Ridge. Osborne got another play, but Tiernan just took a knee.

The Bulldogs drove to a touchdown on their first possession of the second half. Rietzke struck back by returning the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown, but that would be Thunder Ridge’s last hurrah. Osborne dominated the rest of the game and won by a comfortable margin.

Osborne, which won the 8-man Division I state championship in 2013, hasn’t lost since the 2012 regular season finale. And here’s an interesting fact which may bode well for the Bullldogs: each of the previous two visiting teams to win at Kensington, Hill City in 2010 and Rock Hills in 2012, reached the Division I state championship game, even though they lost.

The drive back was rather easy. I passed Smith Center’s bus at Stockton, and Phillipsburg’s bus just south of Plainville. I passed on stopping at Hays and headed right back to Russell.

I want to go to Kansas City later today to visit everyone at Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m scared some won’t want to see me.

Football Fridays return

It was raining in Russell when I departed my garage at 3:20. It continued raining through Hays and Plainville, but by time I reached Stockton on US 183, the precipitation subsided. When I got to the junction of 183 and US 36 in Phillipsburg, the sun was trying to break through the clouds.

I pulled into Thunder Ridge High at 5:15. It figures to be a great early September night for football: mild, no rain, not much wind, and no sun glare to affect my pictures.

The only question is my camera. Will it work again, or will it malfunction like it did last night? I’ve taken a backup camera body to be safe. Either way, I’m covered. It’s just the backup doesn’t have the resolution of my main camera.

We’re 70 minutes from kickoff in Kensington. Another high school football season is here.

One down, one to go

The new volleyball season began for Russell and Beloit high schools a little under two hours ago. The Trojans defeated the Broncos 25-13, 25-20, spoiling the debut of new Russell coach Don Fenwick.

I’m now waiting for the second varsity match to begin. In the North Central Activities Association, teams play two varsity matches at the same site on the same day, rather than home-and-home, which is common in leagues where the schools do not have far to travel.

The Mid-Continent League, the league I cover in volleyball for the most part, does not have a mandatory round robin schedule. With the membership of the league in flux in recent years, that hasn’t been possible. The MCL determines its champion by a league tournament in mid-October. Smith Center has won the past two tournaments and 14 overall. Phillipsburg won it six straight between 2006 and 2011.

I just checked the weather for my football game Friday. Does not look good. There’s a chance of rain, and if that happens, the field at Kensington will turn muddy.

I agreed with Jack and Frank this afternoon that I should cover Osborne and Thunder Ridge of Kensington this Friday. Kensington is a tiny hamlet located on US 36 in western Smith County, halfway between Phillipsburg and Smith Center. Thunder Ridge was formed in 2008 after the merger of the school districts of Kensington and Agra, another tiny town in eastern Phillips County.

Thunder Ridge won the 8-man Division II state championship in 2011, finished second in 2012, and went 8-2 a year ago, although the Longhorns were bounced from the playoffs in the first round by Sharon Springs.

Osborne won the 8-man Division I state title last year. The Bulldogs played 11-man from 1966 through 2009, winning a state title in 1983, but mostly falling on hard times since, as their enrollment could not keep up with powerhouses like Smith Center, Norton and Plainville, and later Phillipsburg. Schools in Kansas are allowed to play 8-man if their enrollment in grades 9, 10 and 11 is 100 or fewer in years when the Kansas State High School Activities Association draws up new football districts, which are odd-numbered years for the cycle to begin the following year.

I’ve got a lot of stuff between now and Friday. The second match at Beloit, the drive back to Russell, writing and laying out pages for Russell, volleyball Thursday at Smith Center…it will get interesting.