Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Santa Fe Trail Enjoys Life in Pioneer League ; Pioneer: SFT Defense Has Allowed 6 Points

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Santa Fe Trail Enjoys Life in Pioneer League ; Pioneer: SFT Defense Has Allowed 6 Points

Article excerpt

When Santa Fe Trail left the Big Seven League following the 2013- 14 school year, the Chargers fully expected to hit the ground running in their new conference, the Pioneer League.

Sure enough, they have. After winning just one football game last year -- the last three years, in fact -- Santa Fe Trail is off to a 2-0 start with blowout wins over new league foes Iola (35-0) and Central Heights (45-6) on the ledger.

To suggest, however, that the Chargers' success is merely a by- product of their new environment, well that's not an argument the Chargers are totally willing to buy into.

"Whether we were in the Big Seven, the Pioneer or even the Mid- East, we were planning on winning more than we lost this year," Trail coach Jayson Duncan said. "We expected this to be our breakout year."

Trail (2-0) will look to keep its sizzling start going Friday night when it plays host to former Big Seven rival Royal Valley (1- 1) at 7 p.m. The game is the only one on the Chargers' schedule against their former league and marked the lone win the Chargers' picked up during the 2013 season.

Even then, it took overtime for Trail to pull out a 28-22 victory that ended an 18-game losing streak. It also was the start of a winless season for the Panthers, who lost starting quarterback Austin Hodison for the season in the game and never fully recovered.

"This is a new year, but the kids do remember last year and losing in that overtime game, especially how the season went for them afterwards," said Panther coach Jake Lott, who is in his first year with the program. "You can point to that loss as a catalyst, but it's a new year and I think it's two different teams.

"Santa Fe Trail is off to a hot start and has high expectations and everyone down there is happy with where they're going. Here, we got our first win and we're excited about the season. It should be a game where two teams are trying to keep their momentum going. …

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