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TMP has Larned for homecoming

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

It's homecoming week for the Thomas More Prep-Marian football team, and with that comes many festivities that can draw a player's attention away from what's important -- that week's game.

So it made TMP football coach John Montgomery happy to see his team show up to practice on Wednesday with a mindset completely zeroed in on the task at hand.

"With all of the distractions and things going on during homecoming week, they came out mentally focused," Montgomery said. "They had an intense practice where they got great work done and they put the right foot forward to give them an opportunity to win on Friday night."

TMP (1-1) will host Larned (2-0) in a crucial game at 7 p.m. Friday at Lewis Field Stadium that is not only its homecoming game, but also first home game of the season and first Mid Central Activities Association matchup.

There is a lot to be excited about, with the homecoming festivities being front and center, distraction or not.

"As a coach I sit there and say it doesn't carry any more weight than any other game in the season, but as a player, certainly I think you get up, you get excited, and you want to play your best game," Montgomery said. "You've got old teammates coming back watching you. You've got maybe grandmas and grandpas who've made a trip into town to watch it. It's certainly an exciting atmosphere to play in."

Larned enters the contest having beat Ellsworth 37-29 in Week 1 and Ellinwood 60-0 in Week 2. The Indians are in their second year of a rebuilding project under A.B. Stokes, who went 3-6 a season ago.

The two teams share a lot in common, including a long postseason drought. Larned hasn't been to the state playoffs since 1985, according to preppowerindex.com, while TMP hasn't gone since 2002. Both are in their second year under their respective head coach and look to be in a position to win a league title and possibly make postseason play this year.

The two teams also have a recent history of playing intense games, which has helped develop them into key rivals.

"We've just had previous games where punches were thrown, a lot of trash talking, a lot of whatever that makes it very exciting, makes football what it is," TMP senior lineman Nick Schumacher said. "Fast, aggressive, all out football."

Larned won last year's game 31-21, with TMP winning two years ago 54-20. TMP won in a 49-6 rout in 2010, and the Indians snuck past the Monarchs 36-26 in 2009.

The TMP players couldn't have asked for a better homecoming opponent than Larned.

"We love playing them and I know they love playing us," TMP senior receiver Jeffrey Richmeier said. "This game is a key momentum swinger. If we can get this win we are on a great track for the rest of the season."

More importantly than anything for TMP, Friday's game against Larned is a chance to finally play at home after games at Ellinwood (24-8 win) and Clay Center (22-7 loss) to open the season, with homecoming being mostly an afterthought to the players.

"First home game is homecoming, and that's big because there are a lot of alumni coming back to this game. They are excited at how good we can be this year and we are all excited that we can win this year," Richmeier said. "I like homecoming because it's a home game, but that's about it."