PITTSBURG — As Hutchinson Field cleared Friday night, Chanute Blue Comets football Coach Clete Frazell and running back Ty Leedy hugged each other.
After the clock ran out and the scoreboard read Chanute 21, Pittsburg 7, after the high-fives with family and fans in the bleachers, after the impromptu water cooler shower, the coach and his player wrapped themselves in an embrace that was bigger than football.
In that moment, it didn’t matter that the 4A Blue Comets upset the 5A Purple Dragons. It didn’t matter that Friday night was the first time Chanute had defeated Pittsburg since a 38-7 win in September 2009. It didn’t matter that Leedy had more than 100 rushing yards, a touchdown and helped lead the Chanute defense in its surprising win.
All that mattered in that moment was that Leedy hoped he had made Robert Leedy, his grandfather who died due to heart failure last week, proud.
“I was playing 100 percent for him and my family over there, so it’s a very good feeling,” Leedy said.
It would’ve been easy for Leedy to use excuses or get discouraged early on in Friday night’s win.
While Chanute’s defense was outperforming expectations — Pittsburg’s lone touchdown was an interception by Austin McKechnie that he returned for a score in the second quarter — the offense was stagnant, and Leedy had less than 40 rushing yards in the first half.
In the beginning of the second half, after Leedy had sliced through the middle of the field to break free for a 69-yard touchdown run, he caught multiple cramps in his legs and had to sit for a handful of plays.
But standing by just isn’t in his DNA.
“I hit the hardest,” Leedy said. “I don’t care who it is, I’m not going to let them outwork me.”
Leedy returned to action shortly after, bringing with him all the energy a spark plug like himself needs to fire up his teammates late in the game.
“Ty Leedy’s really special,” Frazell said. “He’s a great kid, hard-working kid and just one of the better athletes you’re ever going to be around. He’s dynamite in a small package is the way to put it.”
With the momentum rolling in their favor, the Blue Comets earned multiple defensive stops and sealed the win in the final four minutes off of an interception-turned-touchdown from Kam Koester.
With a two-touchdown lead and the clock just seconds away from zero, Chanute’s entire bench was ecstatic and oozing adrenaline.
But not Leedy.
His eyes were bulging. He seemed to have a look on his face that more closely resembled a sense of amazement, as if he couldn’t believe all his effort paid off — for himself and his grandfather.
“I worked my butt off in practice,” Leedy said. “I didn’t take any days off. I was doing everything I could to keep from cramping. I was doing everything I could to get myself prepared, mentally and physically, for this game. And it definitely paid off.”
The Blue Comets (1-1) will look to earn a second consecutive win when they travel to Meriden for a road matchup with the Jefferson West Tigers (0-2).