By RICK PETERSON
No question, these are tough times for Topeka West's football program, with the Chargers 0-5 after an 84-14 home United Kansas Conference loss to Lansing Thursday night at Hummer Sports Park.
But after a long wait to get on the field for the Chargers, West wide receiver/defensive back Josh Nitschke is determined to make the most of his time at Topeka West.
"I moved in from East Texas,'' Nitschke said. "I moved here last year but my transcripts didn't go through from Texas, so I wasn't allowed to play but I did play (junior varsity) and I had a little bit of fun down there.''
Nitschke is finally getting his chance to play varsity football for West this fall and has been a definite bright spot for Trey Parker's Chargers.
Nitschke scored both of Topeka West's touchdowns in Thursday's loss on a pair of highlight film-worthy runs.
Nitschke scored West's first touchdown late in the first half on a 72-yard run and followed that up with an even longer TD run midway through the fourth quarter, taking the ball at the West 9-yard-line and covering the length of the field for a 91-yard score.
In an otherwise forgettable night for the Chargers, Nitschke's long touchdowns were a definite highlight.
"I was cramping the whole way,'' NItschke said after the game. "Especially at the end of the runs I'd be cramping, but it felt good.''
Nitschke finished the night with a game-high 174 rushing yards and the two touchdowns on just six carries.
West has struggled mightily through its first five games, but Nitschke said he saw some positives against the Lions.
"I think my teammate, Jace Banks, he did really good on coverage, and my teammate, Kyrece Robinson, he pressured the quarterback every time.,'' NItschke said. "We all together defensively, we do our job, and then it will be that one play. We just need to get that one play out of the way.''
Although he admits that losing has been tough to swallow, Nitschke said he's enjoying being at Topeka West.
"I love the people there, everyone's great,'' he said. "It's a good school. All the teachers, they love you and they make sure you do what you need to do.
"Not winning's rough but I feel like our coaching staff can turn it around next year. We can make some big plays next year. I have hope.''