Locals shined in 6-man all-state game

By Kerry Sherman

More than 50 of the top recently graduated six-man football players got together in Hugo on Saturday for the Colorado 6-Man All-State Football Game. The North squad was able to hold off the cool, wet weather, as well as the South team, to claim a 32-29 victory.

The South wasted little time in getting an early advantage, when Tanner Conaway from Kit Carson hooked up with Cheraw’s Braeden Harris for a 67-yard touchdown on the third play of the game. After getting the ball back on the first offensive snap of the game for the North on a Ty Scheler (Cheyenne Wells) interception, the South added to its lead. Scheler hauled in a 23-yard TD pass from Ty Coleman (Cotopaxi), and Joe Autry (La Veta) drilled the PAT kick for a 14-0 lead.
The North need one play to respond. Nolan Japp (Fleming) outran the South defense for a 63-yard touchdown run to get the Navy-clad North on the board. A missed PAT kept the South in front by a 14-6 count.
Dressed in Scarlet, the South dipped into its bag of tricks to increase the separation between the squads. Facing a fourth and 11 just inside midfield, John Hainer (Granada) connected with Coleman on a RB-pass back to the QB. Scheler supplied the PAT kick following the 36-yard TD to give the South a 22-6 lead about halfway through the first period.
Logan Wright (Arickaree) made a connection with Jack Willeke (Otis) on the first of their three touchdown passes to get the North a little closer with under a minute to go in the frame. The duo capped a long drive with a 13-yard pass, but the missed kick kept the South up, 22-12. The advantage would swell to 17 when Angelo Lucero (Sierra Grande) returned the ensuing kick 76 yards for a TD. Scheler and Hainer got together for the one-point PAT pass and a 29-12 lead. The South would not score again.
Both defenses stiffened to begin the second quarter, with each forcing a turnover on downs. The North trimmed the deficit when Wright and Willeke hooked up for the second time, this one covering 10 yards. Their defense again rose to the occasion, giving the offense possession at the South 27 after a turnover on downs. Wright and Willeke closed out the first half scoring with a 17-yard TD connection. Montgomery Ramsey (North Park) split the uprights on the PAT and the teams headed to the half with the South leading 29-26.
Due to the high number of players on each side, a decision was made to play five eight-minute quarters to allow both coaching staffs the opportunity to get as many reps as possible for each player. The first of the remaining three quarters began with both defenses still standing tall.
Both teams had one possession in the third, with each turning the ball over on downs. The North was forced into the game’s only punt early in the fourth, and neither offense would generate much until the next to final play of the fourth. Claytin Hove (Prairie) was able to outrun the South defense for a 25-yard TD on a fourth and long. The kick was no good, keeping the North’s lead at 32-29.
The North defense really cranked up the intensity in the fifth and final frame. Peyton Well (Otis) registered his second sack of the game to put the South in a deep hole early in the quarter, and Genoa-Hugo’s Jack Kissell split a pair of sacks later in the period, one with Shannon King (Hi-Plains) and the next on the following play with Jayden Felts of Weldon Valley.
Things got interesting when Kit Carson’s Alex Mitchek forced and recovered a fumble to give the South one final drive. Kissell ended the ensuing possession with a fourth down stop. The North went to the victory formation for the final three snaps, securing the 32-29 victory.
Each player on both teams made an impact in the game, whether it came on offense, defense, or special teams. The victorious North team was coached by Paul Griese, Tim Hunt, and Anthony Griese of Arickaree, while the South was guided by Garyk Ontai and Jesse Reece of Cheraw.