Natoma wins 2021 Wild West Bowl, 6-Man Championship
DODGE CITY, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - The Natoma Tigers finished a perfect season with a 60-12 defeat of the Cunningham Wildcats in the 2021 Wild West Bowl Six-man Football State Championship.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association elected to make Six-man football an officially recognized sport earlier this season. The 2021 Wild West Bowl would mark the last championship put on by the Six-man Football Association.
Both teams entered Dodge City’s Memorial Stadium undefeated at 9-0.
Natoma took the ball first but went three and out.
Cunningham reached inside the red zone only to turn the ball over on downs at the Tiger 10-yard line.
The Tigers used two pass plays of 36 and 30 yards to set up a four-yard Kayden Martinez touchdown run. Natoma took a six-point lead after the missed extra points attempt.
Cunningham took the ball back into the red zone on the next possession. They reached the five-yard line before turning the ball over on downs again.
With less than a minute to go in the first quarter, Natoma’s Roy Bright threw a pass across the middle on fourth and 13 from the Wildcat 38-yard line. Lane Halderson intercepted Bright’s pass and returned it for a touchdown. Cunningham missed their extra point attempt to tie the score as the quarter ended.
Natoma’s offense found a new gear in the second quarter adding 26 points to their score. Tracen Frye scored first with a 10-yard rush for a touchdown. Roy Bright scored next with a 12-yard run followed by an Ian Mayberry PAT for two points. Derek George dove five yards for the third touchdown of the second quarter. Roy Bright threw a pass to Javon Letsch, who scored from 31-yards out to cap the scoring for the half.
The Natoma defense held Cunningham scoreless in the second quarter. Coming into the game, the Wildcats scored a total of 532 points. The Wildcats only crossed into the Natoma end of the field once in the second quarter.
“All night, it was defense,” said Natoma Coach Tyler Masters, “That was what we worked on most this past week. Cunningham can really put up points. We were nervous about that. We put the work in all week trying to take away their strong suits.”
The Tigers took a 32-6 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Natoma took advantage of a lucky bounce on the opening kickoff for the second half. The ball deflected off of a Wildcat, and the Tigers recovered on the 42-yard line. Kayden Martinez then took a handoff and ran to the end zone.
After recovering a fumble by Cunningham, Kayden Martinez found the end zone again with a 35-yard run.
Cunningham got on the board again on the next drive. Luke McGuire found Dagim Reed for a 27-yard reception. At that point, the Wildcats trailed 46-12.
Natoma only needed one play to respond to the Wildcat touchdown. Kayden Martinez ran for 27-yards to add six more points to his team’s lead. Ian Mayberry added two more points off a made PAT kick.
Cunningham needed a score to keep their season alive. Without one, Natoma would win via the 45-point mercy rule. The Wildcats drove down to the Tigers’ 18-yard line. The drive ended when Trey DeWeese threw an interception caught by Javon Letsch.
Natoma got to first and goal after a 46-yard rush by Kayden Martinez. Derek George ended the game with a stretched-out arm on a five-yard run to cross the plane and score a touchdown.
Kayden Martinez ended the game with 175 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Derek George carried the ball eight times for 51 yards and two touchdowns. Roy Bright and Tracen Frye each scored one touchdown on the ground.
Roy Bright went three of six in passing for 52 yards with a touchdown and interception each.
Natoma won their first playoff game in 47 years two weeks prior. After scoring the winning touchdown, Derek George commented on how it felt, “It doesn’t even feel real. We’ve never seen Natoma do this before. We’re the first team to do it, and it’s just great to bring it home.”
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