BY JIM MISUNAS
REXFORD — The Pawnee Heights football team is creating memories that will last a lifetime.
The underdog Tigers avenged a 32-point loss with a shocking 42-38 semifinal victory Thursday over Golden Plains High School in the first-ever Kansas Six-Man state football playoffs.
Tailback Kade Scott scored his fifth touchdown with 1:11 left in the game and the Tigers held off the Bulldogs inside the Tigers’ 15-yard line. The Tigers (6-2) qualify for the Six-Man state championship game against unbeaten Weskan (7-0) Nov. 5 at Dodge City.
The Tigers’ celebration?
They acted like they hadn’t been there — which they haven’t. Players performed back flips and some cried tears of happiness.
“These kids deserved that. There were times when those guys played above their heads. That’s a team that might beat us 99 times out of 100,” said Pawnee Heights coach Jeff Chambers. “We beat them the one time it counted. We took advantage of the mistakes they gave us.”
The lead changed hands six times in the second half. The Bulldogs’ talented A.J. Camacho capped a five-TD night with a 50-yard fumble return against Tiger quarterback Ryan Klenke for a 38-35 lead.
The Tigers rallied. Klenke completed a pass to center Caleb Karst for a key first down and Scott scored on the next play.
“I’m totally amazed by what these players and the progress they’ve made since the start of the season,” Chambers said. “We have a ladder of success that we take one step at a time. It was amazing how many fans came from Rozel and Burdett. They were a tremendous inspiration for the players.”
The Tigers employed Dalton Hamby, Gabe Oddo and Jackson Henbest up front defensively to disrupt the Bulldogs. LB Kade Scott, Trace Baker and Karst backed up the line with safeties Spencer VanMeter and Klenke sharing time. Hamby, Scott and Oddo recovered Bulldog fumbles, the biggest factor in the upset victory.
“Our guys up front destroyed some of their runs,” Chambers said.
Camacho rushed for 266 yards and four TDs. QB Dawson Spresser completed seven passes for 83 yards and a TD to Caleb Korte.
The Tigers’ Scott rushed for 264 yards behind center Kaleb Karst and ends VanMeter, Kale McCoy and Trace Baker. Klenke added 117 yards rushing. Karst caught three passes for 81 yards and VanMeter had two catches for 40 yards.