BY JIM MISUNAS
DODGE CITY — Pawnee Heights’ Caleb Karst made an amazing one-handed interception and an equally dazzling reception. Quarterback Ryan Klenke scored on a highlight-reel play worthy of ESPN’s Sports Center.
The pesky Tigers played their hearts out in a 36-18 setback to Weskan in the inaugural Six-Man State Football Championship Saturday at Dodge City’s Memorial Stadium.
“I’m really proud of these kids after not playing high football for five years at Pawnee Heights,” said Pawnee Heights coach Jeff Chambers. “When we started this season, the thought that we’d be playing for a state championship was a dream. We were able to accomplish a lot of things that we wanted.”
Tiger tailback Kade Scott scored a touchdown and rushed for 127 yards. Quarterback Ryan Klenke scored a rushing touchdown and completed a 42-yard touchdown to Caleb Karst. The Tigers outgained Weskan 295-224.
All-state linebacker Scott was named Six-Man Defensive Player of the Year and Caleb Karst was named a Six-Man All-State center by Kpreps.com.
The Tigers led 6-0 when tailback Kade Scott crossed the goal-line on 4th-and-1. Scott recovered a fumble by Weskan’s Bailey McQuillan when he collided with teammate Jace Mackley.
Weskan scored the next three touchdowns. Quarterback Greg Kukyendall completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to McQuillan for a 6-6 tie. McQuillan scored on a 1-yard dive after the Tigers were flagged for pass interference on a pass out of bounds and a 15-yard facemark violation. The drive started when Scott was ruled inches shy of a first down at the Weskan 27-yard line.
The Tigers reached the Weskan 5-yard line with a 63-yard drive that was highlighted by Karst’s amazing reception inches inbounds. Weskan led 14-6 at halftime.
Kukyendall delivered the game’s biggest play with a 59-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the second-half kickoff. McQuillan freed Kuykendall with a key block for a 22-6 lead.
Karst made the game’s first memorable play with a one-handed interception where he tipped the football to himself at the Tigers’ 3-yard line. Karst capped a 71-yard scoring drive with a 42-yard TD reception for a 22-12 score.
McQuillan’s 1-yard TD was matched by Ryan Klenke’s topsy-turvy 6-yard touchdown where he was upended by Weskan’s Kuykendall for a 30-18 score with 9:07 left.
The Tigers’ best defensive series was sealed by Gabe Oddo’s tackle. On the next drive, Austin McQuillan made Weskan’s biggest defensive play with a fumble recovery that set up the Coyotes’ clinching 46-yard touchdown drive. Kuykendall scored with 56 seconds left in the game.
The Tigers return several experienced players — Caleb Karst, Dalton Hamby, Trace Baker, Kade Scott, Gabe Oddo, Jackson Henbest and Kale McCoy.
“We fought until the last second and that’s what I expect of my kids,” Chambers said. “We’re going to be back here next year.”
Weskan (8-0) defeated Pawnee Heights 36-25 in September. Pawnee Heights (6-3) defeated Golden Plains 42-38 in the semifinals.
The Golden Plains Bulldogs defeated the Cheylin Cougars 52-42 for third place. Golden Plains (6-2) lost to Weskan and Pawnee Heights. Cheylin finished with a 3-6 record.
The championship games are available for viewing at http://www.dodgecityevents.com/2016-wild-west-bowl/
The games will also be aired by Smoky Hills Public Television. Smoky Hills will air the third-place game at 3 p.m. Sunday. The championship game will be aired at 5 p.m. Sunday.
COYOTES 36, TIGERS 18
PH 6 0 6 6 — 18
Weskan 6 8 16 6 — 36
PH—Kade Scott 1 run (run failed), 5:44
W—Bailey McQuillan 17 pass from Greg Kuykendall (kick blocked), 3:15
W—McQuillan 1 run (Jace Mackley kick), 8:32
W—Greg Kuykendall 59 kickoff return (Mackley kick), 9:47
PH—Caleb Karst 42 pass from Ryan Klenke (run failed), 2:26
W—Kuykendall 1 run (Mackley kick), 1:05
PH—Ryan Klenke 6 run (run failed), 9:07
W—Kuykendall 1 run (kick blocked), 0:56
RUSHING—PH—35-158; Kade Scott 23-127; Ryan Klenke 11-42; team 1-(-11); Weskan—41-176; Kuykendall 26-115; McQuillan 12-72; Mackley 1-(-2); team 2-(-9).
PASSING—PH—Ryan Klenke 7-10-1, 125; Scott 1-1-0, 12; Weskan—Kuykendall 4-7-1, 44; Mackley 1-1-0, 4.
RECEIVING—PH—Caleb Karst 3-70; Spencer VanMeter 4-58; Scott 1-9; Weskan—McQuillan 3-35; Dallas Seader 1-9; Kuykendall 1-4.
CHAMPIONSHIP—Weskan 36, Pawneee Heights 18
THIRD—Golden Plains 52, Cheylin 42
SEMIFINALS—Weskan 53, Cheylin 6; Pawnee Heights 42, Golden Plains 38
FIRST ROUND—Cheylin 53, Wheatland-Grinnell 7; Pawnee Heights 73, Natoma 6
QB—Greg Kuykendall, Weskan, 5-8, 135, sr.
RB—A.J. Camacho, Golden Plains, 5-7, 160, so.
C—Caleb Karst, Pawnee Heights, 5-11, 190, jr.
FB-L-WR—Carter Porubsky, Cheylin 6-2, 200, sr.
E-WR—Jorge Esparza, Wheatland-Grinnell, 6-0, 200, sr.
E-WR—Caleb Korte, Golden Plains 6-3, 185, so.
DL—Jorge Esparza Wheatland-Grinnell
DL—Carter Porubsky, Cheylin
LB—Bailey McQuillan, Weskan 5-10, 145, jr.
LB—Kade Scott, Pawnee Heights, 6-0, 170, so.
DB—A.J. Camacho, Golden Plains
DB—Greg Kuykendall, Weskan
PK—Jorge Esparza, Wheatland-Grinnell
RETURN—A.J. Camacho, Golden Plains
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
OFFENSE—Greg Kuykendall, Weskan
DEFENSE—Kade Scott, Pawnee Heights
COACH OF YEAR—Brett Clow, Weskan