6-Man: Cheylin beats Cunningham for first KSHSAA title

Cheylin celebrates its first KSHSAA state football title. (photo by Adam Wiginton)
By: Conor Nicholl for Kpreps.com
Nov 25, 2023

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DODGE CITY – Bird City-Cheylin set a new statistical standard for Kansas six-man football. The Cougars, led by coaches Chris Walden and Mike McCarty, along with a vaunted senior class, broke multiple state records in 2023.

The culmination yielded a 57-8 victory against Cunningham on Saturday afternoon in snowy conditions at Dodge City’s Memorial Stadium.

The game ended by the 45-point mercy rule in the third quarter.

Cheylin finished 12-0 in on-field results. The Cougars finished with an average margin of 63.3-7.3. Kansas re-started the six-man football playoffs with the Wild West Bowl in 2016. That existed from ’16 to ’21. Last year, Kansas sanctioned six-man football.

Since the re-start in ’16, Cheylin became the first six-man team to win at least 12 on-field games in a single season. According to databases maintained by Kpreps/Sunflower Sports Solutions, Cheylin also set six-man marks for total points scored (760), points per game (63.3), points allowed (87) and points permitted per game (7.3).

Cheylin’s scoring defense average barely bettered Cunningham’s 8.1 from last year.

It marked the first KSHSAA-sanctioned state athletic title in Cheylin history. Cheylin also won the 6-Man Association's Wild West Bowl state championship with a 9-0 mark in 2020. After that year, the Cougars slipped to three victories in an injury and obstacle-filled 2021.

Last season, Cheylin won 10 games and lost to Ashland in the state semifinals. This year, Ashland handed Cunningham a loss in Week 1. Cheylin defeated Ashland in the regular season and again in the semifinals.

Cheylin won every game by at least 30 points. That also included Week 1 and 2 shutouts against non-KSHSAA teams in Cheyenne Wells  (Colo.) and Weskan. Cheyenne Wells went 8-6, and Weskan finished 8-1. Cheyenne Wells was the Colorado six-man state runner-up and averaged 47 points a game when not facing Cheylin.

On Saturday, Cheylin’s senior trio of quarterback Logan McCarty, athlete Pablo Bermudez and receiver Brady Ketzner completed their elite careers. The seniors enjoyed the winningest four-year stretch in Cheylin football history. Cunningham has finished second, first and second in the last three years. The Wildcats finished 10-2.

Cheylin opened the scoring on a 40-yard touchdown pass from McCarty to Ketzner. McCarty, statistically the best passer in Kansas six-man history, rolled right and found Ketzner behind the defense. McCarty scored the second touchdown on a fourth down run, and tallied the third TD on a rushing score. Cheylin led 24-0 with 7:46 left in the second quarter.

After a Cunningham goal line stand, the Wildcats drove down for a TD. However, Bermudez, known for his big plays throughout his four-year career, had a long kickoff return. Then, McCarty found Ketzner for a 35-yard TD pass and a 30-8 lead late in the second quarter.

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