Second ever 6-Man All-Star game is Saturday in Newton
Coming off an exciting 2020 6-Man football season that saw scorekeepers putting in overtime keeping up with high scoring bouts, the top 27 players from the 2020 season will gather for kickoff at 7:00 p.m. in North Newton at Bethel College this Saturday, June 5th, in a battle between the best northern and southern Kansas 6-man players in the state.
The North team will be helmed by head coach Chris Walden of the 6-Man state champs, Chelyin. Assistants on the sideline will include Travis Smith (Golden Plains), Brett Clow (Weskan), Kyle Finder (Greeley County) and Joe Spangler (Western Plains).
Walden underscored the value of how important it is for the 6-man league in Kansas to hold an all-star game
“We have to do everything we can to replicate the 8-man All-Star game and the Shrine Bowl and do stuff similar to the 8-man and 11-man ranks,” Walden said. “That was kind of the whole thing when we got started with the 6-man division. We have to kind of follow suit with the other divisions, just for when that opportunity for KSHSAA to come in and take this over that all this stuff is already established and the wheels are in motion to keep running with what we’ve been doing.”
The South’s head coach will be Brett Harp of state runner-up Moscow and assisting him will be John Schnable (Rolla), Ben Fox (Ashland) and Keenan Rasmussen (Pawnee Heights).
The North roster consists of 14 players and the South 13 from across Kansas 6-Man’s 15 team landscape, focused primarily in the western part of the state.
The North squad has three players from state champion Cheylin (Tyler Sabatka, Colton McCarty, Andrew Schields), while Weskan (Alejandro Gallego, Zach Schemn, Mac Purvis) and Golden Plains (Rojelio Loya, Wade Rush, Toby Korte) also have three players each. Northern Valley sends two (Brendan Sammons, Clay Preston) and one player each will come from Western Plains (Jamie Flax), Deerfield (Jonathon Saenz) and Greeley County (Jacob Miller).
The South’s team consists of a roster focused more on particular schools. Rolla will be represented by six players in the game (Alec Langley, Alonzo Martinez, Javier Torres, Castor Hernandez, Gavin Larue, Ethan Garcia) while Moscow sends four (Adan Granillo, Edwin Rojo, Ryan Penrod, Trenton Kennedy), Pawnee Heights two (Felipe Cordero, Cody Armspacker) and Ashland one (Braton Kay).
While Penrod and Kay both made the roster, they will not be suiting up for the game due to injury.
For anyone unfamiliar, 6-man matchups are exactly what a junkie for spread offenses and high scoring games is looking for, but it is important not to overlook the value of defensive fundamentals in the game.
"The 6-man game gets a bad rap because 'oh you guys score 80 points a game and don't play any defense'" Walden said. "Well, you’ve got 3200 square yards on the field and only 6 guys covering it and if you don't know how to tackle you're screwed. In my opinion with open field tackling that's something everyones working on and coaching, we’ve got to be the best at it because it's 1-on-1."
The head coaches of each squad will face-off again after coaching against each other in the Wild West Bowl on Halloween of 2020. The result was lopsided, as Walden’s Cheylin team won 47-0 over the defending champion Wildcats, completing a perfect 9-0 season.
"It's just an awesome week and an awesome experience," Walden said. "The best part about it is having the opportunity to work with other coaches and kids from the other schools once the helmet and shoulder pads come off. Western Kansas kids are all the same. They’re blue collar kids and they work hard and have a heart of gold. It’s kind of a coach's dream when you get 12 of them on a team that just want to win, play hard and work together."
The 2021 North vs. South All-Star game will mark the second time 6-Man all-stars from across the state of Kansas lock shoulder pads, with 2019 being the inaugural game and 2020 being put on hold due to COVID.
The North won the 2019 matchup 28-6.