6-Man Top 6: Nate Ehlers
Earlier this winter, Kansas Pregame contacted 6-Man football coaches in an effort to name a second annual Top 6 team of seniors for 6-Man football in Kansas.
This is the fourth of six player profiles highlighting the Top 6 selections released in no particular order:
Nate Ehlers, E/DB, 6-2, 160, Tescott
Since they posted a 5-4 record in 2015, Tescott hadn’t put together a winning season prior to 2022. Despite an experienced head coach in Daymon Walker – who had coached highly-successful teams in the mid-to-late 2000s – and some talented athletes, the numbers simply weren’t there for the Trojans.
Similarly to most of the 2010s, 2019 through 2021 were more examples of the Trojans struggling at the 8-Man II level, winning four total games in the span.
In 2022, two factors converged to change the Trojans' fortunes.
First, a switch to 6-Man football, putting Walker’s team on a level playing field as far as bodies on the field was a boon for the program. The school was one of the 25 smallest in the state with a total high school enrollment of 45 as of September 21, 2022, according to KSHSAA, with many comparably sized schools using co-ops to bolster their numbers.
Second, the Trojans conveniently returned six talented starters from 2021. The group was hungry to find success after three losing seasons, and were led, albeit quietly, by senior Nate Ehlers.
“Nate is not a vocal leader,” Walker said. “It just isn't his nature to lead with his voice. He is a leader with his actions, especially in practice where he wins every sprint and leads us through our agility drills every day. On the field, he leads with his effort and his ability to hit people and play with an enthusiasm which is contagious.”
Entering his fourth year as a starter for the Trojans as an end offensively and a defensive back with numbers that don’t jump off the page, Ehlers was huge on both sides of the ball during his senior campaign.
The senior ran the ball 119 times for 1,070 yards and 24 touchdowns, caught 17 passes for 248 yards and three more TDs, and also made a big impact freeing up space for teammates, particularly junior running back Carter Peters.
“Nate spent more time in the backfield this year than he has in past years,” Walker said. “He is extremely versatile. He was also an exceptional blocker as our other running back had 915 yards on 119 carries with Nate leading the way most of the time.”
On the other side of the ball, Ehlers found similar success using athleticism that made him a state place-winner in the 110 and 300 hurdles last spring.
“On defense, Nate was a physical presence, even though he doesn't look the part at 6-2 and 160 pounds,” Walker said. “He can play sideline to sideline. He is faster than he looks. Nate led our team in tackles with 129 total and set the tone for us with his physicality.”
With Ehlers leading the way the Trojans put together an excellent campaign, making it through the regular season with just one loss against eventual 6-Man state champs Cunningham in Week 4.
From there, Tescott made their way to the state playoffs with a combined score of 184-12 over the next four regular season games, and then advanced to the state quarterfinals with a 55-6 first round win over Chetopa followed by a 40-12 victory over Peabody-Burns, before finally seeing their season come to an end against Waverly, one game shy of a rematch against Cunningham in the state semifinals.
The Trojans bring back three starters next season, but have a tough task in replacing the group of seniors graduating this May, particularly Ehlers.
“What we will miss most with Nate graduating is his athleticism,” Walker said. “You can't teach or coach the speed Nate brings to the field. We didn't always block a play well, but Nate could make something out of nothing with his athleticism. On defense, there were times when we weren't in the correct place defensively or someone missed a tackle and Nate's speed saved a big gain or a touchdown. That, we will not be able to replace.’
Ehlers is undecided on his future plans at, but does plan on a future in agriculture.