6-Man Top 6: Trey DeWeese and Lane Halderson
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.
These are the final player profiles highlighting the Top 6 selections released in no particular order:
Trey DeWeese, QB/DB, 5-9, 155, and Lane Halderson, E/DE, 6-0, 205, Cunningham
After years of putting an 8-Man team on the field with thin numbers, head coach Lance McGuire and his Cunningham Wildcats were forced to call it quits in 2015 due to simply lacking bodies to put on the field. It wasn’t until 2019, with the rise of 6-Man football in Kansas, that the Wildcats were able to again field a team.
On that initial team there were two freshmen in the class, Trey DeWeese and Lane Halderson, that proved to be key components in leading Cunningham from having no program at all, to the top of 6-Man football in Kansas.
But, like they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Cunningham competing for state championships didn’t happen overnight. In year one the Wildcats struggled throughout the season, winning just one game against Western Plains, and that was by forfeit.
Both freshmen were starters throughout the season, DeWeese lining up at running back and defensive back, while Halderson played end on both sides of the ball.
Their sophomore campaign was accompanied by a change in fortune. DeWeese was moved to quarterback where he went 84 of 129 passing for 937 yards and 16 TDs. Halderson, meanwhile, caught 39 passes for 478 yards and seven TDs and also recorded 57 tackles.
The Wildcats won their first six games of the season, including a 54-36 win over Northern Valley in the first round of the playoffs, before dropping their final two games of the season, a 58-12 semifinals loss to Moscow, followed by a 58-31 loss to Golden Plains in the consolation game.
Despite the tough ending to an otherwise excellent 6-2 season, Cunningham had reason for optimism with five quality starters returning from a team that finished fourth in the state.
Entering their final two seasons, DeWeese and Halderson began taking on leadership roles with their own unique approaches. The former more vocal and the latter typically with his actions.
“Players follow Trey,” McGuire said. “He organized them and got them in the right place. Lane has been a quiet leader, but every now and then he was vocal in practice or games when the guys needed a little jolt.”
Either way, the tandem’s locker room presence was effective as Cunningham plowed through their regular season schedules with their closest final tally being a 46-0 win over Moscow in a Week 6 matchup.
DeWeese was 52 of 93 for 772 yards and 19 TDs to only three interceptions, while Halderson caught 32 passes for 601 yards and 15 TDs. While the expanded Cunningham quarterback room – backfield mate Luke McGuire also threw for over 700 yards and 18 TDs – possessed accurate arms, Halderson’s playmaking ability certainly made things easier for them.
“Lane has great instincts as a pass catcher,” coach McGuire said. “It was very rare for him to drop a ball or to lose a ‘jump ball’. Over four years he averaged several circus catches each year. He had success as a blocker as well, and opened some good holes.”
Defensively the duo were equally vital. Halderson led the team in tackles with 67 and added three interceptions and three fumble recoveries, while DeWeese recorded 49 tackles, three interceptions, a fumble recovery, and three forced fumbles.
“Trey’s biggest strength on defense was discipline,” coach McGuire said. “He was where he was supposed to be all the time, regardless if it was a pass or a run, or front side or back side. He may attack a run on one play and have deep coverage and make a pick on the next.”
The Wildcats continued their winning ways through the playoffs and advanced to the championship game before they were dealt their first and only loss of the season against a determined Natoma team.
Entering 2022 Cunningham were clearcut favorites to win the first ever KSHSAA 6-Man championship with an overwhelming majority of their production coming back, and they followed through on those expectations.
In the season opener they won an exciting 38-30 contest against Ashland, another title contender, but didn’t break a sweat from that point on, getting payback on a still tough Natoma team in Week 2, 47-0, and rolling over every remaining team on their regular season schedule with their closest matchup ending 42-0 against a Tescott team that finished the year 9-2.
Halderson reeled in 35 receptions for 664 yards and 12 TDs, while DeWeese went 96 of 142 for 1,196 yards and 30 TDs to five interceptions, also catching 17 passes from McGuire for 191 yards and two more scores.
“It is hard to put into words,” coach McGuire said. “Trey was basically an offensive coordinator on the field. He and I work very well together with on-field adjustments during games. As a senior he had a great deal of input on play calls. Many times he would suggest a play and he was so successful I would often give him the green light to run his play.”
DeWeese also recorded 39 tackles, a team-high six interceptions, and two fumble recoveries. Halderson again led the team in tackles with 69 to go with six tackles-for-loss, five interceptions, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble, and a blocked field goal.
“Talk about a rock in the middle of the defense,” coach McGuire said. “Absolute run stuffer that could go sideline-to-sideline. He was also quick enough to get a pick every now and then.”
The Wildcat’s dominance continued into the playoffs, with a 65-0 win over Natoma in the second round after a first round bye, a 58-12 win over Wetmore in the quarterfinals, a 60-12 win over Waverly in the semifinals, and finally a 38-16 victory in a rematch with one-loss Ashland in the state championship.
Cunningham’s 6-Man state title goes down as the first KSHSAA sanctioned 6-Man championship in the division’s history.
While McGuire brings back some talented players for 2023, he realizes the challenge in replacing this talented duo, saying of Halderson, “Lane’s consistency will be hard to replace. Close games, blow outs, wins, losses; he would make the catch or make the tackle.”
And of DeWeese, “He is the hardest worker on the team. He really works hard in the offseason in all that he does. His quiet presence and work ethic will be tough to replace.”