RMSI Weihnachtsfest Marquee Dec 2021

Natoma Punches Ticket to 6-Man Title Game

Natoma Tigers
Natoma Tigers

NATOMA-Kayden Martinez accounted for seven touchdowns and an opportunistic Natoma defense forced five turnovers as the Tigers pulled away from Ashland 67-18 in the 6-Man Semifinals Saturday afternoon at Tiger Field.

After Ashland deferred until the  second half, the Tigers drove 40 yards in five plays on their first possession of the game.  Natoma was set up with a first and goal at the one-yard line on a 39-yard pass from Quarterback Trey Bright to Javon Letsch.  On the next play, Derek George scored to give Natoma an 8-0 lead after the two-point kick.  Ashland then responded with a three-play, 57-yard drive culminating, with a seven-yard run by Nathan Lynn.  The conversion was no good and Natoma's lead after the first quarter stood at 8-6.

After stopping Ashland at the one-yard line late in the first quarter, Natoma struck on the first play of the second period when Bright found Tracen Frye wide open for a 76-yard touchdown pass and the two-point kick upped the Tiger lead to 16-6.  After an Ashland fumble, Natoma needed just one play for their next touchdown when Martinez scampered 25 yards to the end zone.  The two-point kick was missed and the Tigers led 22-6.  Frye then caught a 38-yard pass from Martinez on Natoma's next possession, widening the lead to 28-6.

The Blue Jays though fought back with 37 seconds left in the second quarter when Landen McPhail hauled in a three-yard pass from Quarterback Britt Grigsby.  The point after run failed, leaving the score at 28-12.  17 seconds later, Martinez found Frye wide open for a 71-yard touchdown pass to make the score 34-12 in favor of the Tigers.  After a botched onsides kick, Ashland began their final drive of the half on the Natoma 25-yard line and with two seconds left before intermission, Grigsby found Lathan McPhail for an 18-yard touchdown pass.  The conversion failed again and Natoma led 34-18 at halftime.

The teams traded fumbles on their first possessions of the second half and then Natoma broke the game wide open as Martinez scored on runs of 61, 36, 47 and 27 yards to increase the Tiger advantage to 61-18 with 3:29 left in the fourth quarter.  Natoma could have ended the game with a two-point kick but it sailed wide right.  However, the game only lasted 27 more seconds as Letsch picked off a pass and returned it 43 yards for a score to end the contest at the 3:02 mark.

The two teams combined for nearly 1,000 yards of total offense.  Martinez rushed for 206 yards on 10 carries with five touchdowns and passed for 147 more yards and two scores.  Frye caught four passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns.  Ashland (7-2) was led by 62 yards on the ground from Landen McPhail while Grigsby was 13 of 21 for 181 yards passing and two scores.

Natoma (8-0) will face Cunningham (9-0) in the 6-Man State Championship game at the Wild West Bowl in Dodge City on Saturday, October 30.  The Wildcats were victorious in Saturday's other semifinal 57-22 over Northern Valley.  Former Natoma Football standout and coach Cody Dunlap is Cunningham's Principal.

Natoma is appearing in its first State Championship Football game since 1974 and just the second in school history.  The Tigers fell to Pittsburg St. Mary's-Colgan 28-14 in the Class 1A State Championship game in November, 1974.

Kickoff for the title game is set for 7 p.m. on October 30 at Dodge City's Memorial Stadium.  The game will be broadcast live on KRSL 95.9 FM and online at krsl.com