SEIBERT — Seemingly the entire fourth quarter, Cameron Klann was a black-and-white blur, bursting down the right sideline.
The senior had three hugely important scores in the fourth quarter to help third-seeded Hi-Plains beat No. 9 Cheyenne Wells 66-44 for the 6-man football championship on a crisp Saturday afternoon.
“We knew if we could get Cameron Klann out in the open field, no one was going to catch him,” said Alex Lowther, Hi-Plains’ first-year coach.
Klann, who finished with 178 yards rushing and four total touchdowns, took over right when Cheyenne Wells appeared to get back into the game with a score that made it 43-36 with 8:28 to play.
A few plays after Hi-Plains got possession, Klann took a pass from Riley Marzoff 64 yards for a score. That made it 51-36.
Less than three minutes later, he was at it again with a 75-yard rushing touchdown. 58-36.
Hi-Plains recovered an onside kick, and the next play, Klann added a 36-yard score. 66-36.
“Two straight runs, that was big for us,” Lowther said. “That kind of did it in. We kind of knew we had it in the bag from there.”
Added Klann: “Every time I get the ball, I just bust my butt as hard as I can. I don’t care who’s in my way, I’m going to break through anybody I can, and just get to that end zone.”
The win gave Hi-Plains its third championship. The school also won 6-man in 2008 and 2004.
But it had been an up-and-down four years for this year’s crop of seniors. The group played in the 2013 title game, then went 1-7 in 2014, and 3-5 in 2015.
“It’s been a rough ride,” said Hi-Plains senior Landon McCaffrey, “but this year, we picked it up.
“This feels amazing,” McCaffrey added. “It’s just a dream come true.”
Hi-Plains’ season was buoyed just prior to the year when Flagler announced it wasn’t going to field a team. The bulk of the players who still wanted to play joined the Patriots, as is allowed under state law.
“Obviously, bringing in some of the other athletes, that helped,” said Lowther, the coach at Flagler in 2015 prior to joining Hi-Plains. “What was great about it is all the kids just meshed really well right away. And the team chemistry. Our locker room after this is probably going to be insane. I mean, we’ve got some crazy kids, just a lot of personalities.
“I think that’s what’s really helped us push through to the next level.”
Hi-Plains (10-2) had a trio of stars on Saturday in Klann, Marzoff and McCaffrey. Each had four total touchdowns.
Marzoff had 228 yards passing, while McCaffrey had 113 passing, 104 receiving, and 31 rushing — and also a leaping interception on defense.
The Patriots also had key contributions from Pedro Teixeira (43-yard field goal, six two-point conversions) and Dustin Rico (105 receiving yards, two sacks).
Saturday’s game was a rematch of a Week 1 game won 60-34 by Cheyenne Wells. But Hi-Plains was missing a few players in that matchup, including McCaffrey.
The game was close throughout the first half, but Hi-Plains made it a three-possession game at 39-22 with a 40-yard Hail Mary from Marzoff to McCaffrey as time ran out on the second quarter.
“We started off a little slower than we wanted to, and when we finally get some momentum, we just go,” McCaffrey said.
“Once our offense got going, it was pretty hard to stop,” Lowther added.
Cheyenne Wells, making its third appearance in a state championship game, finished the season 8-4. The Tigers were led by Jaime Huerta (186 rushing yards, 107 passing, four total touchdowns) and Kendall Pelton (68 rushing, 81 passing, one touchdown).