No. 1 Sedgwick County downs No. 2 Sanford to claim record-tying sixth straight 8-man football title

PUEBLO — When it comes to the state record for winning consecutive football championships, Limon has company.

With its 72-32 win over Sanford at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl at CSU-Pueblo, Sedgwick County claimed its sixth straight 8-man football championship. The Cougars tie a state record set by Limon in the 1960's. Sedgwick County, however, becomes the first program to ever win six straight titles in the same classification.

And it got the record in style by adding a championship game scoring record in the process. The Cougars (9-0 overall) broke the championship scoring record of 66 points and did it on a touchdown pass that capped a drive in which coach Chris Michel let his offense call its own plays.

"They're a special group," Michel said. "I would've taken a 6-0 win with these guys. At the end of the game I promised them a long time ago that in the fourth quarter I'd give them a drive and would let them call their own plays."

After surviving a a pair of long touchdown runs from Sanford's Kelton Gartrell, Sedgwick County quarterback Jared Ehmke got his offense in gear.

Sedgwick County Sanford football

More photos from the game. (Lance Wendt/wendt5280.com)

He threw for four touchdown passes in the first half, with Jaciel Villabolos and Terrance Heath each catching two. The Cougars also got rushing touchdowns from Brody Parker and Kaleb Fowler.

"I have a lot of confidence in my offense and my offensive line," Ehmke said. "They scored a few but I had faith that we could score a few too."

While playing in the first state championship game in program history, Sanford (7-1) had no intention of being just a footnote for this historical feat. It was going to make the Cougars earn it. Through just four carries, Gartrell amassed 108 yards and two touchdowns to give the Cougars an early scare.

Sanford kept itself in the game with a halfback pass as Cash Caldon found Ruben Chavez in the back of the end zone to cut the Sedgwick County lead to 22-18.

But the Cougars had the horses to pull away. They scored three straight touchdowns to close the first half, getting a firm grip on Colorado football history.

"It's going to take a second to really feel like we made history," Heath said. "Only one other team in the state has done this. It's going to take a long time for this to set in."

In a way, the fact that it came during an unpredictable 2020 season was fitting. Because of the nature of the way the season played out during the COIVD-19 pandemic, all football games were moved to CSU-P which gave the 8-man players an experience never before seen at in the classification.

Under the bright lights normally occupied by a national championship winning program, the Cougars put their now all-time great program on display.

"I love the atmosphere here," Heath said. "Eight-man, 6-man, 1A, we all play at home fields and this is the first time we've played on a big field. To win a championship on it is pretty awesome."

Ehmke's day ended with five touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown. He was named the game's Most Outstanding Player despite solid performances from several players on the team.

"They have a really good offense and we have a really good offense," Ehmke said. "It was a lot of fun at the beginning. My coach called some great plays, my o-line blocked for me, my wide receivers caught the passes I threw to them so all the credit to them."

The Cougars historical performance is a fitting cap to a historic six-year championship run, and it's not necessarily a run that is ready to end.

Sedgwick County Sanford football

More photos from the game. (Lance Wendt/wendt5280.com)