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2022 Class 6-Man State Football Championship Recap (Presented by Hutchinson Community College)

Earlier in the season, Cunningham defeated Ashland 38-30 in what head coach Lance McGuire said was a penalty and turnover-filled game. The Wildcats defense also was suspect.

And while they still won, a crisper game was going to be necessary from the Wildcats if they were to defeat Ashland for a second time and in a more important game—the first ever 6-Man State Title game.

Cunningham had only five penalties and did not turn the ball over in its 38-16 victory to win the school’s first state football championship.

“The game played out very differently even though it was the same two teams,” McGuire said. “We had more penalties the first time. We turned the ball over the first game.  And they ran on us with some big plays. This time our defense did way better against their run which has been a huge part of their offense in the playoffs.”

The ascent to state champions for the Wildcats is one often seen in movies. They were winless in 2013 and 2014 before consolidating with Kingman.

Then in 2019, football was resurrected at the 6-Man level, where this group of Cunningham seniors went 1-7 as freshmen to state champions three seasons later.

It was a truly remarkable feat that McGuire knows means so much to the community.

“It has been so much fun for the community, and not just those who currently live here,” McGuire said. “I have seen and met Cunningham alumni that live in other parts of the state now who are so invested in our success. Those who aren’t local showed up to Waverly or to the state game because they live closer to those locations. Alumni from years ago, and some of my football graduates from my years here, have sent messages my way to congratulate the boys. State titles have been very elusive for Cunningham. There were several players from the runner-up team in the 1975 state final that attended the game on Saturday. I think it meant as much to them as some of the boys on the team.”

The Class of 2023 will be one that McGuire looks back on and remembers them for being dedicated to improving and showing the school what leadership looks like as it guided them to the ultimate prize.

“They worked harder every year and got better results every year finally going undefeated and on top,” McGuire said. “I hope that their leadership and work ethic rub off on the younger guys.”

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