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Special teams key for Wallace County

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

HOXIE -- The Hoxie and Wallace County High School football teams were relatively equal on offense and defense in last Friday's 36-28 Wallace County victory.

However, the Wildcats held a big edge in special teams in a matchup of a pair of Kansas' stronger eight-man teams.

Wallace County senior Kyle Gfeller, who worked on his kicking in the offseason, delivered a 35-yard field goal in the first quarter, his first career attempt. Gfeller also finished 1 of 2 on kicking extra points. The first one came from 26 yards out because of a penalty, while the second one was blocked when the Wildcats led by eight.

"We are getting better at protecting it, except for obviously the one that would have put us up nine there," Wallace County coach Kevin Ayers said. "We are getting better protecting it. He has just become a better kicker. He has spent time at kicking camps this summer. It's something that he is passionate about and has really worked on. It's definitely a help to our football team."

Early in the third quarter, Hoxie scored on a 12-yard run from senior quarterback Chase Kennedy. On the next play, Gfeller tacked on a 69-yard kickoff return for a TD. Gfeller received excellent blocking and ran untouched down the right side.

"That kick return really hurt us," Kennedy said.

Later, Wallace County moved the lead to 30-14 after sophomore Hardin Perry blocked a punt. Perry, a reserve, spelled all-state nose guard Dalton Walker on punts and has a talent for blocks. It marked the second straight week Wallace County had a big special teams play on a punt.

In the season opener, senior Cayden Daily took a punt 55 yards. Hoxie battled back to close the game to 30-28, but Wallace County stopped them on the two-point conversion.

"He is quick, strong," Ayers said. "That's his forte. He gets in there. If you notice, we send him in there on punts. It gives Dalton Walker a little break to come off to the side. It's nice to have a little depth there."

Katt with big game

Hoxie junior Connor Katt set his career high in rushing yards for the second straight game. He finished with 15 carries for 178 yards and two scores, including TD runs of eight and 75 yards. In the season opener against Tribune-Greeley County, Katt had 16 carries for 164 yards and three TDs.

For the season, Katt has 31 carries for 342 yards and five scores, for 11 yards per carry.

"He is doing really good," Kennedy said. "I hope he keeps going. He is going to be a good one, I think."

The best play came when Hoxie overloaded the left side. Katt waited patiently, saw the hole from his blockers and burst through. On the 75-yard run, Katt went to the left on 2nd-and-20. Then, he burst into the open and outran Gfeller for the score.

"He does such a nice job," Ayers said. "He has so much speed to the edge and then just waiting patiently and then when the seam opens, he goes through it. They do a great job of blocking the sweep the way coach (Lance Baar) sets all that up.

'It's just very difficult to defend," Ayers added. "I don't think the average fan sees all that stuff that is going on up front with their front five and what they are doing to set all that up, but it is a very good play for that football team."