Dunkel punts, Ferguson fullback for West football All-Stars
     2013-06-06      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen - Gering’s Austin Ferguson, fullbacker for the West Team, wraps the football tight, getting ready to take off during the West Nebraska All-Star Football game at Bearcat Stadium on Saturday. 
Mitchell coach, former Tigers also offer strong contributions in 28-10 loss to Cherry-led East

SCOTTSBLUFF – An All-Star game can present some unusual circumstances, and Saturday’s 36th annual West Nebraska All-Star Football Game at Bearcat Stadium offered some unique opportunities for the area’s participants.
The most unusual for the fans, who watched the East team win the game 28-10, likely was when Scottsbluff graduate Ty Dunkel, an all-District B-8 honoree at offensive tackle, took the field on fourth down and lined up as the West’s punter.

A 6-foot-2, 255-pound punter – only in an all-star game.
“Just for some giggles, for the last time I wanted to do something I had never done in my life,” said Dunkel, who did a pretty fair job in his punting gig with an average of 34.4 yards on five boots with a longest punt of 52 wind-aided yards on his first kick.
“For either team, I guess it was just fun to do whatever you wanted to do.”

And Gering graduate Austin Ferguson, more noted for playing tight end and earned all-district honors at linebacker for the Bulldogs, lined up for the West at fullback and had three carries for 4 yards.
“We could try out for any positions, and I had never played fullback before,” Ferguson said. “So that was a lot of fun.”

Scottsbluff kicker Randy Wentz did what he did best for the Bearcats, knocking through a 47-yard field goal that set a record for the event, breaking Alliance kicker Pete Shannon’s 46-yarder from 1994.
And the Bulldogs and Bearcats found themselves on the same side with long-time Alliance rivals Isaac Burnham and Mitch Pancost, whose familiarity with each other resulted in a 42-yard post completion to set up the West’s only touchdown, a 2-yard bolt by Elliot Carlson of Perkins County just 2:30 into the game.

Besides Carlson’s TD and Wentz’s field goal, however, all the other scoring belonged to the East, which was led by its own familiar tandem in McCook quarterback Austin Cherry and Bison running back Cody Wudtke.

Cherry earned offensive Most Valuable Player honors after leading the East offense the entire game, completing 9 of 14 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns and scoring the East’s first TD on a quarterback draw which tied the game at 7-7 with 12:26 left in the second quarter.

Four of Cherry’s completions were to Wudtke, the first of which was a 39-yarder that put the East at the West 6-yard line, setting up Cherry’s TD run. Cherry had 21 carries for 47 yards, while North Platte’s Tyson Chromy led the east with a game-high 49 rushing yards on 10 carries.

Cherry, a nemesis to Scottsbluff and Gering football and basketball teams the past three years who was also the Class B state champion in the 800-meter run and third in the 400 dash at the state track field meet in May, also received the East Sportsmanship Award, an inaugural honor selected by his teammates.
The West Sportsmanship honoree was Blake Poppe, a 6-2, 285-pound mammoth from Perkins County.

Mitchell graduate Brendan Swanson completed two passes for 29 yards as part of a West Passing game first engineered by Burnham, with 6 of 8 completions for 112 yards, and Luke Johnson of Potter-Dix was 7-for-12 for 70 yards with one interception.

Pancost, who led off Alliance’s state-winning 1,600-meter relay and placed fourth in the long jump at the Class B state track and field meet in May, led all receivers with 120 yards on eight catches.
“It was really fun to get to play with those guys,” Ferguson said of Burnham and Pancost. “It was great to be around in the dorms too. They were really funny.”

Dunkel also dropped Cherry for a 7-yard sack in the third quarter, and he chased down Wudtke for an apparent 5-yard loss late in the third.
”Oh, man, that was so much fun!” Dunkel said of his sack. However, in an all-star ruling, Dunkel was penalized on his tackle of Wudtke for what he understood was an illegal end-around blitz.
Still, Dunkel said hanging out with all the players in the game during the week of preparations was memorable.
“On the field, it’s like war,” said Dunkel, who will play football at Chadron State College. “Off the field, it was like we were best friends and we were just really binding together. It was a great experience to come back and play football again (at Bearcat Stadium).”

After the teams supported their respective volleyball teams in the All-Star Match at Western Nebraska Community College and before they had to report for the football game, Dunkel and longtime teammate and buddy Jon Maag spent a little time at the Sugar Valley Arts and Crafts Fair in Frank Park.

While at the festival, Dunkel and Maag chatted with East player Josh Vinton of Mullen before they parted ways to prepare for the game.
Maag, the District B-8 defensive player of the year, will play at the University of South Dakota.
“We do everything together, we’re like best friends and I hope we can stay in touch when he goes to South Dakota and I go to Chadron,” said Dunkel, who is spending the summer playing baseball for the WESTCO Zephyrs American Legion team and preparing for his initial Chadron State football camp.

Ferguson also played in the Panhandle Prep All-Star Basketball Game at WNCC on May 25, scoring two points for the winning Red boys’ team.
“It was tiring but it was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed it,” said Ferguson, who will attend WNCC and major in welding.
Ferguson was joined by fellow Gering graduate Nick Chitwood, who had his name announced several times for tackles made in Saturday’s game. Both Chitwood and Ferguson then turned their attention back to playing baseball for the Gering Platte Valley Companies Post 36 Senior Legion team.

Chris Bailey of Mitchell was one of the West assistant coaches to head coach Dan Lenners of Chase County.
“We got to see some leaders emerge,” Bailey said of the team’s camp experience. “It is so much fun to coach kids with talent like this, but it’s also a lot of fun to coach great kids like this. All these kids were just a blast to coach and it was a lot of fun.”
Bailey said Swanson and Spencer Rien were solid game participants and Mitchell representatives.

“They are both tremendous leaders and I couldn’t be prouder,” Bailey said. “They did everything they were supposed to do in camp, they worked hard and did a great job. They represented Mitchell well and I am super proud of them.”

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