Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Kasten Earns MVP Honors in Can-Am All-Star Game

Local Athlete Hangs 'Em Up After Stellar Performance

For the last four years, the Panhandle area sports scene has been dominated by the best athlete in the region, Luke Kasten of Potter. The Potter-Dix 2023 graduate burst on to the scene four years ago as a freshman, leading the Potter-Dix Coyote 6-Man football team to a resurgence that in following years saw undefeated seasons and chances to play for State Championships. I remember when I first saw Kasten play football four years ago saying to one of the parents watching, "This kid is amazing".

"Wait until you see him play basketball," was the reply.

Then basketball season started and there Kasten was again, carving up defenses and setting up the offense, skying up to the rim to grab rebounds and passing the ball all around the court to get the offense going.

Potter-Dix had gone through some down years in football and basketball, but Kasten's arrival quickly changed the fortunes for both teams. He was tall and long-limbed, but also very fast and well-coordinated, with the ability to out-jump taller athletes and change directions in an instant. For those that use the "Eye Test" in judging athletes, Kasten's ability jumped out instantly, with his combination of speed and size, and most importantly, his seemingly effortless way of dominating the competition in every facet of whatever game he was playing. And let's not forget, Kasten was a multiple-year, multiple event State Qualifier in Track& Field.

Since his sophomore year, every team that played Potter-Dix in football and basketball had to adjust their schemes to try to stop Kasten. Usually, whatever new scheme or wrinkle that was tried, failed. Whether it was in football or in basketball, Kasten was a game-changer that not only was difficult to contain, but also elevated the play of all of his teammates. Although Kasten has now graduated, don't expect a big letdown from the Coyote Football or Basketball teams this year as Kasten's playing style and excellence have helped fortify both teams and will carry over for years to come.

Kasten was selected to play in the annual Can-Am Bowl, a 6-Man Football contest between the best players from the northern Midwest in the United States and from Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada. Kasten made the drive up to Hanna, Aberta, which is about 60 miles northeast of Calgary. The trip itself up there was quite a journey. "I had to drive my car from Potter to Lambert, Montana, which is about a nine hour drive, then we took a bus up to Hanna," said Kasten.

Kasten got to play for team USA, with the best players available from Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and Texas. Kasten was the consensus 6-Man Defensive Player of the Year in Nebraska, but was also an excellent offensive player. Although it was a long trip and Kasten was playing with a new group of teammates, he quickly adapted. "The field we played on was really nice, artificial turf. Some of the rules are different in Canada, like the field is 110 yards long instead of 80 like in the United States."

Kasten and his teammates adapted, and adapted quickly, as one of Kasten's teammates took the opening kickoff and returned it for a touchdown, giving team USA a quick 8-to-0 lead. On the Canadian team's first possession, Kasten played defensive end, and was in the backfield applying pressure immediately. On third down, Kasten broke through and blocked the pass attempt to shut down the Canadian drive. It became clear quickly that the American players were superior to their Canadian counterparts, and that it would be a long day on the gridiron for the hosts.

Kasten noted, "I believe the quality of players on our team was much better than the Canadians. They were still a very good football team, but we had a lot more players to choose from than they did."

The American team handled the Canadian team easily, building an insurmountable lead and eventually winning the contest by a final score of 84-to-16. Kasten was a force on the field, and earned USA Player of the Game honors. Kasten made many spectacular plays, but one sticks out in his mind. "I was rushing the quarterback, and fell down on my way to get there. I kept going, crawling, then got the sack when I wrapped him up while on my knees."

His Player of the Game honor is the last of many honors he has received during his high school years in multiple sports. But as he has now graduated, he's decide to move away from sports and focus his attention on his future. "I will going to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to major in agricultural economics. I will not be playing any sports as I am calling it quits."

Although Kasten's future does not include athletics, it will be very bright as he is a great student and was the Potter-Dix 2023 Salutatorian. He is a hard worker and disciplined student, and will use the skills he mastered to excel in athletics to ensure his success at the University of Nebraska. Although sports fans in the Panhandle region will miss watching him excel in football and basketball, we all wish him the best of luck and tremendous success for the future.


Reader Comments(0)