By JOHN McCALLUM
Omak learned the true meaning of the phrase “Speed kills” last Friday night, thanks to the Cheney football team.
The Blackhawks ran around, through and past the visiting Pioneers, scoring all eight of their touchdowns on the ground, three by Austin Kautzman and two by Marquis Allen, in a 56-0 romp over the team from the 1A Caribou Trail League. If it wasn't for a couple penalties negating other scores and a running clock after a 40-point lead, it could have been worse.
“We played pretty well, and bounced back well,” head coach Jason Williams said of his team's performance following a last-minute 12-6 season-opening loss to East Valley (Yakima) Sept. 1.
Friday's game was pretty much over before it got dark. On its first possession Omak fumbled on a pass completion, and Cheney recovered at the Pioneers 37. One play later, Kautzman took a toss around the left side 37 yards to the end zone and 7-0 lead with just 22 seconds gone off the clock.
After an Omak three and out Cheney took possession at its 23 and after an initial first down, thanks to a couple penalties, wound up facing a first and 22 at the 21. This time it was Allen busting another toss left for a big gain, stepping out of bounds at the Pioneers' 46. Three more runs by the senior led to his 14-yard scamper for a 14-0 lead.
An illegal block in the back on Omak's next punt negated Eric Igbinoba's return to the Pioneers 25. But with the ball on its 48, Cheney smashed its way downfield, with Cameron Schlotter scoring from the 1.
Igbinoba picked off an Alexander Aguilar pass on Omak's next possession, and Kautzman followed with his second TD, a 20-yard run with 2:33 still to play in the quarter. Omak finally put together a drive that ended the first quarter and consumed the first 5:27 of the second, but came up short on fourth down at the Cheney 27.
Williams tried a new wrinkle in the Blackhawks offense with the Wildcat formation, inserting Igbinoba at quarterback in place of starter Andrew Graham, and a couple plays later on first and 10 at the Omak 46, the senior tossed left again to Kautzman, who picked up blocks, found holes and out ran the Pioneers to the end zone for his third TD.
An Omak punt gave Cheney the ball at its 27, and a play later on second and three at the 34 Allen took a toss left and turned up field for a 64-yard TD run. The effort was for naught as a holding penalty downfield brought the ball back to the 30.
Not to be denied, Allen did virtually the same thing, this time sprinting 70 yards for the score that held up, giving Cheney a 42-0 halftime lead. The Blackhawks added a 12-yard TD run by Tom Trude in the third quarter and a 9-yard run by Austin Kline in the fourth for the game's final points under a running clock.
Williams was pleased with his team's performance, noting blowout games such as last Friday can be hard to play and coach, and can result in injuries if players don't play hard. But after the East Valley (Yakima) heartbreaker, it was good to get the win if just for the mental aspect.
The Blackhawks (1-1) face a stern test this Friday, traveling to Rathdrum, Idaho to take on 4A classification Lakeland (0-2), 38-14 losers last week at East Valley.
It's the home opener for the Hawks, who lost in the first round of the playoffs last year to Middleton, and the third time the two schools have met in the past four years. In 2008 Cheney won at home 30-10 and in 2009 opened a 27-7 lead on the road before Lakeland rallied for a 34-33 win.
Williams said the Hawks “play fast” on offense and employ a lot of misdirection out of their Wing-T set. Defensively they like to stunt and crash players in and out of the line of scrimmage, somewhat akin to the “Desert Swarm” defense of the 1991-94 Arizona Wildcats.
Whatever they run, Williams said it's a team that plays hard from whistle to whistle.
“We'd better be ready to play four quarters,” he said. “It'll be a stiff test.”
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.