Top-ranked Othello capitalizes on blocked punt, two fumbles to down Cheney 42-7
When you’re playing the top-ranked team in the state, you can’t afford to make mistakes – especially deep in your own territory.
That proved to be the downfall for the Cheney High football team last Saturday on the road in their 42-7 2A state playoff loss to a top-ranked, unbeaten Othello team. The Blackhawks stayed close to the Huskies through the first two quarters of the first-round game, but in the third fell victim to mistakes – a blocked punt and two fumbles – in their own territory resulting in 21 Othello points.
“And therein lies the difference in the game,” head coach Jason Williams said.
The Huskies benefited from the short field for 35 of their 42 points, beginning practically from the start.
On the opening kickoff the Blackhawks recovered a high, short kick misplayed by Othello, giving them the ball in Husky territory. Othello’s defense stopped the drive and Cheney attempted a field goal that was blocked and returned by a Husky player to the Cheney 30, setting up their first score. In the fourth quarter the Blackhawks tried to convert on fourth down in their territory and came up short, setting up Othello’s final scoring run. Cheney also had several dropped passes stymie other drives.
“When you’re playing the number one team in the state you’ve got to play sound,” Williams said.
Cheney’s touchdown came in the second quarter, answering an Othello score with a drive capped by Andrew Graham’s 12-yard TD pass to Eric Igbinoba to make it 14-7 at the half, the closest halftime margin the Huskies have faced since begin tied 14-14 with currently fourth-ranked Prosser at intermission of their game the third week in September.
Williams said his team played well on defense, but if forced the Huskies to change up their offensive scheme by going to a veer. The formation created more holes and made Cheney’s ability to plug those difficult. But the Blackhawks were a more physical team than the Huskies have seen so far this season and despite the lopsided score, Williams said, and he feels they played well against a program that has been to the playoffs for 16 straight seasons.
“We’ve seen the next level and it was a good learning experience,” Williams said of a team making its second consecutive post-season appearance. “The kids are already talking about next year so that’s a good sign.”
Cheney ends with a 6-5 record overall, 4-2 in Great Northern League play, earning a post-season appearance with the league’s No. 2 seed. They lose 17 seniors to graduation, but will return a balanced group of 27 juniors and sophomores off the varsity roster.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.