Blackhawks capitalize on four interceptions to build 24-0 lead in win over host Red Devils
Not even an hours-long road trip and ton of penalty yardage could keep the Cheney football team out of the win column last Friday night.
The Blackhawks overcame a three-plus hour road trip and 160 yards in penalties, many coming late in the game, to knock off East Valley-Yakima of the 2A Central Washington Athletic Conference 30-8 in the season opener for both teams. The win avenged a 12-6, last-minute loss last year to the Red Devils at Eastern Washington University’s Roos Field.
“The kids played well, it was a nice start,” head coach Jason Williams said.
It took a while for both the offense and defense to get going, Williams added, but when they did they showed their potential. After a scoreless first quarter the Blackhawks caught a break when an interception gave them the ball on East Valley-Yakima’s 35 yard line.
Cheney capitalized on the mistake with a 19-yard pass from quarterback Andrew Graham to tight end Keenan Williams, who bowled through three Red Devil defenders en route to the end zone.
Cruz Galm connected on his first field goal from 42 yards out to put Cheney up 10-0, and Graham made it 17-0 right before the half on a 1-yard touchdown run, both coming as a result of interceptions at the 30- and 36-yard lines. The Blackhawks extended the lead to 24-0 on Austin Kline’s 14-yard TD run in the fourth quarter, and after East Valley-Yakima’s Brandon Cox scored on an 18-yard pass from Damon Nester, followed by a 2-point conversion, put the game officially out of reach on Graham’s 44-yard TD pass to RC Reed.
Graham was 10 for 23 for 134 yards with two TDs and two interceptions, rushing four times for 18 yards and another score to lead the Blackhawks.
Williams said the offense and defense really stepped up their play late in the first half and especially in the final 24 minutes. Backs in the Blackhawks “tailback by committee” scheme began figuring out where the holes were, lineman stayed with their blocks better and the defense began to swarm the Red Devils, making adjustments to their timing and using better angles to the ball carrier.
“Our program is at a point where the confidence is there in what they (players) know to do,” Williams said.
Cheney (1-0) hits the road again this weekend on an even longer trip – an almost five hour bus ride to Omak to face the Pioneers of the 1A Caribou Trail League. Cheney whipped the Pioneers 56-0 last year at Tom Oswald Field, scoring all eight TDs on the ground.
Omak was a very inexperienced team last season, especially defensively where they gave up 442 total points. Williams said they will likely throw a little of everything at Cheney offensively, including some wishbone and spreading the field with three receiver packages.
As for the travel time, Williams doesn’t see it as an issue, especially after last Friday. Not only did the Blackhawks varsity complete the trip with a win, but so did Cheney’s freshmen team.
“We’ve got that dress rehearsal out of the way, so we know what to expect,” Williams added.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.