Cheney runs record to 3-0, faces Pullman in league opener Friday
Smothering defense and an opportunistic offense propelled Cheney to a 27-9 win over Idaho 4A school Lakeland in the Blackhawks football home opener last Friday night at Tom Oswald Field. Quarterback Andrew Graham scored on a 1-yard run and hooked up with wide receiver Logan Clayden on a 16-yard TD pass as the Blackhawks built a 17-3 halftime lead and held on to go 3-0 for the second time in three years.
“We stuck to our game plan to control the ball and control the line of scrimmage,” head coach Jason Williams said.
Graham’s first score came on Cheney’s opening possession, which began at the Lakeland 16 after a bobbled snap and punt of one yard. Tom Trude converted a third and 10 with a 14-yard run to the Hawks 2, setting up Graham’s TD run off left tackle.
Cheney returned the favor on its next possession, fumbling the snap and giving Lakeland the ball on the Blackhawks’ 19. The defense held the Hawks to just three yards, with Cade Coffey’s 33-yard field goal making it 6-3 with 3:58 to play in the first quarter.
Cheney stretched its lead on a possession that began at the Lakeland 44, with Graham hitting receiver RC Reed on a fourth-and-four pass conversion down to the Hawks 16. On third and 11, Graham found Clayden on a short route over the middle for the TD, hitting tight end Brett Wyborney for the 2-point conversion.
The Blackhawks again got the ball on the Lakeland 44 just before the half, thanks to a pair of Keenan Williams sacks that left the Hawks with a fourth and 30 at their 13. Galm capped the short drive with a 32-yard field goal.
Lakeland appeared to gain some momentum with the recovery of an onside kick to begin the second half, advancing to Cheney’s 20 on a personal foul call. The Blackhawks defense stiffened and held, batting down a pass on fourth and four, and the offense subsequently drove to the Lakeland 1 before turning the ball over by fumbling another snap.
But the defense forced a punt that once again gave the Blackhawks the short field at the Hawks 38, and Graham capped that drive with his second 1-yard TD plunge making the score 24-3 with just four seconds gone in the fourth. Lakeland made it 24-9 on Colton Butcher’s 1-yard run, but Devon Waterman blocked the PAT attempt and Galm kicked another 32-yard field goal with 2:24 to play to cap the scoring.
Williams was happy with his team’s performance, pointing to the play of Williams at defensive end and defensive back Konstantin Mikhalchuk as particularly impressive. Both correctly diagnosed several Lakeland plays to make stops for loss, with Williams’ 15-yard sack of quarterback Tyrel Derrick in the fourth quarter pretty much done with one hand.
Things will be different for Cheney this week as the importance of the games increases with the beginning of Great Northern League play, hosting Pullman Friday night at Eastern Washington’s Roos Field. The Greyhounds are 2-1, the only loss a 40-14 road setback at the hands of a strong 1A Freeman team.
Pullman likes to put the ball in the air, featuring the arm of quarterback Mason Petrino and his favorite target David Ungerer. They’ll go no-huddle quite a bit, Williams said, while defensively line up much the same as Lakeland, nose guard and a pair of tackles while moving their linebackers up and stacking them inside.
The Greyhounds also come into the game as the defending league champions, beating Cheney 22-20 last year on a late safety. The Blackhawks wound up with the league’s No. 2 seed to the playoffs.
“It’s league now, so it all counts at this point,” Williams said. “I’m pretty excited.”
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.