It’s “wait until next year” for the Cheney High football when it comes to postseason play.
Needing a win at Colville and some help from West Valley against Pullman, the Blackhawks got neither. The Eagles fell to the Greyhounds in double overtime, setting up a showdown this Friday with Colville for the No. 2 and final playoff berth while Cheney’s rally came up short in a 19-13 loss to the Indians.
“Everybody played hard,” head coach Jason Williams said. “It was just one of those games.”
Injuries and illness helped sideline Blackhawks starters Brett Wyborney, Logan Clayden and Shane Hammel. Those two maladies also hobbled tight end Keenan Williams, who’s played banged up the past several games, and quarterback Andrew Graham, who Williams said was “pretty sick” and played as much as possible until being replaced by sophomore Josh Martin late in the game.
Williams said that led to putting several reserve players into starting roles, including a pair of sophomores at linebacker – not a good recipe against an Indians team that likes to run the ball and eat up time and yardage in 2, 3 and 4 yard chunks.
Colville’s running game ate up nine minutes of the first quarter, with a 90-yard drive on the opening kickoff capped by Zack Shoemaker’s 1-yard TD run. Williams said the drive set the tone for the game, with the Indians running the play clock almost down to zero each time before snapping the ball.
In response the Blackhawks needed just three plays to tie the game, with Graham hitting sophomore wide receiver Chance Gleave on a 43-yard scoring strike. But after that it was all Colville until the half as Cheney struggled to run the ball and couldn’t find any rhythm offensively.
“They’d just lull you to sleep with that running game,” Williams said.
Colville implemented a pair of drives in the second quarter, capped by TD runs of 27 and 4 yards by Journey Young. Williams said the Blackhawks got organized in the locker at the half, at least defensively, and managed to contain the Indians’ ground game in the second half.
Cheney finally found some rhythm in the fourth, pulling to within 19-13 on Austin Kline’s 3-yard run. The Blackhawks had one last shot after fielding a Colville punt on its own 30 with 57 seconds left, but couldn’t complete the rally.
“There were just not enough ticks on the clock,” Williams said.
Cheney falls to 6-3, 2-3 in league action and out of the Great Northern League playoff picture. The Blackhawks have a great chance to post seven wins for the second time in three years as they host Clarkston, 0-5, 1-8, Friday at Tom Oswald Field.
The Bantams play a fairly straight up 4-3 defense and like to operate out of the I formation offensively, but haven’t been as dynamic this season with the graduation in 2013 of running back Colby Ruark and quarterback Austin Hansen.
“I think we’ll have a pretty good shot at them, get a ‘W’ and get set up for next year,” Williams said.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.