The Cheney High football team’s season ended after a 30-7 loss to the Ellensburg Bulldogs, Nov. 14 in the first round of the 2A state playoffs. The Blackhawks defeated Selah, 41-28, Nov. 10, in a glue-in regional game.
The Bulldogs drowned Cheney, building a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. Running back Ty Graham scored the Blackhawks’ only points in the second quarter with a 1-yard rushing touchdown. The Bulldogs solidified their lead with 13 points in the fourth quarter.
No individual statistics were available as of press time.
“We knew were going in against a good football team, my hats off to them,” Cheney head coach Bobby Byrd said.
Against Selah, Cheney’s running game put on a clinic. Graham opened the Blackhawks’ scoring with a 2-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter. He followed it up with a 4-yard rushing TD to give Cheney a 14-0 lead heading into the second half.
In the third quarter, Logan Kendall followed suit, scoring two touchdowns, one from 23 yards out and a 4-yarder for the other. Graham’s 68-yard rushing touchdown made the score 35-0 heading into the fourth quarter.
Selah avoided the shutout with quarterback Montana Blehm’s 38-yard scoring pass to Dana Williams.
Cheney answered with a 39-yard rushing touchdown from C.J. Johnson. Braden Butikofer capped The Blackhawks’ scoring with a 1-yard rushing touchdown. Between five running backs and quarterback Josh Martin, Cheney had 52 carries for 465 yards. From that yardage, Graham had 24 carries for 233 yards while Johnson had 15 carries for 136 yards.
“Going in we knew they were good, but we also knew they were used to passing so we took advantage with our ground game,” Byrd said.
In passing, Martin was 6 for 8 with 128 yards.
The Vikings gained some momentum after Wyatt Pettijohn scored on a 85-yard kick return. Blehm’s 18-yard scoring pass to Dakota Huntley capped Selah’s scoring.
“The kids knew what we were playing for – a spot in the tournament,” Byrd said. “They were prepared and got the job done.”
On defense Andrew Witt recorded an interception while Cam Hardt led his team with four solo tackles and three assists.
With Byrd leading the team for the second year, Cheney finishes the season 9-2 overall. They had a strong start to the season, winning their first seven games with three being shutouts. In Great Northern League play they picked up back-to-back wins over East Valley, 35-7, Oct. 2, and West Valley, 27-25, Oct. 16. Clarkston handed the Blackhawks their only regular season loss, 52-25, Oct. 23. Cheney ended its regular season on a high note after defeating Pullman, 30-22.
Byrd said he couldn’t be prouder of how his players performed during the season. He credited the part of the team’s success to its unity of the players.
Cheney loses 17 seniors to graduation including captains Graham, who was voted the offensive and defensive MVP for the GNL, Martin and Logan Pratt.
“I’m going to miss our larger senior group, they helped lay the foundation to help build on the great tradition that is Blackhawk football.”
As for next season, Byrd noted Hardt, who made the all-GNL first team, Johnson and Kendall as a few standouts who are likely to come back next year, as well as Cade VanWormer, Chris Fuentes, who will help make up the linebacker core.
“There are a lot of good kids coming back next year,” Byrd said. “Our freshmen and JV teams had successful seasons. There will be a lot of kids fighting for starting positions.”