By Joanna Chadwick
The 2018 season was a tough one for Cheney.
“It’s a little bit harder to go to practice, to do the meetings when you’re not finding the success because you’re not seeing the rewards,” said Cheney coach Shelby Wehrman, whose team was 2-7. “Work ethic is extremely importan because if things aren’t going well, you won’t quit. The other guys hung in there last year, so you try to make it as fun as possible.
“Because of that experience, they understand the process and the expectations. Those habits develop you as a person, so when your talent catches up, it leads you into success.”
Cheney is 4-1 with its lone loss coming to unbeaten Garden Plain.
The Cardinals made one of their biggest statements against Conway Springs in a 49-19 victory.
“That win showed the heart and competitive drive of the players,” Wehrman said. “Going into halftime, Conway had the ball with like a minute and a half left. They were driving into score, they were inside the 10 and Riley (Petz) intercepted the pass and returned it for a touchdown.
“That was probably the biggest play of that game by far. Then we go into halftime up by (two touchdowns) instead of it being a tie ballgame.
“That play right there gave the kids a lot of confidence. If you just keep plugging away and stick with it, we can make things happen — and things will happen.”
Cheney, which beat Collegiate by 25 on Oct. 4, is averaging 53 points a game since its 35-19 loss to Garden Plain in the season opener.
The Cardinals rely on two quarterbacks — senior Zac Block (27-55 passing for 622 yards) and Harrison Voth (14-28 passing, 449 yards).
“They have done a good job sharing the quarterback position,” Wehrman said. “Zac being a senior does a good job of leadership and understanding the defenses and where we want to attack. Harrison is just a fierce competitor. He’s about 160, 170 pounds and he’s not afraid to lower his shoulder and take on a defender.”
Voth also has 366 rushing yards, while Petz has a team-leading 498 rushing yards with nine touchdowns. Petz also has 406 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
“Riley can get outside,” Wehrman said. “We didn’t have the blocking outside last year. This year he’s getting the blocks and can turn a two, three-yard gain into 15-20 because of the blocking.”
Defensively, Cheney is led by linebacker Brody Hillman, who has two blocked punts and seems to be everywhere. Jonas Abernathy and Seth Teague are also excellent leaders.