Caney Valley downs Montgomery County rival Cherryvale in 3A bi-district playoff

CANEY — After Cherryvale captured a narrow victory over Caney Valley in the Tri-Valley League matchup earlier in October, the teams were prepared for another close contest in the playoff rematch Tuesday night.

Instead, the hometown Bullpups turned the Halloween Class 3A bi-district matchup into a nightmare for the visiting Chargers. CVHS jumped out to a 27-0 lead and never looked back as it thumped Cherryvale 55-22 at Caney Valley High School Stadium.

“Our kids came to play tonight,” said Bullpup coach Criss Davis. “That’s something this group hasn’t done all the time. We had to be good in all three phases of the game. Well our pass defense was good with three interceptions. Our special teams were good with a punt and kickoff return for a touchdown. The offense also played pretty well. I’m pretty pleased with their effort. The kids were really focused and came to play.”

Caney Valley avenged an earlier 22-16 loss at Cherryvale on Oct. 6. Davis said that setback helped his team focus down the stretch with four straight wins and a District 8 championship.

“It was definitely a wake-up call … that’s for sure,” Davis said. “It kind of goes with our scheme. Sometimes we just lose focus out there. It’s happened to us twice this season. We have kids that have to stay blue collar for us to be successful. We have to be more physical, more disciplined and do things the right way. That earlier loss got us focused again.”

Now with Tuesday’s bi-district victory, the Bullpups have advanced in the Class 3A playoff bracket as they will hit the road Saturday to Osage City for a regional matchup. The Indians moved to 8-2 overall with a 48-14 bi-district win over Jayhawk Linn.

This will be a rematch of last year’s regional playoff game that resulted in a 43-16 Caney Valley victory at Osage City. Kickoff for Saturday’s regional contest has been set for 4 p.m.

On the other side, it was a tough end to the season for Cherryale — the District 7 runner-up behind Galena. The Chargers, who had won six of their previous seven games heading into the postseason, finished with a 7-3 overall record.

“We got outplayed in all three phases tonight,” said CHS coach Harry Hester, who has directed the Chargers to five postseason appearances in his 10 years as coach. “We gave up a punt return for a touchdown and another inside the 20. We also had a pick returned inside the 20. We didn’t match their intensity early.

“These kids will look back and realize they made the postseason and had an opportunity. As an old, gray-haired man, I can say it hurts. We put a lot of work into this. They’re kids, and it’ll hurt for a while. But 7-3, a league title, a playoff appearance, that’s a pretty good year. We will miss the 15 seniors who played in their last game as a Charger.”

Caney Valley set the tone early in Tuesday’s rematch of Montgomery County rivals. After forcing the Chargers to a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, the Bullpups marched the ball right down the field, going 67 yards in just five plays. Grant Richey capped things off with a 34-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead.

After another punt, the Bullpups were at it again. This time, Cole Ellis capped off a 40-yard drive with a one-yard dive into the end zone to push the advantage up to 14-0.

Caney Valley’s defense was dominant early in the game. In addition to the two three-and-outs to start things off, the Bullpups also picked off two passes in the next two Charger possessions.

Meanwhile, CVHS opened things up with a 27-yard touchdown run by Trey Richey for a 21-0 lead after one quarter of play. The Bullpups increased the edge to 27-0 early in the second period on a 19-yard run from Matthew Simpson.

Not much of anything went right for Cherryale in the first half. In fact, the Chargers had a total of just 17 yards in their first four possessions of the game. But they were finally able to generate something before halftime and grabbed a bit of momentum.

CHS marched down the field on a 12-play, 92-yard drive that chewed up more than five minutes off the clock. The possession ended with a six-yard run into the end zone by Kortland Verge. After the conversion, the Chargers showed a little life down 27-8.

But the Bullpups quickly reclaimed control before halftime. Grant Richey returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown with just 53.9 seconds left. Richey also ran in the conversion to give the host team a commanding 35-8 lead at the intermission.

From there, it was all Caney Valley. Trent Haberly was on the receiving end of a 44-yard scoring strike from Trey Richey to open the second-half scoring. That proved to be the only Bullpup pass the entire contest. Moments later, Brendon Buoy found his way into the end zone from 10 yards out to push the CVHS advantage up to 48-8.

Cherryvale did manage to get back on the board with a 59-yard touchdown pass from Cade Addis to Nick McPherson. The Chargers attempted an onside kick that barely moved off the tee. Haberly ran up to grab the ball and ran into the end zone from 40 yards out to completely deflate the Chargers at 55-16 after three quarters of play.

Caney Valley finished the contest with 325 yards of offense, including 281 on the ground. Grant Richey, who was coming off a 382-yard and six-touchdown performance last Friday against Fredonia, finished with 17 carries for 146 yards.

Cherryvale had 286 total yards in the game — 173 on the ground and 113 through the air. Trevor Raida led the rushing attack with 12 carries for 86 yards.

(Photo credit to Sheri Thompson)