Cherryvale takes down Caney Valley in TVL showdown

CHERRYVALE — If statistics told the entire story of a game, the Cherryvale Chargers may have been in serious trouble in their annual Montgomery County showdown with Caney Valley.

Yet the only thing in the end that mattered was the scoreboard, and the Chargers finished Friday night with an impressive 22-16 victory over the defending Tri-Valley League champion Bullpups at Logan Park Stadium.

Caney Valley actually dominated the final statistics, outgaining Cherryvale 362-206 in total yardage. The Chargers forced the Bullpups into three key turnovers and held them away from the goal line on three red-zone opportunities in the first half that proved to be critical by game’s end.

“I am extremely proud of our kids,” said Cherryvale coach Harry Hester. “We overcame a lot to get to this point. I thought we answered every time we needed to. Our defense played well when we needed to. We are very happy to have at least a split of the TVL title. We will get back to work on Monday and get ready for districts.”

Since their only loss of the season in week two at Humboldt, the Chargers have run off four consecutive wins to improve to 5-1 overall. They also capped off their TVL slate with a 5-1 mark and could earn a share of the league championship by season’s end as the remaining teams battle their way to the end of the regular season.

Cherryvale will face no league teams in district play, which gets underway next Friday with a trip to unbeaten Galena in the Class 3A-District 7 opener. The Bulldogs improved to 6-0 overall with a 33-29 victory over Class 4A-Division II No. 1 Columbus Friday night in a pivotal CNC League showdown.

On the other side, Caney Valley dropped to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the TVL after watching its three-game win streak come to an end. The Bullpups are still in line to capture a share of the Tri-Valley League championship for a second straight year if they win their remaining games against league opponents in district play. Caney Valley has won seven of the past eight TVL championships overall.

The Bullpups will open up Class 3A-District 8 play on Friday as they entertain Eureka. The Tornadoes are 2-4 overall and 0-4 in the TVL following a 19-8 home loss to Erie on Friday. Caney Valley enters as the defending district champion and will be seeking its eighth consecutive appearance in the postseason.

“We had three possessions in the red zone in the first half and didn’t score,” said Caney Valley coach Criss Davis. “You’ve got to give their defense a lot of credit for that. It really turned into a smash-mouth kind of game. Our defense has been playing well all season, but both defenses really rose to the occasion in this one. In the end, they made the plays, and we didn’t. That was the difference in the game.”

Cherryvale definitely seemed to be getting the right bounce of the football early in the contest. On just the second play from scrimmage, a Cade Addis pass was tipped up in the air but right into the arms of Charger receiver Ryan Robertson. After avoiding a Bullpup defender, Robertson sprinted down the sideline and into the end zone from 66 yards for a quick 7-0 lead.

The Bullpups got on the board with a Charger miscue later in the opening quarter. On a fourth-and-20 deep in territory, a high snap on a punt sailed through the back of the end zone, which gave the ‘Pups two points on a safety.

Amazingly, that 7-2 score held up the remainder of the half. Caney Valley did have some scoring opportunities, including one late in the half that could have given the Bullpups the lead. CVHS marched all the way down to the Cherryvale 11-yard line, but on the final play of the half, Charger Garrett Novotny picked off Bullpup quarterback Trey Richey in the end zone to end the threat.

The second half started much like the first for Cherryvale as it quickly went down the field to increase its lead. After picking off another Caney Valley pass on the third play of the half, the Chargers took over inside the red zone and took just four plays to punch it in, capped off with a seven-yard pass from Addis to Dalton Hestand-Vail.

Cherryvale’s lead stood at 14-2 until the early stages of the fourth quarter when things started to get interesting. Caney Valley got its passing game going in a big play, completing three straight plays. Then, on what appeared to be a busted play, Carter Brown found Grant Richey, who worked his way 52 yards into the end zone to narrow the gap to five with 7:37 remaining in the contest.

With momentum squarely on the Bullpup sideline, the Chargers came up with the drive of the game just when they needed it most. CHS chewed up more than four minutes of the clock, moving the ball 57 yards on 10 plays. Trevor Raida capped off that drive with a 15-yard run into the end zone. The Chargers then added the conversion on a pass from Kortland Verge to Robertson to go up 22-7 with 3:16 remaining.

Caney Valley still had some fight in it and managed to go down the field once again on a scoring drive. This time, Brown found Josh Wilson in the end zone on a seven-yard touchdown pass to get back within six with 1:03 to go. But on the onside kick, Cherryvale pounced on the ball at its own 44-yard line and eventually ran out the remainder of the clock to lock up the victory.

Addis completed 5-of-12 passes for the Chargers for 101 yards. Meanwhile, Brown was 10-of-19 for the Bullpups for 183 yards. Grant Richey was Caney Valley’s top receiver with five catches for 117 yards, while he also led the team’s rushing attack with 18 carries for 75 yards.

(Photo credit to Sheri Thompson)