Tri-Valley League rivals Caney Valley, Cherryvale to meet in bi-district playoff

As the final seconds ticked off the clock of Cherryvale’s 22-16 home victory over Caney Valley on Oct. 6, there was a sense that these teams would meet again down the road. That rematch comes on Tuesday in the bi-district round of the Class 3A playoffs.

The 7-2 Bullpups will entertain the 7-2 Chargers in another installment of the rivalry between the longtime Montgomery County and Tri-Valley League rivals. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Caney Valley High School Stadium.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less than another competitive game between our teams,” said CVHS coach Criss Davis, whose squad has won three straight games since that loss to Cherryvale en route to the District 8 championship. “The first ball game between the two of us was a really good game. We both had opportunities early in the game, and both of us struggled with those opportunities. I expect two teams that are going to go out there and give everything they have. It should be a good game.”

Cherryvale coach Harry Hester also expects another competitive game between the two teams that should go down to the wire.

“I think both teams will be ready to go and play hard,” Hester said. “Most of these kids have played each other from third grade on. It will be a great atmosphere in Caney.”

Caney Valley and Cherryvale shared the Tri-Valley League championship with Humboldt this season. Although the Chargers played one less league game, they earned a piece of the title with the earlier win over the Bullpups.

Unlike the earlier matchup in Cherryvale, the playoff meeting will take place in Caney after the Bullpups captured the district title. CVHS rolled through District 8 by outscoring Eureka, Neodesha and Fredonia by a combined score of 150-21.

CVHS has won six of its last seven games overall. The Bullpups will try to control the game with a ground attack that racked up 473 rushing yards in a 49-14 win at Fredonia last Thursday.

Leading the way is senior running back Grant Richey, who is coming off the game of a lifetime. He finished the Fredonia game with 18 carries for what is likely a school-record 382 yards, including six touchdowns on runs of 68, 62, 70, 70, 14 and 60.

“Grant is such a great kid,” Davis said. “He understands and appreciates what the line did for him. He knows he couldn’t do it without the way they blocked. He did a good job in the open field and made people miss when he got into the secondary. But the line did a great job all night blocking for him.”

Caney Valley has now reached the postseason for the 12th time in the past 14 years, including an eighth straight appearance. A year ago, the Bullpups advanced all the way to the sectional round of the playoffs before dropping a 67-31 decision to Rossville.

Cherryvale advanced to the postseason for the 11th time in program history by finishing as the runner-up in Class 3A-District 7. The Chargers punched their playoff ticket last Thursday with a 35-6 home win over Southeast-Cherokee.

Since a 22-8 road loss at Humboldt in week two, CHS has won six of its last seven games overall. Its lone loss during that stretch was a week-seven setback to unbeaten Galena, which went on to capture the District 7 championship.

The Chargers got the upperhand in the earlier meeting with the Bullpups. Although Caney Valley had a 362-206 advantage in total yardage, CHS’ defense came up clutch at big moments. The Chargers forced the ‘Pups into three turnovers and held them away from the goal line on three red-zone opportunities in the first half.

“It’s a double edged sword playing Caney for a second time,” said Hester, who has led the Chargers to the playoffs in five of his 10 seasons at CHS. “That win was great, and it was a great ballgame. It’s hard to play a team twice, especially if you win. They have a ton of motivation, but I think our seniors learned from the experience as sophomores when we were in the same boat playing Neodesha twice. I think they we will be focused and understand that they are a good team, and we must bring it.”

The victory earlier this month was just the second for Cherryvale over Caney Valley in its last 11 meetings since 2004. Prior to this season, the only other Charger victory over the Bullpups during that stretch was a 37-6 decision in Cherryvale in 2015.

The winner of Tuesday’s contest will take on the winner of the bi-district playoff game between Osage City (7-2) and Jayhawk Linn (8-1) in Saturday’s regional round.

Here is the full bracket for the Class 3A football playoffs:

Class 3A State Playoff Bracket

(Photo credit to Sheri Thompson)