Kingman beats Cheney for the first time in a century


By Travis Mounts

The Cheney Cardinals did something on Friday night that they had not done since October 2019 – lose a regular season football game.
The Cardinals fell 28-14 to the Kingman Eagles. Both teams are coming off 10-win seasons, but the Cardinals came into the new season having to replace a number of key players on the 2021 squad.
The Eagles jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. The Cardinals cut their deficit in half on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Josh Burdick to a well-covered Brayden Dibble.
Kingman boosted its lead back to two possessions on a 51-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Another rushing touchdown put the Eagles ahead 28-7.
The Cardinals added a late touchdown on a big play as Burdick hooked up with Carson Middleton for a 52-yard touchdown. Burdick rolled out to the right sideline and launched a pass from the Cheney 45-yard line. Middleton beat a defender at the Kingman 20-yard line and rane into the end zone untouched.
Turnovers hurt the Cardinals a lot. They gave up two fumbles and were picked off three times, while the Eagles lost the ball just once on an interception. Kingman scored off of multiple Cheney turnovers on Friday. One turnover came on the first play of the game. The Cardinals threw an interception on the next series.
“We said we couldn’t afford to do that,” said Cheney head coach Shelby Wehrman. “They’re a good team. They have a lot of good players.”
Wehrman said Cheney’s energy did not match Kingman’s at the start of the game. That was a problem last year, too, even though the Cardinals won in 2021.
“Those mistakes beat you down a bit. But I was proud of the way our guys kept battling,” Wehrman said.
He said Cheney’s defense got more aggressive as the game went on. He felt the Cardinals were starting to wear down Kingman in the third quarter when the Eagles held a slim 14-7 lead, but the Cardinals committed another turnover. Kingman scored on the ensuing play.
The Eagles have become a good program in recent years with Cheney High graduate Tanner Hageman coaching the team. Kingman was picked by many Central Plains League coaches as the league favorite this year.
The Cardinals were limited in their rushing, gaining just 20 yards on the ground. They were much more successful throwing. Josh Burdick was 22-for-35 passing, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Cheney also struggled on third down, converting three of 12 tries.
The Cardinals gained 244 yards passing. Jackson Voth was the top Cheney receiver, with 10 receptions for 95 yards. Carson Middleton had 83 receiving yards. Voth was the top tackler with seven.
This apparently was Kingman’s first win over Cheney since 1920, although teams have rarely faced each other as they were in different leagues for much of the time. The Cardinals and Eagles have faced off only five times since World War II, but have played the past three seasons as members of the Central Plains League. Cheney won by 20 points last year and won by 24 points in 2020.
The Cardinals face a long-time rival this Friday as they visit the Garden Plain Owls.
The Owls are coming off a defensive battle with Conway Springs, another of their main rivals. Garden Plain scored the game’s only touchdown in the final minute of the game (see related story).
Wehrman said Garden Plain’s new flex bone scheme features a lot of misdirection.
“It worries me. A lot of teams get better between Week 1 and Week 2. I can see a lot of areas where they’ll improve,” he said.
The Cardinals’ focus this week is on eliminating turnovers and playing faster on defense. Wehrman said the Cardinals need to improve their read and reaction times, and be the aggressor.
At 0-1, this is the first time Cheney has been under .500 since a season-opening loss to Garden Plain in 2019. The Cardinals bounced back to win nine games that season.