By Travis Mounts
This is unchartered territory for the Conway Springs Cardinals.
They are 0-2 on the new season after suffering a 36-0 road loss at Kingman last Friday. They have been shutout in both games and so are still looking for their first points of the season. The Cardinals have not suffered a shutout loss in at least 14 years, and maybe much, much longer.
The good news is, there is still plenty of time to turn the season around. The Cardinals won two playoff games a year ago. With a new district format, they don’t even start district play until Sept. 23.
But there is a lot of work to be done before then.
“We knew going in that we’d have to play perfect to compete with them,” said Conway Springs head coach Matt Biehler. “They’re playing really good football. You can’t have miscues, and we had several.
“We dug ourselves a hole early. We have a few spots to shape up.”
At Kingman, the Eagles scored three times in the first quarter. Two came on short runs to make it 15-0 midway through the quarter. A 73-yard scoring pass pushed the lead to 22-0.
Kingman scored a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown in the second quarter and took a 36-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Cardinals were hurt by four turnovers, including three interceptions.
Conway Springs rushed for 102 yards, compared to 178 for Kingman. The real difference was in the passing game, where Kingman when 14-for-23 for 243 yards, while the Cardinals were 8-14 for 76 yards. Kingman was able to overcome 10 penalties for 100 yards.
Braden Kunz led the Cardinals rushing attack again on Friday, picking up 79 yards on 18 carries. That was high for either team.
Kunz also was Conway Springs’ top tackler with eight, including seven solo tackles.
Biehler said the Cardinals knew they would have a tough run through their three non-district games to open the season.
“We talked to the kids. We knew our schedule was a lot tougher,” Biehler said.
There were bright spots. Biehler said the Cardinals were able to move the ball. They just failed to turn any drives into points. An early turnover hurt them, and a late touchdown was called back because of a penalty.
The Cardinals prefer to face tough opponents early, feeling it will help them be prepared for district play, which begins next week.
The Cardinals return home on Friday night to face the Chaparral Roadrunners. Chaparral is 2-0 thanks to a close overtime win against Medicine Lodge in Week 1 and a 54-41 shootout victory against Trinity Academy last week.
Chaparral will be similar to Kingman. They are balanced between the run and pass. The Roadrunners lost their tall receivers, but they have a good rusher and a strong punt returner.