If Cheney football players need incentive to guard against a letdown, coach Tom Oswald will gladly oblige.
He’s been involved in three second-round state playoff games between Frontier League foes where the victor was not the league champion, but its runnerup.
“I remember about 30 years ago when they had the old City League and Gonzaga Prep beat LC 49-0,” he said. “During the rematch, LC won 14-7 in a snowstorm. I’ve never forgotten that.”
So when the Blackhawks begin the second half of the double-round robin league schedule Friday at East Valley, his players will have been amply warned.
“I just told them ‘Its yours to lose or win,”’ he said. “It’s a lot tougher the second time around.”
Oswald said that while Cheney won’t do a lot of things differently, they won’t be able to stand pat and expect to win. He is hoping for more passing productivity from quarterback Pat Stiffler.
Although the team has looked formidable to date, a pair of losses in the second half of the season could result in a multiple tie for the league title.
Oswald credits Cheney’s success to the offensive line play of Steve Hull and Matt Moore starting in place of injured sophomores. He also is pleased with the defense of LC transfer Logan Royce and lineman Seth Morris. The latter figured to play offense only.
Cheney trailed EV at the half before rallying for a 25-12 victory when they first played. The Blackhawks subsequently defeated current runnerup Clarkston 34-7 and last week whipped West Valley 42-9.
“Last Tuesday I threw them out of practice,” said Oswald. “They came back and practiced pretty good. I will say one thing, they’ve played hard every week, even the games we’ve lost.”
One who has played hard has been junior running back Matt Fox. He’s the son of Oswald’s sister, Gayle.
Fox played linebacker for the Blackhawks last year.
“I was hard on him, probably a little harder than I should have been,” said Oswald.
This year he’s been a pleasant surprise on offense.
“I don’t think anybody knew Matt would be as good (of a) running back as he’s been,” said Oswald. “He’s a tough bird. Of course, he’s my nephew.”
Fox lived in Spokane until the Oswald family purchased a homestead near Cheney and his mother bought the house that went with the land. He became a Blackhawk as a freshman.
Fox is leading Cheney in league with 310 yards rushing on 34 just attempts. Included was the Clarkston game in which he rushed for 145 yards on just eight attempts.
“He told his mom before the Clarkston game ‘I think Uncle Tom needs to get on us a little more,”’ said the coach.
Consider it done.