Recognizing the significance of what he had just achieved was a little difficult for Cheney senior Logan Bartlett.
First off, it was hard to keep track of everything he had just done to help Cheney secure a 44-7 victory over Garden Plain, which is the largest victory for the Cardinals over the Owls in the seven decades that the series spans. Cheney improved to 3-0 in a battle of undefeated teams.
There were the three touchdown catches on offense. Then there were the three interceptions on defense. And don’t forget the five extra points and 28-yard field goal he kicked.
“When you’re on a roll, you don’t really think much about it,” Bartlett said after it was all over. “When it’s over, then you look back and realize it was a lot of fun, but you’re not really thinking about it like that during the game.”
There will be a lot of fun to reflect back on for Bartlett after Friday’s performance.
Like the interception he grabbed in his own end zone when Cheney was trailing 7-3 that prevented Garden Plain from extending its lead. Two plays later, Harrison Voth connected with Marcus Peinter for a 70-yard touchdown to give Cheney a lead it never relinquished.
Then there were the pair of touchdown catches he caught in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Both times a Garden Plain defender was next to Bartlett, only to watch helplessly as the Cheney senior created separation at the final moment to haul in the pass.
“Basically what I try to do is be the first one to the ball,” said Bartlett, who finished with four catches for 96 yards. “And then I just get my two hands on it before they can.”
But perhaps Bartlett’s best catch of the night came in the fourth quarter when Voth heaved a prayer to the back of the end zone targeting Bartlett, who had a Garden Plain defender in front of him. The ball went through both of their hands, struck Bartlett in the face mask and bounced into his hands for his third touchdown of the game.
“Geez, Logan had an amazing game,” said Voth, who racked up 340 passing yards. “I have receivers who can catch all of my bad balls. When you have receivers like that, you can put the ball almost anywhere.”
Voth is short-changing himself there. According to Cheney coach Shelby Wehrman, Voth’s improvement from his sophomore to junior season at quarterback is the biggest reason why Cheney is averaging 45.3 points per game during its 3-0 start.
Cheney spreads the field with an array of talented receivers like Bartlett, a 6-foot-4 target in Luke Grace (seven catches, 78 yards, one touchdown), Peinter and Dayton Higgs, which opens up the running game for Quincy Thomas (150 rushing yards). Cheney’s offensive line is led by seniors Landen Ayres, Peyton Hays, Braden Black and Blake Molyneux.
“Harrison has gotten so much better reading the game,” Wehrman said. “You saw a couple of passes tonight where he threw into traffic, but we saw that a lot more last year. He’s just making the right reads and seeing the holes in the defense now.
Garden Plain controlled the first 20 minutes of the game, holding a 7-3 lead thanks to a 60-yard touchdown catch and run by Colby Haukap. But that was the extent of the Owls’ offense, which struggled to establish its power running game.
“Cheney is a good football team and they’ve got a two-headed attack,” Garden Plain coach Dan Adelhardt said. “If we don’t move the football, it’s tough. We can live going 2nd-and-7, but we can’t live with going 2nd- and 3rd-and-12. We’re just not built that way.”
Meanwhile, second-and-long wasn’t a problem for Cheney’s offense.
If it ever did get backed up, Voth was there to rescue the Cardinals with his arm.
“It’s just a lot of fun playing with these guys,” Voth said. “There’s really no pressure on me. I’m learning to read the defense more and I’m understanding the offense more too. I just have fun out there.”
That fun led to Cheney’s most dominant victory over Garden Plain in what had been a lopsided rivalry. Garden Plain had won 17 of the last 19 meetings and is 41-9 against Cheney since 1970.
But with a potent offense, Cheney was able to shatter that expectation on Friday.
“I was kind of in disbelief,” Wehrman said. “I didn’t expect to get behind Garden Plain’s secondary as much as we did, but that’s credit to Harrison and our receivers. Those guys went out there and executed it. I feel like I have the easy part sometimes just calling the plays.”
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