There’s no doubt that at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, Conway Springs senior Tanner Wood is an imposing figure on the football field. He has made an oral commitment to Kansas State as a linebacker and he’s a punishing presence when he chases down opponents.
He’s just as much of a brute offensively, proving it again Friday night when he led Conway Springs, Class 3A’s top-ranked team, in a 27-14 win over Cheney.
Wood scored all four of Conway Springs’ touchdowns, including a 75-yard kickoff return. He had a game-high 27 carries for 180 yards.
“As he goes on in the third and fourth quarters, he gets better,” said Cheney coach Cory Brack, whose team is 3-1.
Brack was proved correct when Conway Springs (4-0) forced a Cheney punt midway through the third quarter. Conway Springs took over at its own 6 at the 6:10 mark.
Wood had the first two carries, then, on a fake punt on fourth-and-1, he went five yards for the first down. He had nine more carries on the 18-play drive, including the final five.
“He’s a pretty big guy,” said Conway Springs junior Brady Bodine, who had 70 rushing yards. “I don’t know how he doesn’t get tired sometimes. He is running through the middle five, 10 yards every time…. It’s great playing with Tanner.”
Wood capped the 96-yard drive, the game’s final scoring drive, with a one-yard run, 10 minutes, 29 seconds after Conway Springs took possession.
“We wanted to take time off the clock, keep getting yards after touches and keep going,” Wood said.
Conway Springs’ long drive was deflating for Cheney, which, when it finally had its second series of the half at the 7:36 mark, fumbled on the first play at its own 36.
Cheney’s defense didn’t allow a Conway Springs score, but the damage was done.
“We had a chance,” Brack said.
Cheney certainly did, playing tight with Conway Springs through the first half and only trailing 15-14.
After giving up a 33-yard field goal by Conway Springs’ Levi Bond with 2:38 to go in the first quarter for the game’s first score, Cheney drove to the Conway Springs 13. The next four plays, though, resulted in minus-3 yards and Cheney turning the ball over on downs.
Cheney took the lead on a 34-yard run by Cooper Price with 6:10 to go, but Wood returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for the 9-7 lead.
“That was a big lift for us,” Conway Springs coach Matt Biehler said. “We needed a spark there. We were down, and him catching that short kick there, and we had some guys block really well for him. And once he got to the edge, it was tough for anyone to catch him on that side.”
Less than three minutes later, Cheney took the lead again, this time on a 29-yard pass by Tommy Hill to Jared Giefer.
Once again, Conway Springs answered, this time with a five-play, 62-yard drive – Dakota Finstad had a 37-yard run to the Cheney 1 -- and Wood’s one-yard run.
While the loss was disappointing for Cheney, Brack had no problem with a moral victory, especially as his team faces Garden Plain next week.
“This is going to make us better down the road,” he said. “…. We can take a lot from this game. They know they can compete with the best.”
CS – Bond 33 FG
C – Price 34 run (Hageman kick)
CS – Wood 75 kickoff return (missed kick)
C – Giefer 29 pass from Hill (Hageman kick)
CS – Wood 1 run (missed kick)
CS – Wood 30 run (missed kick)
CS – Wood 1 run (blocked kick)