Varsity Kansas

Running game leads Conway Springs past Cheney

Reaching his top speed on the football field is a rare occurrence for Conway Springs senior Dakota Finstad.

Serving as the wingback in Conway Springs’ single-wing attack, Finstad must race to the edge of the field, but not before his wall of blockers do to guide him up the field.

But when he does make that final plant and bursts forward, like he did on three separate occasions Friday night against Cheney, Finstad’s top speed makes others look like they are jogging.

Finstad was the difference in Conway Springs’ 35-6 romp, improving to 4-0 on the season behind the senior’s four touchdowns that spanned 162 yards.

“It feels amazing when you turn that corner and are running by yourself,” said Finstad, whose yardsage came on 10 carries. “I know where my blockers are going to be, so I follow them and they did an amazing job blocking. I trust them over anyone.”

Through the season’s first three games, Cheney’s defense allowed a total of two touchdowns. It took Conway Springs 11 minutes to eclipse that, as Travis Wood plunged in for a 3-yard touchdown for a 21-0 lead that temporarily paralyzed Cheney.

In the first half, Cheney’s five drives produced 16 offensive plays that totaled 18 yards. If it wasn’t for a late 12-yard reception by Isaiah Grover, the Cardinals would have finished the half without a first down on their own accord.

“We didn’t match their physicality,” Cheney coach Cory Brack said. “We didn’t execute what we wanted to do. Their physicality is tough to match in practice and simulate. They come out and they’re fast and they hit hard. I think that stunned us a little bit.”

Cheney never fully stopped the rushing machine that is Conway Springs, as it spit out 378 yards and about seven yards every carry.

But Cheney did halt the momentum after the first quarter, as Brack noted eight points separated the teams in the final three quarters.

“I couldn’t be happier with the first quarter,” Conway Springs coach Matt Biehler said. “But then we got away from playing Cardinal football.”

A victory wasn’t sealed until Finstad ran under a Tyler Amsink prayer on third-and-long and returned the interception 35 yards for a touchdown and 28-6 lead over Cheney with 3:15 remaining in the third quarter.

“You see (Finstad) get going and we get excited,” said teammate Travis Wood, who notched 111 rushing yards and a touchdown. “That’s when you see all the hard work just break free for a touchdown. It’s awesome.”

Finstad grinned when asked about the feeling of turning the corner and seeing nothing but green in front of him.

It happens so suddenly, he says, there’s not much time to think about it. It just happens.

“I’m running as fast as I can,” Finstad said. “And luckily tonight, I didn’t get tackled.”

Conway Springs 21 0 7 7 35
Cheney 0 0 6 0 6

CS — Finstad 43 run (Davis kick)

CS — Finstad 79 run (Davis kick)

CS — Wood 3 run (Davis kick)

C — Grover 8 run (McGuffey kick failed)

CS — Finstad 35 interception return (Davis kick)

CS — Finstad 5 run (Davis kick)

Individual Statistics

Rushing — Conway Springs, Finstad 10-162, Wood 27-111, Fisher 9-62, Stanley 4-21, B. Pauly 2-13, Huff 1-6, Ebenkamp 1-3, Winter 1-0; Cheney, Amsink 13-28, Trego 2-8, Heck 2-6, Grover 6-4, Robinson 1-1, McGuffey 1-0.

Passing — Conway Springs, Stanley 1-1-0-30; Cheney, Amsink 4-16-1-71, Grover 0-1-0-0.

Receiving — Conway Springs, Gillespie 1-30; Cheney, Grover 3-62, Heck 1-9.

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