ERIE — With both the Cherryvale Chargers and Erie Red Devils coming off their first wins of the season in Week 2, Friday night’s matchup provided an opportunity to go into district play on a winning streak.
Cherryvale pounced on that opportunity, winning on the road 33-8 behind three total touchdowns from Zaine Lantz.
“Any time you can win in that fashion, you’ve got to be proud,” Cherryvale head coach Harry Hester said. “Our kids faced some adversity tonight. But our kids will always fight and show some resiliency. We took care of business and overall took a step forward. Now we need to continue that to start district play.”
The Chargers got out ahead of Erie early, taking a 13-0 lead into the second quarter and never looking back. Cherryvale racked up 315 yards of total offense, including 239 on the ground.
Wyatt Gillman, who had a touchdown in the fourth quarter for Cherryvale, led the Chargers with 130 rushing yards on 18 carries.
Lantz proved to be the playmaker on Friday night for Cherryvale, rushing for two touchdowns and 79 yards on eight carries while also have two catches for 40 yards and a score.
“We were doing some things early with him,” Hester said. “We executed well. Zaine sees the field really well and his experience is really showing. He did an outstanding job on both sides of the ball.”
Gavin Hooper was 6-of-16 passing for 76 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also pulled in an interception on defense to ice the game in the fourth quarter.
“He showed composure and that he’s a smart player,” Hester said. “He makes a lot of good decisions and throws a good ball. He understands what we need to do.”
Dawson Lehman accounted for Erie’s only touchdown in the second quarter.
“Dawson works hard and plays hard,” Erie first-year head coach Eddie Kearns said. “He’s a player that runs hard.”
Erie’s offensive line, afflicted with injuries, struggled to keep pressure off the quarterback.
“Due to injuries, we’ve taken some tight ends and make them guards and tackles,” Kearns said. “We knew they’d be learning. We’re still trying to get everything secured through these first few games.”
Kearns also pointed to yellow laundry as a backbreaker for the Red Devils.
“Cherryvale is a very good, well-coached team,” Kearns said. “We had a mental lapse where we got too high and couldn’t come down. We had penalties and big mistakes on almost every big play we had.”
Now sitting at 1-2 overall on the season, Erie hits the road to start district play in Week 4 at Riverton.
“We’ve been taking baby steps up to this point,” Kearns said. “We’re trying to change the culture and it won’t happen overnight. Once our kids start believing themselves, good things will happen. I really believe we’re starting to turn the corner.”
As for Cherryvale, now 2-1, they host Belle Plaine to start its district play on homecoming night next Friday.
“We’re always focusing on the little things,” Hester said. “We had young players step up tonight due to injuries. We had some sophomores in there. We have a lot of things we need to clean up. Now everybody is 0-0 in district play. We want to be one of the top four teams and be in the playoffs. We’re excited about that.”
Cherryvale 33, Erie 8
Cherryvale: 13 6 8 6 — 33
Erie: 0 8 0 0 — 8
CH: Gavin Hooper 16-yd pass to Jacobi Barnett, 7-0
CH: Zaine Lantz 16-yd run, 13-0
CH: Hooper 34-yd pass to Lantz, 19-0
ER: Dawson Lehman TD, 19-8
CH: Lantz 60-yd run, 27-8
CH: Wyatt Gillman 6-yd run, 33-8