Nov. 10—The Nevada Tigers host Carl Junction for the Class 4 District 7 championship game tonight.
Nevada Head coach Wes Beachler said he has been "pleasantly surprised" after graduating nine all-conference athletes in the Big 8 and three all-state guys from last year's team.
A big part of how they got there was on the shoulders of senior running back Jack Cheaney.
The Tigers are known for their rushing attack, and it is no secret as Cheaney has toted the ball 161 times this year for 1,823 yards and adds 144 yards as a receiver. The standout athlete has 29 total touchdowns this year and 27 are on the ground.
"Obviously, Jack Cheaney has been a huge surprise," Beachler said. "We knew he was talented last year as a sophomore."
Beachler added that his offensive line has been a big part of this year's success as well as the linebacker group. Those linebackers are led by senior Henry Campbell with 124 total tackles. Talan Chandler is committed to play college football at Colorado University under Deion Sanders. Chandler plays at left guard for the Tigers.
"Those guys (linebackers) play really well on the defensive side," Beachler said. "They read well, they play really fast and they've just been really strong for us. ... Our offensive line and our fullback, Grady Stewart, have done a great job getting our running backs in space."
Beachler reached out to all the conference coaches that were moving on to the district championship round after last week's semifinals round and told them that the Big 8 is what prepares them for this stage of the season. He also knows that Carl Junction comes in having dealt with a tough schedule in the Central Ozark Conference and believes the Bulldogs will be prepared.
"They are well-coached. Coach (Todd) Hafner's doing a good job in his first year there," Beachler said. "They're getting better as the year goes on. ... A lot of teams in Southwest Missouri would have that record playing the schedule they play.
"If you get to a district championship, you're a pretty good team."
The thing that stands out about Nevada this year is the teamwork. The Tigers have continued to embrace a team-first mentality rather than putting individuals first and that's something Beachler has noticed about his group the past four seasons.
After Cheaney, there are three other ball carriers who have rushed for more than 400 yards. Seniors Dezmon Robinson and Brice Budd are over 500 yards, with 534 and 520, respectively. Robinson and Budd both have seven rushing touchdowns this year as well. Junior Gabriel Smith adds 404 yards and seven touchdowns.
RECORD IN REACH
Cheaney is just 33 yards away from 2,000 combined in rushing and receiving. He's also just 177 yards away from 2,000 in rushing alone. But the junior needs just 25 more yards to break a single-season record at Nevada.
The record was set by Avious Steadman during his junior season back in 2021. Cheaney will look to surpass his mark tonight.