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The Chadron Cardinals started the 2017-18 season with a lot of promise. They returned players in nearly all key positions and had 12 seniors on the roster in all.

Factor in the coaches rolling out an improved defensive system, and it’s hard to be surprised the Cards improved on their 4-5 2016-17 record by going 8-1 in the regular season and earning a home-game in the first round of the playoffs.

The team again opened the season against rival Alliance, this time at the Bulldogs home stadium, and avenged their 2016 31-14 beat-down with a 36-7 Cardinal win in which the only score against was an Alliance pick-six.

Were it not for a fluky loss to the Gering Bulldogs in mid-September, the Cardinals would have gone undefeated. That doesn’t mean the season was without scares, however, as both Gordon-Rushville and Mitchell challenged the team late in October.

In Gordon-Rushville, the team faced one of the best rushers in the state, Korby Campbell, whose 254 yards on 47 carries nearly did the Cardinals in had it not been for the team’s last second heroics in which Coy Bila and the Chadron offense managed to drive 80 yards, and with two seconds left in the game score the winning touchdown on a 18-yard pass from Bila to Jeff Cerny.

At home against Mitchell they faced Drake Gilliland, another of the state’s best rushers. The Tigers were able to hang with Chadron through most of the game, entering the fourth quarter tied at 14, but the Cardinal defense was able to stop Mitchell from scoring again, and Chadron would score twice more, once on a 23-yard Logan Tiensvold run, and once on a 24-yard Bila pass to Brayden Richardson.

The Cardinals 8-1 regular season record earned them the Class C1-8 District Title and a home game against the Wayne Blue Devils. It was the first time the team qualified for the playoffs since 2014 when the current seniors were freshman.

Unfortunately the Cards were unable to continue their winning momentum against the Blue Devils, and turnovers and missed opportunities cost the team in a close game that ended 30-28 in Wayne’s favor.

In all the Cardinals amassed 3,001 yards to their opponents’ 2,262, out passing their opponents 1,608 yards to 673 yards. Despite a strong season from senior Tiensvold, the team was actually outrushed by their opponents 1,589 yards to the Cardinals 1,393 yards.

For Chadron quarterback and senior Coy Bila, it was another accomplished season. His 64.5% (149-231) passing percentage is now the best in Chadron history, besting former quarterback Jonn McLain’s previous record 62.4% (146-237). Bila, who now holds the first and third place records in that category, had his stats padded by an outstanding performance against Cozad this season where he completed 18 of his 19 attempted passes.

His 149 total season completions bests McLain’s 2008 record of 146 (which Bila had matched in his junior season), and Bila landed himself on the Most Passes Completed (single game) record board three more times this season, against Wayne, Cozad, and Mitchell.

On the other end of the passing, senior Brayden Richardson led the team in receiving with 39 catches for 459 total yards. His 151 yards against Ogallala ranks third on the list of most yards receiving in a single game.

Following Richardson was senior Sam Rischling with 25 receptions for 256 yards, and junior Jake Lemmon with 16 catches for 173 yards.

Tiensvold’s receiving yards were down to 26 catches for 157 yards from 2016’s 35 receptions for 340 yards, but the punishing runner showed his true talent running the ball 176 times for 1,048 hard-fought yards, and scoring 13 rushing touchdowns.

The Chadron senior broke the 100-yard rushing mark five times, and broke the 200-yard mark once, running for 221 yards against Mitchell. The performance tied Colby Riesen for seventh place on the all-time single-game rushing record list. Both performances were against Mitchell, with Riesen doing it back in 2011.

Defensive stinginess was a theme this season as the Cardinals held opponents to one score or less in six of their eight regular season wins, helping the team to outscore its opponents 274-196 across the entirety of the season.

Clark Riesen led the defense with 99 total tackles (58 solo, 41 assists), 9.9 tackles per game, and 12.5 tackles for loss. The second most prolific tackler was Cerny, whose 85 (39 solo, 46 assists) total tackles trailed Riesen by 14. Other defensive leaders included Sam Rischling who, prior to his season ending injury against Ogallala in late September, had 3.5 sacks.

On pass defense, junior Jake Lemmon had four interceptions while seniors Drew Jersild and Brayden Richardson each had three.

The team will graduate 12 seniors this year, including several key pieces in Bila, Tiensvold, Richardson, Rischling, and Cerny, but should have eight players returning as seniors next season. They’ll likely look to current juniors Lemmon and Colton Olson, as well as current sophomore Cooper Heusman, and Riesen to carry the torch for the team next season.

Chad. Oppt.

First Downs 177 131

Total Net Yards 3,001 2,262

Rushes, Yards 1,393 1,589

Passing Yards 1,608 673

Passing 253-240-5 69-160-12

Chadron 88 60 56 70 ----274

Opponents 18 30 21 37 ----196

Rushing No. Yds. Ave.

Logan Tiensvold 276 1,048 6.0

Jake Lemmon 39 244 6.3

Clark Riesen 17 56 5.6

Chris Bruhn 16 52 3.3

Jeff Cerny 9 22 2.4

Coy Bila 29 -24 -0.8

Others 3 -5 -----

Totals 289 1,393 4.8

Receiving No. Yds. Ave.

Bray. Richardson 39 459 11.8

Sam Rischling 25 256 10.2

Jake Lemmon 16 173 10.8

Logan Tiensvold 26 157 6.0

Cooper Heusman 9 149 16.6

Colton Olson 9 102 10.2

Clark Riesen 6 58 9.7

Luke Tiensvold 1 18 18.0

Totals 153 1,608 10.5

Kickoff Returns No. Yds. Ave.

Bray. Richardson 8 154 19.3

Logan Tiensvold 3 115 38.3

Jake Lemmon 7 83 11.9

Clint Bruhn 1 11 11.0

Clark Riesen 1 5 5.0

Totals 20 368 18.4

Punt Returns No. Yds. Ave.

Jake Lemmon 8 61 7.6

Logan Tiensvold 4 42 10.5

Totals 12 103 8.6

Scoring TD *PAT Pts.

Logan Tiensvold 16 7 110

Jeff Cerny 6 3 42

Jake Lemmon 6 2 40

Bray. Richardson 4 0 24

Clark Riesen 2 1 14

Cooper Heusman 1 4 14

Sam Rischling 1 2 10

Colton Olson 1 1 8

Coy Bila 1 0 6

Keelynd Clinton 1 0 6

Totals 39 20 274

Tackles Unas. Asst. Total

Clark Riesen 58 41 99

Jeff Cerny 39 46 85

Dan Dunbar 33 27 60

Colton Olson 18 18 36

Drew Jersild 15 19 34

Joe Matt 14 17 31

PJ Stolley 16 13 29

Sam Rischling 17 11 28

Bray. Richardson 14 11 25

Cooper Heusman 16 8 24

Logan Tiensvold 15 5 20

Jake Lemmon 11 6 17

Beau Jersild 7 7 14

Dylan Jamison 6 7 13

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