High School Sports

Improved offensive line should spark QB Henry Cheney, Charles Wright

Bigger. Stronger. Meaner.

That could be the motto for Charles Wright Academy football for the 2015 season. A season removed from having offensive and defensive lines that were undersized, their massive growth will be a huge factor in improving on last season’s 4-6 record.

“Last year, our lines were predominantly small sophomores, maybe 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds,” head coach Mike Finch said. “All those guys grew an inch and gained 15 to 30 pounds.”

Finch laughed at a moment during the first day of camp. Junior lineman Evan Minsk needed only a handful of plays at summer camp to notice the difference.

“I can’t believe how much easier it is,” he screamed.

The stronger offensive line will be huge to the continued success of senior quarterback Henry Cheney. His junior season was one to remember. He was a dual threat, passing for 2,311 yards while adding 537 yards with his legs. He had 28 total touchdowns.

But Finch said he’s noticed Cheney’s knowledge of the playbook improve from last season.

“He’s our Russell Wilson,” Finch said. “He creates things and gets us out of bad situations. When Russell should be sacked, when Henry should be sacked, he doesn’t.”

Cheney is hoping to improve his pocket presence this season. In the past, he said he has a tendency to roll out when things get dicey. He sees the improvements on the offensive line and thinks those will help.

Cheney will be breaking in a new group of receivers this season after he said four senior receivers from last season graduated. But, he’s already pleased with the progress they’ve made building chemistry.

“When we do offensive scouting, we look pretty good,” he said. “Each week, we get a lot better. We were pretty rusty because it’s a new group of guys. Those guys are ready to step it up for sure.”

On defense, the Tarriers return two all-league defensive backs in Alex Meadowcraft and Desmond Jones. They also play offense, with Finch noting Meadowcroft as one of the offense’s biggest playmakers.

“He’s an ity-bity kid,” Finch said. “He’s 5-foot-9 on a good day, 130 pounds soaking wet. He’s just a nasty football player. Alex has that mentality. He’s not a bad kid when I say nasty and ruthless, but he’s scrappy. He’s relentless.”

Charles Wright has a tough nonleague schedule, starting with a road game against Tenino on Friday, then No. 7 Eatonville the following week. Tenino easily toppled Charles Wright, 50-8, in last season’s opener.

Cheney, however, has revenge on his mind.

“We’re ready to get them back,” he said with a smile. “They kinda took us down last year.”

preps@thenewstribune.com

The News Tribune will visit 17 high school football practices in the 14 days leading up to the first Football Friday of the season, breaking down some of the teams, players and storylines entering the 2015-16 season.

The tour will include three schools from the 4A Narrows League, four teams from the 4A SPSL, two from the 3A Narrows League, two from the 3A SPSL, one from the 2A Evergreen Conference, two from the 2A SPSL, one from the 1A Evergreen, one from the 1A Nisqually and one from the 2B Pacific.

Teams will be revealed each day, starting with the first day of official practices Wednesday, Aug. 19.

TNT PRESEASON PRACTICE TOUR

Practice preview: South Sound’s four most illustrious 4A schools enter new eras

Aug. 19: Timberline Blazers

Lincoln Abes | Video: Masaki Matsumoto on a mission

River Ridge Hawks

Chief Leschi Warriors

Aug. 20: Bonney Lake Panthers | Video: Panthers have pieces in place

Aug. 21: Federal Way Eagles | Video: D’Jimon Jones, Andrzej Hughes-Murray stepping up

Aug. 22: Kentlake Falcons

Aug. 24: Spanaway Lake Sentinels | Video: Big guys key for Sentinels’ season

Aug. 25: Emerald Ridge Jaguars | Video: Can new players bring ER similar success?

Aug. 26: Black Hills Wolves

Aug. 27: Stadium Tigers | Video: Don’t expect same 0-10 Tigers

Aug. 28: Yelm Tornados

Aug. 29: Clover Park Warriors

Aug. 31: Mount Tahoma Thunderbirds

Sept. 1: Eatonville Cruisers

Sept. 2: Charles Wright Tarriers

Sept. 3: Sumner Spartans

Sept. 4: First Football Friday of the 2015-16 school year

LEAGUE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS

In-depth look at some of the top storylines, team-by-team breakdown, games to watch and predictions from the 4A Narrows, 4A SPSL, 3A Narrows, 3A SPSL, 2A SPSL, and 1A Nisqually, as well as capsules from other area small-school teams.

State football overview: Dual-threat QBs have Auburn Mountainview, Gig Habor thinking state

Preseason TNT All-State football team: Graham-Kapowsin’s Foster Sarell on of nation’s top 2017 recruits

Preseason TNT rankings: Gig Harbor No. 2 in 4A, Auburn Mountainview third in 3A, Tumwater 2nd in 2A and Cascade Christian No. 3 in 1A

4A Narrows: Olympia will compete for playoff spot, like always

4A SPSL: UW commit Amandre Williams can do just about everything for Tahoma

3A Narrows: Is that Xavier Cooper? Or Wilson’s A.J. Ruffin?

3A SPSL: Lakes cousins Jaiave Magalei and Maika Magalei might as well be brothers

2A Evergreen: Team capsules

2A SPSL: Willie Patterson, Alex Bing can lift Franklin Pierce back to league title

1A Nisqually: Team capsules. Story Saturday.

Small schools: Team capsules

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