CANTON — Following a last-second loss to Etowah, Cherokee will have to regroup quickly this week to prepare for another formidable opponent.
“There’s not much time for a hangover,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said on Monday.
Roswell (3-1,0-0) will travel to Tommy Baker Field this Friday and bring with it a five-game winning streak against the Warriors. Shaw led Cherokee (4-2, 0-1) to victory over Roswell in 2013, but only twice in 19 attempts have the Warriors come out victorious in this series. Despite the history, Cherokee seemingly has all the pieces needed to defeat Roswell in this Region 4AAAAAAA matchup.
Both the offense (22.6 points per game) and defense (12.6 points allowed per game) for Cherokee are among the best in the region.
“We really talked this morning about finishing,” Shaw said on Monday. “We just talked about how close we really are. It’s frustrating to lose at home like we did on Friday and when we went through the film we really felt like let one slip away.”
Cherokee’s offense looked explosive in the first half against Etowah, with sophomore quarterback A.J. Swann passing for three touchdowns including two to fellow sophomore Adarrius Harshaw. The running game was held in check, however, as Cherokee’s leading rusher Keith Adams Jr. was held to 42 yards on 12 carries.
Shaw said defensive breakdowns in the second half cost Cherokee last week, but added that there were positives on that side of the ball to build upon as well. Cherokee will need to be prepared for a power run game this Friday as the Hornets’ backfield features a pair of talented senior running backs. Savion McCrary and Nnamdi Orjioke will both carry the ball and will run behind tight end John Copenhaver and offensive tackle Trey Zimmerman, both three-star recruits and both University of North Carolina commits.
Roswell’s defense also features a number of Division I prospects. Safety Doneiko Slaughter is a three-star recruit who is committed to Arizona State University and cornerback Ivan Yates along with linebacker Will Troutman both have multiple Division I offers.
“They’re very good across the board,” Shaw said. “They hang their hat on running the ball, so we’ll have to be ready to stop stop the power. And they’re exceptional on defense. They’re outside linebackers are as good as you’re gonna get.”
Cherokee’s defense stopped Etowah on four downs on a first-and-goal from inside the two-yard line last week and has frustrated most opponents this season. The Warriors’ defense has been the team’s lynchpin and will need to play well again in this Region 4AAAAAAA contest.