ROSWELL — Cherokee and Creekview both made the second round of the Corky Kell Classic 7-on-7 tournament after a day of round-robin play in the 95-plus degree heat.

Even in their round two losses on Friday afternoon at Blessed Trinity High School, both teams showed plenty of promise heading into late June.

River Ridge was also competitive in its first-round game against Monroe Area. The Knights fell 25-15 but limited big plays from an explosive offense.

Cherokee finished Friday’s competition 3-3 overall and had a statement win over Blessed Trinity in the tournament’s opening round. The Warriors took a 6-0 lead on their first drive, thanks to three straight completions from rising sophomore quarterback Tanner Savasir.

After Blessed Trinity tied the game at 6-6, Cherokee responded with two straight 20-plus yard touchdowns and was in firm control.

“We competed and played hard,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “We exceeded my expectations, really. We had some close games. We just have a young group, but I am extremely pleased with where we are at.”

The Warriors’ defense played well in the first-round game and carried it into the first few drives of the second-round matchup with Monroe Area. Rising junior Canyon Lewis broke up multiple passes in the secondary and intercepted one from the Hurricanes.

Cherokee took a 16-0 lead against Monroe Area and started with a long touchdown pass from Savasir to rising sophomore receiver Gracen Sexton. Savasir then connected with rising junior Weston Bergman from 15 yards out for the multi-score lead.

Monroe Area’s furious late rally, however, sank the Warriors in the second round, 28-16.

Youth is all over the Warriors’ roster for the upcoming season, but it has not stopped them from making plays on both sides of the ball. Rising sophomore Jayce Jones was a huge factor on offense, reeling in a pair of touchdowns in Cherokee’s win over Blessed Trinity.

“That is what it is all about,” Shaw said. “One of the greatest things about being a coach is watching kids develop. It is great seeing these kids come up each year through our program, and seeing how they get better, work hard and compete. We are going to be really young, but we have some very talented players.”

Creekview jumped on Archer for its first-round tournament win. The Grizzlies also have some younger players stepping into key roles, especially rising sophomore Austin Guest at quarterback.

Rising senior defensive back Taylor Cox-Young impressed with his play on both sides of the ball. Cox-Young made some big catches and turned around as a critical piece of the Grizzlies’ secondary alongside rising juniors Josh Tuten, Andrew Adams and company.

“We saw a lot of good, and we saw some things we need to work on,” Creekview coach Trevor Williams said. “Our guys responded throughout the day and showed they are growing up. For some of these guys, it is their first varsity reps, and they played well.”

The Grizzlies played the No. 2 seeded Mays in the second round and lost by just one point. Williams said his group had a chance against the Raiders, keeping one of the field’s stronger teams on its toes.

River Ridge drew a challenging first-round matchup with Monroe Area but fared well. Rising senior tight end Jackson Head was a game-changing presence and caught a 10-yard touchdown in traffic for the Knights’ first score.

“He is one guy that seems like he has been doing this for five years now,” River Ridge coach Michael Collins said. “He is as solid as they come. He ran great routes and made some great plays. I am very proud of his effort, and he did a great job of leading us.”

Another team with a young roster, the Knights’ defense limited the Hurricanes’ big-time playmakers. Rising senior defensive back MJ Ayers had a couple of noteworthy pass breakups.

River Ridge took a rotational approach with its quarterbacks, with both rising junior Isaiah Coughlin and rising sophomore Ethan Spector getting reps. The Knights fell 25-15 in the first round, though there was plenty to build upon.

“For a lot of these guys, this is their first real experience,” Collins said. “We found some good spots and had some good things done today. Hopefully, we will learn from it. This is all about getting better.”


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