ROSWELL — As football season approaches, it is time for coaches and coordinators to start taking a look at their new rosters.
For Cherokee, it comes with an entirely new cast at the wide receiver position.
Four out of the Warriors’ top five leading receivers in terms of yards from a year ago are gone, but the team’s new receiving corps looked capable of carrying the load from their performance in the Corky Kell 7-on-7 tournament Friday.
“What we wanted to see out of our guys was execution, and they’ve done that pretty well,” offensive coordinator Justin Pearce said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys who haven’t played a lot of football, but they’ve been running good routes, and the biggest thing in 7-on-7 is catching the football, and they’ve done that.”
Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said that he liked what he saw from his mostly inexperienced group of receivers. He also emphasized the importance of catching the ball in 7-on-7 play, and he said that they kept their dropped passes to a minimum.
Even Cherokee quarterback AJ Swann said he was surprised by how quickly his receivers performed at a high level.
“They’ve done more than what I’ve asked them to do, and a lot of what I didn’t expect them to,” the Maryland-committed Swann said. “I think they’ve only dropped two balls all tournament, and they made 50-50 balls look easy to them, and they’ve won every single route that I put them on.”
The one receiver at Cherokee with more experience is Adarrius Harshaw. He led the Warriors with 872 receiving yards last year and was a first-team all-Region 5AAAAAAA player.
Swann said there is still a noticeable difference between Harshaw and the rest of the receivers.
Harshaw made the play of the game in Cherokee’s win over Centennial. Despite only being 5-foot 10, he leaped and caught a deep pass over one defender and in front of another for a first down.
Shaw said that he also liked what he saw from Aidan Moore, Caleb Richardson and Keegan Baker, the latter of whom moved from defensive back to play full-time at wide receiver.
Although the tournament was cut short due to bad weather, Shaw said it was a great experience for his receivers. Now, he said it is on them to improve throughout the rest of the summer.
“(I want them) to improve each and every day,” Shaw said. “(They have to) continue to run great routes and take advantage of the fact that we have a very special kid at quarterback.”
Pearce said that he also wanted them to get in the right mindset.
“If anybody stops us, it’s us. ‘Nobody can stop us’ is the mentality,” he said. “I feel like, if we execute and catch the football, then that’s what we should do, so we’ll see.”