CANTON -- Cherokee’s offense dominated the first half, and the Warriors coasted to a 41-7 victory over Woodstock at Tommy Baker Field.
With the win, the Warriors (5-0, 1-0 Region 5AAAAAAA) moved into a region clash next week at fellow unbeaten Roswell.
The Warriors’ offense took over the game in the second quarter, scoring 21 points, en route to a 34-7 halftime lead.
The impressive period was highlighted by a third-down conversion where AJ Swann found Hayden Shockley deep down the sideline. The junior receiver proceeded to stiff-arm a defensive back to the ground to finish off the 80-yard scoring play.
“We played really good in the first half, in all aspects,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “I was really excited we got the passing game back on track after we were off a bit last game versus Cartersville.”
Swann carved up the Woodstock defense and finished the day with 247 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
“He was doing a good job of extending the play, but we’ve got to lock onto our guys in the back end,” Woodstock coach Brent Budde said. “We’ve got to not get drawn into seeing the guy running around.”
Cherokee's defense proved as dominant as the offense, holding Woodstock (2-4, 0-1) to 26 rushing yards. Additionally, the Warriors forced a turnover on downs in the red zone in the first half.
“Defensively, we gave up too many third-down conversions, but, at the end of the day, we held them to seven (points),” Shaw said. “Our defense all season, when we get inside the 20, has done a tremendous job.”
Cherokee exploded out of the gates as Adarrius Hawshaw took the opening kickoff 99 yards, giving the Warriors a 6-0 lead 18 seconds into the game.
“Over the bye week, special teams was something we really focused on, so it’s really exciting for those guys because what they had done actually worked,” Shaw said.
The Warriors’ passing attack came out firing. Facing third down on their first possession, Swann rolled away from pressure to find Shockley for a 50-yard touchdown pass to push the Warriors to a 13-0 advantage.
Woodstock strung together an eight-play, 53-yard scoring drive that was capped off be a 17-yard touchdown connection from Dan Comeau to Wes Bruno to pull the game to a 13-7 margin.
Comeau finished the day with 216 passing yards on 43 attempts.
“They did a good job getting off of our blocks. That’s a credit to them, but we’ve got to block better to take some pressure off our quarterback,” Budde said.