Game: Cherokee (6-1, 1-1) at Etowah (0-6, 0-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Etowah 27, Cherokee 24
All-time series: Etowah leads 19-17
Prediction: Cherokee 35, Etowah 10
Cherokee County’s oldest rivalry, one that dates back to 1978, will resume this week in Woodstock.
Cherokee (6-1, 1-1) will travel to Etowah (0-6, 0-2) this Friday and both teams will be looking to bounce back after tough region losses last week. Cherokee dropped its first game of the season in a 35-28 loss at Roswell while Etowah was defeated 38-0 at Milton.
Etowah defeated Cherokee on the final play of the game in 2019 and one year later the Warriors will be looking to exact revenge.
“I can promise you every kid on our roster remembers that game from last year,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “I can tell you this, though. Etowah is a lot better than their record. I’ve known coach (Matt) Kemper for a ton of years and he’s one of the best coaches there is. We’re going to have to play better this week than we did last week if we expect to win.”
Cherokee went toe-to-toe with Roswell in a top-10 matchup but fell just short of remaining undefeated. The Warriors’ offense has come to life in recent weeks, averaging 35 points per game over the last two games. Junior quarterback A.J. Swann has asserted himself as one of the best players in Cherokee County (1,406 passing yards and 15 touchdowns) after finishing with 321 yards and three scores against Roswell. Adarrius Harshaw has also separated himself in the county’s receiving yards category after finishing with 171 yards and 10 receptions last Friday.
The 35 points were the most surrendered by the Cherokee defense this season and Shaw said a refocus on that side of the ball will be a priority this week.
“We played very uncharacteristically,” Shaw said. “We’ve played extremely well defensively all year and we did not on Friday with way too many busted assignments.”
Etowah faced one of the most talented rosters in the state last week and the task will get no easier this week. The Eagles’ schedule has been nothing short of daunting this fall, with their opponent’s combined record now at 31-6.
Offensively, the Eagles have relied on their running game with senior running back Klivert Many leading the way. Many was held in check against Milton but still sits third in Cherokee County in rushing yards.
“We were just physically outmatched last week,” Etowah coach Matt Kemper said. “We’ve still got some kids missing and we’re pretty banged up. We’re gonna try to put our kids in a position to have some success because we know Cherokee’s got a pretty good team.”
Defensively, Etowah’s senior duo of Lane Cantrell and Austin Skinner has been as reliable a unit as exists in the county. Cantrell is in the top five of tackling leaders in the county while Skinner — who finished with 15 tackles against Milton — has reassumed his spot in recent weeks as one of the best linebackers in the area. Carlos Thornton Jr. (31 tackles and one interception) and Trevor Fair (32 tackles) have also been two of the better pieces on the Etowah defense throughout the season.