With a playoff berth already locked up, Cherokee will look to gain a bit of momentum before its second straight postseason appearance.
Cherokee (6-3, 2-2) will travel to Lassiter (1-8, 0-4) on Friday for both teams final game of the regular season. The Warriors lost last week at Walton and is now locked into a road playoff game for the first round of the playoffs, whether as the No. 3 or No. 4 seed out of Region 4AAAAAAA.
“To be honest with you, the way that we played against Walton, with letting another fourth-quarter lead slip away, we’re really treating this week to work on ourselves,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “We had nine drops -- three on long bombs -- that probably would have resulted in touchdowns.”
Cherokee quarterback A.J. Swann was intercepted three times last week, but Shaw said it was probably Swann’s best game of the season. The sophomore finished with three passing touchdowns and has been one of the better passers in Cherokee County this season with 1,703 yards and 13 touchdowns through the air.
Lassiter has scored double-digit points only once this season and is coming off a loss to Etowah in which it posted 17 yards of total offense. A matchup against Cherokee’s defense, which has allowed 13.5 points per game and has been one of the better teams in Cherokee County at causing turnovers, is not likely to be favorable for the Trojans.
“A lot of what Lassiter is running is stuff we’ve seen from other teams,” Shaw said. “We’ve put a game plan in for them, and we’ll be ready to play, but, really, this week has been about focusing on cleaning up our own mistakes. We’ve had some leads that we’ve let slip away and we hope that, as we continue to play, we’ll start finishing some of those games.”
For Cherokee, a shift in expectations can be viewed as a positive.
“A few years ago, we would have been happy to make the playoffs,” Shaw said. “I’m glad we’re at a point in the program where we’re a little disappointed not to win region.”
Lassiter has played multiple quarterbacks this season, but junior Brayden Lind has seen the most action. Fellow junior Channing Canty was an offensive bright spot last week, with 37 rushing yards and a touchdown, but Shai Valencia has been the team’s main back this season with 349 rushing yards on 108 carries.
Canty leads Lassiter in receptions with 23, while Matthew Grachen leads the way with 220 receiving yards.
Defensively, senior safety Jack Ferguson has been all over the field for the Trojans. Ferguson has 97 tackles and is among the top tacklers in Cobb County.