After suffering its second straight loss last week at the hands of Creekview, Cherokee is determined to turn the tide against another strong opponent Friday at Cartersville.
The running game will be critical for the Warriors (2-2), who have struggled to establish any sort of consistency in that regard over the last two games. Coach Josh Shaw is looking to fix that.
“We are switching some guys around,” Shaw said. “We are going to rotate some guys at running back as well. Cartersville runs the same exact defense we do, so it is what our offense goes against throughout the year. Our offensive players should be familiar with it.”
Shaw said he plans to go with a running back-by-committee approach Friday. The first thing he mentioned about the preparation for this game was the importance of establishing the ground game.
Third down is another area in which the Warriors are looking to improve from their last two outings. The offense missed opportunities to convert, and the defense has given up some big conversions, despite being strong overall.
“We have to be better at getting off the field on third down and better offensively on third down,” Shaw said. “(Cartersville is) a very good football team. They have some good wins, and we are going to have to play well defensively.”
Cherokee was forced to replace seven starters on the defensive side coming into the season, and it touts some good but younger linebackers who were pressed into starting roles. Shaw, however, has seen improvement in that group each week.
Despite the latest losses, the Warriors are not pressing. The non-region defeats are not season-ending, and they believe all their goals still lie ahead.
“We really treat these first five games as being the so-called preseason,” Shaw said. “The last five are the ones that dictate the playoffs and whether or not you are home or away in the postseason.”
Cherokee seeks offensive improvement after being held under the 200-yard mark the last two games. Injuries have limited the Warriors’ offense, but Shaw believes he still has plenty of talent at his disposal.
Even with those last two games, Cherokee still holds an average of 232.8 offensive yards per game. The offense has proved its explosiveness, especially in the Warriors’ season-opening romp of Mays, and they are looking to rediscover that early success against Cartersville (3-0).
“We want to consistently be able to move the ball down the field and score some points,” Shaw said. “We have been held under 200 yards the last two weeks, so we want to put some points on the board and move the ball effectively.”