CANTON — In the 25th meeting of the series, it was Cherokee that came out on top with a 41-20 victory over Sequoyah last Friday at Tommy Baker Field.
Cherokee (2-0) scored 27 unanswered points and shut out Sequoyah (0-2) in the second half to secure the win over its county rival.
“That was a horrendous display of defense for us in the first half, and you can’t do that against (Sequoyah) because they’re too well-coached,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “Our eye discipline was all over the place, and we had more missed tackles than I can count. We just settled down at halftime and then, offensively, we were able to execute some big plays.”
Cherokee racked up 488 total yards, with quarterback A.J. Swann accounting for 365 passing yards and four touchdowns. Swann finished 19-for-29 passing and connected with four different receivers for touchdowns.
Adarrius Harshaw led the way, catching six balls for a game-high 177 yards with a touchdown. Brady Bocherer, Hayden Shockley and Keith Adams Jr. all found the end zone in the passing game as well.
Harshaw’s 55-yard touchdown reception on the Warriors’ first drive was the first score of the game, and the speedy receiver said it was a team effort all night in the passing game. On more than one occasion, he broke loose for big plays on screen passes to the perimeter of the field.
“We all played together tonight,” Harshaw said. “Our blocking on the outside was amazing, and I trust my teammates to do that no matter what. We have so many pieces, I feel like, sometimes, teams don’t know who to guard.”
Cherokee pulled away in the second half, but Sequoyah’s offense looked in midseason form through the first two quarters.
Quarterback Matthew Traynor found running back Jaden Mitchell on an 18-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to immediately answer Cherokee’s opening score. Mitchell finished with 107 total yards.
Traynor’s also found Jack Piskorz on a 2-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the second quarter to give the Chiefs a 20-14 lead. Traynor finished 13-for-21 for 166 yards with two touchdowns.
Sequoyah outgained Cherokee 232-216 in the first half and had 11 first downs to Cherokee’s six. Steven Zurita connected on field goals of 49 and 38 yards, and Sequoyah took momentum in the locker room at halftime.
Cherokee began to slow down Sequoyah’s offense after halftime, however.
After stopping the Chiefs on their opening drive in the third quarter, the Warriors struck back when Swann connected with Bocherer for a 22-yard score. Sequoyah had trouble moving the ball after that.
“I think we just came out slow,” Cherokee defensive lineman Toby Thompson said. “We went back to the locker room and fixed that. We knew that, if we got this stop right here, then we’re going because we’ve got those guys on offense.”
Shockley scored his first career touchdown on a 6-yard slant on the Warriors’ next possession and, following a Chiefs fumble, Joel Stahl connected on one of his two field goals to put Cherokee up 31-20 early in the fourth quarter.
Following another Stahl field goal later in the quarter, Adams’ 65-yard run was the finishing blow. The junior finished with 132 yards on 16 carries.
“We were having a hard time running the ball against them for the majority of the game, but we got them running to outside chasing those receivers, and then it becomes Keith Adams’ time,” Shaw said. “We just settled down and played like we were capable of playing in the second half.”