Cherokee

Chase Goddard works his way upfield against Woodstock. The Cherokee offense will try to vault the Warriors into first place in Region 5AAAAAAA on Friday at Roswell

Game: Cherokee (6-0, 1-0) at Roswell (5-0, 1-0)

Last year: Cherokee 21, Roswell 14

All-time series: Roswell leads 17-3

Prediction: Cherokee 28, Roswell 17

The potential path toward a region championship will be up for grabs this week in Roswell.

Cherokee (6-0, 1-0) will travel to Roswell (5-0, 1-0) this Friday for a battle between the two remaining unbeatens in Region 5AAAAAAA. Cherokee’s 21-14 victory over Roswell last fall was one of its biggest of the season, but historically the Warriors have not fared well against the Hornets, as Roswell holds a 17-3 all-time series lead.

Cherokee defeated Woodstock 41-7 last Friday in what may have been the Warriors’ most complete game of the season. The 41 points were tied for the most points scored this season while the seven points surrendered were the fewest. The passing game came back to life with junior quarterback A.J. Swann tallying 234 yards and four scores while the defense forced multiple turnovers once again. The defense is averaging two forced turnovers per game and has intercepted at least one pass in every game this season.

“It’s a mentality and we just play assignment football,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said. “We just haven’t had a lot of busted assignments. Turnovers are the X-factor in football and you’re going to win more games than you lose when you’re on the positive side there.”

Cherokee senior linebacker Braesen Parker leads the county in tackles and finished with 10 tackles, three pass breakups and an interception against Woodstock. The Warriors tallied 14 pass breakups against Woodstock and the secondary of Riley Lyons, Austin Trimble, Keegan Baker, Chase Goddard and Ryan O’Keefe has been impressive thus far this season.

Roswell defeated Etowah 21-14 and has defeated its opponents by an average score of 33-13. The Hornets have been balanced on offense, averaging 220 passing yards and 223 rushing yards per contest.

Quarterback Robbie Roper has taken over behind center for the Hornets and he has completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,073 yards with 11 touchdowns. Marquis Willis caught six passes for 66 yards and a touchdown against Etowah and is Roswell’s leading receiver with 27 receptions for 467 yards and four scores. Ryan Hill (407 yards and four TDs) leads Roswell in rushing and is coming off a 100-yard, one score performance against Etowah.

The importance of Friday night’s game will certainly be on the minds of Cherokee fans as the Warriors are in search of their first region title in program history. Shaw said he challenged his team’s focus last week entering region play, emphasizing the importance of remaining aggressive in their mentality. Off to their best start to a season since 2007, the Warriors and their fans are rightfully optimistic about the remainder of the season.

“This week is where scheduling those difficult non-region games can help us,” Shaw said. “We’ve played some really good teams and the fact that we’ve seen similar teams to Roswell can help. Our team is playing with a lot of confidence right now, and that’s not something I can coach them to do. It really comes from the leadership of our guys.”

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