CANTON — Cherokee County bowed out after two rounds of play in the inaugural girls flag football state playoffs.
Two local teams competed Tuesday night in the Class 6A/7A tournament, but Sequoyah and Cherokee both came away with defeats. Woodstock was forced to forfeit its game due to COVID-19 protocols.
Sequoyah, playing at home as the No. 1 team in the state, lost 18-12 to South Forsyth in a game decided in the final 30 seconds.
With the score tied at 12-all, South Forsyth’s Delaney Pate hauled in a touchdown pass from Ashley Chu with 13 seconds remaining. Sequoyah managed to execute a final few plays, but the game ended in disappointment.
“We made a lot of mistakes. There’s no denying that,” Sequoyah coach Emily Ryan said. “Take one or two of those away, it could have been a different game. We had a game plan, but South Forsyth took it at us. They’re a good team, and they took it at us from the start.”
It was the first loss of the season for Sequoyah (12-1), which won its first-round game 34-0 against Central Gwinnett.
South Forsyth opened the scoring when Chu scored on a quarterback keeper early in the first half, but Sequoyah fought back behind touchdown passes from Bailey Hodgins to Calli Stanley.
Hodgins finished 15-for-21 passing, while Stanley finished with a game-high five receptions. Kylee Santana finished with a team-high 10 pulls on defense.
Sequoyah will lose five seniors this offseason, but the future remains bright. Emotions were high following the loss, but coaches praised the players in the postgame discussion. Two years into building a program, Ryan said the group of players has left a mark for others to follow.
“Last year, you walked around and basically nobody knew that flag football existed,” Ryan said. “And this year, wherever I go, people see the Sequoyah flag football logo and they say, ‘Oh, I hear you guys are pretty good this year.’ That’s really a commendation for those five seniors who have been here from the very beginning. They made a name for this program, made a name for this sport and made a name for women in football.”
Facing one of the better teams in the state, Cherokee lost 12-0 at Forsyth Central. The Lady Warriors finished their season 4-3-2, and coach Tom Stringfellow echoed Ryan’s sentiment that the sport has seen significant growth within Cherokee County.
Cherokee will lose eight seniors this offseason, but the accomplishments for the 2020 Lady Warriors did not go unnoticed.
“I think this year, with everything that went on, it would have been easy for girls to quit, but they chose to stick it out. That says a lot about the athletes we have,” Stringfellow said. “There’s only going to be one happy team at the end of the year. I’m just so proud of them. Our seniors have given us a foundation that we can be proud of, and the underclassmen are expected to grow it next year.”