The intrasquad competition marks the end of two weeks of spring practice.
Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said it was a rewarding time for the coaches and players, who were able to get a glimpse off the product that will be on the field this fall.
Most importantly, they stayed healthy.
“We made it through nine practices and are mostly injury-free,” Shaw said. “We have put a lot of great work in and have identified some young guys who we think will contribute. It’s been a great spring for us.”
Some things haven’t changed for Cherokee.
Rising senior quarterback Spencer Ashley is still taking the snaps, while rising junior Brittain Brown, who had a breakout season last year, continues to impress and collect scholarship offers.
However, most of the Warriors’ offensive line is graduating, as are several receivers, including all-state honoree Blace Brown. Cherokee will also have to do without a few cornerbacks, a member of its defensive line and former backup quarterback Britt Williamson, whose family is moving.
Shaw said the goal of spring practice was to sort through a large sophomore class and identify players who are ready to contribute to the varsity team.
With 98 players on his roster, there was a lot of sorting to do for the coach entering his third season at the Warriors’ helm.
“We have a huge incoming sophomore class,” Shaw said. “We wanted to see what they could do playing against varsity players. We were able to rotate a lot of guys, and I feel like we have the most depth we have had since I’ve been here.”
There are also 30 rising seniors on the roster, many of whom served in backup roles as juniors, and the coaching staff was also looking for guys eager to compete for a starting position.
“Plus, the kids that have been playing had a chance to work on fundamentals and get better,” Shaw said.
Among those players Shaw says have stepped up are rising juniors Eric Patterson and Bryson Perry. Andrew Harris, who made his presence known on the offense last year, has worked with the defense a bit this year.
“We feel like we are pretty athletic in the secondary now, which is good,” Shaw said.
Jamori Fox has performed well on the defensive line, as has Jacob Harvey. Shaw said both have been impossible to stop during blocking drills.
“We have a lot of veteran guys that are ready to be starters, and then four young guys that are pushing them,” Shaw said. “They are all looking really good.”
As for Ashley, Shaw said he looks better than ever. After taking a year off from playing baseball, the quarterback’s arm movements are smooth.
“We aren’t trying to get his baseball throwing motion out of him, like we are usually trying to do in the spring,” Shaw said. “He has really taken command of our offense and has had good quality reps.”
There is no depth at quarterback, as a pair of freshmen will serve as Ashley’s understudies.
“We just have to keep Spencer healthy,” Shaw said.