Now, the Warriors are ready to take on their next challenge in the form of Friday’s season opener at Chattahoochee. The only question that remains is which Warrior team will take the field — the team prone to turnovers and mental errors, or the one that can score touchdowns with ease.
Even in last week’s scrimmage, which Cherokee won, coach Josh Shaw said he wouldn’t have been able to count the number of mistakes the team made.
“We had way too many penalties — probably over 150 yards in penalties — so that is something we want to clean up,” Shaw said. “We had a couple of turnovers that we need to eliminate. If we can do those things, we feel like we will be in good shape.”
The Warriors played the scrimmage without junior running back/defensive back Brittain Brown (ankle), who will also miss Friday’s game with Chattahoochee. In Brown’s absence, the Warriors relied more on their passing game, and they will likely continue to do so.
Cherokee quarterback Spencer Ashley looked better in the scrimmage than he did during any game of the 2013 season, showing confidence and poise as the Warriors took a 35-14 lead near the end of the third quarter. In the first half, Ashley accounted for three touchdowns, throwing two to Andrew Harris and running in another.
The defense made its presence known when sophomore linebacker Jack Carroll pulled down an interception in the third quarter.
Still, Shaw said there is room to improve in every area. He’s looking for returning players like Ashley, Michael Bean, Asher Davis and Travis Head to lead by example.
“So far, this season has kind of been like Jekyll and Hyde,” Shaw said. “We have the potential to play well, but we also don’t put it together all the time.”
As many players Cherokee returns, Chattahoochee seems to be replacing.
Quarterback David Nicoletta will get his first start, as will junior running back Blake Hundley, sophomore receiver Isaac Kinsey and sophomore tight end Brandon Ware. The secondary will see newcomers throughout it as well.
Inside linebacker Josh Weisberg, an all-state honorable mention from a year ago, will be one of few veteran Cougars. The most experienced area for the team seems to be on the offensive line, where it returns three players.
“Chattahoochee got hit hard by graduation, and they lost a lot of players,” Shaw said. “I’m glad we had a lot of our key guys coming back. Last week was a scrimmage, and I think our players played that game with the mentality that it was a scrimmage, and we will see if we can come out firing on all cylinders this week.”
Shaw said his team is excited to play a game that counts for the first time since last November.
“Now, they starting counting, and I think they are excited and anxious to go out and prove that they are a team that can, at the end of the season, be fighting for a playoff berth,” Shaw said. “We had a great week of practice and a great, great day (Wednesday).”