Published On: Sun, Dec 18th, 2016

FOOTBALL: Four Braves named All-Conference 

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OH YEAH: Byron Locust (#70), Braves junior lineman, celebrates a crucial sack that helped Cherokee defeat Choctaw Central on Sept. 2 to win the Battle of the Nations game. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

 

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF 

Four members of the Cherokee Braves 2016 varsity football team have been named to the Smoky Mountain All-Conference team.  Byron Locust, junior lineman; Tye Mintz, junior quarterback; Zak Perez, junior lineman; and Holden Straughan, junior wide receiver.

This year’s Braves finished their 2016 season at 9-5 and made it to the 1A West Regional semi-finals in the state playoffs.

SURE HANDS, FEET: Holden Straughan (#20), Braves junior wide receiver, catches his feet after breaking a tackle following a catch against Swain County on Oct. 7. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

SURE HANDS, FEET: Holden Straughan (#20), Braves junior wide receiver, catches his feet after breaking a tackle following a catch against Choctaw Central on Sept. 2. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

 

Mintz anchored a strong Braves offense and completed 134 of 240 passes for 1,870 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.  He also rushed the ball 149 times for 1,028 yards and 16 touchdowns.  Straughan was one of Mintz’s favorite targets on the season and caught 44 passes for 518 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Locust was second on the team with 81 total tackles (both assisted and unassisted), two fumble recoveries and two sacks.  Perez added 61 tackles of his own in the stiff defensive front.

Three other Cherokee players were named Honorable Mention All-Conference including: Isaiah Armachain, Cade Mintz, and Isaiah Evans.

Cade Mintz caught 139 passes for 769 yards and 6 touchdowns.  Evans was the team’s leading rusher this season carrying the ball 203 times for 1,155 yards and 21 touchdowns.  Much of this season’s rushing totals are due to the strong offensive line that included Armachain at tackle.

DOUBLE-THREAT: Tye Mintz (#1), Braves junior quarterback, runs for a big gain at Cosby (Tenn.) on Sept. 9. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

DOUBLE-THREAT: Tye Mintz (#1), Braves junior quarterback, runs for a big gain at Trinity Academy (Tenn.) on Aug. 19. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

 

The Murphy Bulldogs, who won this year’s 1A State Championship with a 15-14 victory over Plymouth, had the most All-Conference players including: Joey Curry, Travis Seabolt, Isaac Stafford, Joe Deetz, Colton Posey, Kadrian McRae, Adam Powell, Luke Newton, and Slade McTaggart.

Other SMC All-Conference players included:

– Hayesville: Colton Thomas

– Robbinsville: Logan Odom, Colby Hemphill, Josiah Phillips, Elijah Wachacha, Chandler Jumper

– Rosman: Tanner Whitman

– Swain Co.: Seth Parker, William Paul, Craig Cutshaw, Holden Petty, Corbin Wildcat, Ice Littlejohn, Brier Younce, Dylan Smith

Murphy’s longtime coach, David Gentry, who won his seventh state title this season, was named Coach of the Year.  Murphy’s Joey Curry and Adam Powell were named Back of the Year and Lineman of the Year respectively.

ROCK: Zak Perez (#54), Braves junior lineman, lines up strong against a Hayesville opponent on Nov. 4. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

ROCK: Zak Perez (#54), Braves junior lineman, lines up strong against a Hayesville opponent on Nov. 4. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)