By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Just days after claiming its first-ever state football title, accolades began flowing in for the Cherokee Braves football team. Kent Briggs was named co-Smoky Mountain Conference Coach of the Year along with David Gentry, Murphy’s long-time coach, and Neil Blankenship at Swain County.
Tye Mintz, Braves senior quarterback who was named most valuable player in the state championship game, was named Smoky Mountain Conference Back of the Year as well as receiving All-Conference honors. He accounted for 3,744 total yards and 51 touchdowns on the season. He completed 105 of 178 passes for 2,040 yards, 18 TD, 7 INT, and he carried the ball 164 times for 1,704 (10.4 yards per carry) and 33 TD. Mintz’s biggest game of the year was in the third round of the state playoffs against Thomas Jefferson where he threw for 70 yards and a touchdown and gained 363 yards on the ground and scored six touchdowns.
Issiah Bradley, an EBCI tribal member from Robbinsville, was named Conference Lineman of the Year. He helped anchor a Black Knights offensive line and averaged seven tackles per game on defense (98 total).
Other Braves named to the All-Conference team are: Zak Perez, Isaiah Armachain, Byron Locust, Isaiah Evans, Cade Mintz, Will Davis, and Holden Straughan. Perez, Armachain, Locust, and Davis were the force up front from Cherokee’s potent offense which averaged 273.9 rushing yards a game and 417.8 total yards per game. All three were active on defense with Locust leading the team with 87 tackles, 16 of which were for loss. Davis ended the season with 72 tackles followed by Armachain 52 and Perez 38.
Evans had a banner year as the Braves’ main running back. He carried the ball 192 times for 1,429 yards (7.4 per carry) and 21 TD. Two of Tye Mintz’s main receivers on the year, Straughan caught 24 passes for 448 yards and 3 TD and Cade Mintz caught 47 passes for 1,129 yards and 10 TD.
Four Braves were named Honorable Mention including: Blake Smith, Joaquin Layno, Demetryus Bradley, and Damian Blanton.
The rest of this year’s All-Conference team includes: Abe Christensen (Andrews), Andrew Horton (Andrews), Mark Cothren (Hayesville), Jake Hincke (Murphy), Travis Seabolt (Murphy), Micah Nelson (Murphy), Kadrian McRae (Murphy), Joey Curry (Murphy), Hunter Shope (Murphy), Cory Farmer (Murphy), Slade McTaggart (Murphy), Blake Sawyer (Robbinsville), Will Hopper (Robbinsville), Rylee Anderson (Robbinsville), Isaiah Bradley (Robbinsville), Elijah Wachacha (Robbinsville), Freddy Romero (Robbinsville), Josiah Phillips (Robbinsville), Deland Thomas (Rosman), William Paul (Swain County), Brodie Bowman (Swain County), Holden Petty (Swain County), Noland Brown (Swain County), Ice Littlejohn (Swain County), and Briar Younce (Swain County).