Published On: Sat, Aug 25th, 2018

FOOTBALL: Braves win third straight Battle of the Nations 

THREE: The Cherokee Braves hold the Battle of the Nations trophy, their third straight victory in the series, after defeating the Choctaw Central Warriors 27-6 at Ray Kinsland Stadium on the evening of Friday, Aug. 24. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

 

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF 

 

For the third straight year, Cherokee (1-1) defeated Choctaw Central (0-2) and got to hoist the Battle of the Nations trophy in victory.  The Braves had a strong second half to secure a 27-6 win over the Warriors at Ray Kinsland Stadium on the brisk evening of Friday, Aug. 24.  

“We worked hard this week to get better as a football team and we did,” Kent Briggs, Braves head coach, noted after the game.  “Before this game, I told them that no matter what happens we’re a better football team now after seeing what mistakes we made last week and working through and making corrections and guys just having a better understanding of how to go out there and play the game.  I knew we’d be an improved team.” 

Coach Briggs said there are a lot of players stepping into starting positions and leadership roles for the first time and are going through a learning process.  “This team will get better and better.  I was really proud of our effort tonight and our team.  I really like this team.  We can be a good football team.”  

RUNNING: Isaiah Evans (#5), Braves senior running back, breaks a tackle during a run in the first half. On the night, Evans ran the ball 19 times for 113 yards and 1 touchdown.

 

The Braves almost doubled Choctaw’s offensive output with 262 total yards to the Warriors’ 144 yards.  Choctaw was hurt all evening long by penalties having 17 for 150 yards compared to Cherokee’s 8 for 53 yards.  

Cherokee got the ball first in this contest and turned it over on downs after a drive that went to the Choctaw 28-yard line and took over half of the first quarter.  The Braves’ defense held the Warriors to a three-and-out on their first possession.  

On Cherokee’s next possession, the Braves got on the board as Cade Mintz, junior wide receiver, caught a 20-yard pass from Bobby Crowe, junior quarterback, with 2:55 left in the first.  The point-after try failed and Cherokee took a 6-0 lead.  

On the night, Crowe completed 8 of 18 passes for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Mintz caught 5 passes for 75 yards and 1 touchdown.  

HIT: Cherokee’s Joaquin Layno (#35) puts a hard hit on Choctaw’s Andrew Sockey.

The Warriors fumbled on their next possession at their own 31-yard line.  Cherokee recovered the fumble.  Several plays later, Crowe connected with Sterling Santa Maria, junior wide receiver, on a 65-yard touchdown bomb to put Cherokee up by two scores early in the second quarter.  Rocky Peebles, senior kicker, made the extra point, and Cherokee led 13-6 which is how the half would end.  

The third quarter was mostly a back-and-forth of offensive struggles with both teams having to punt once and turning the ball over on downs once.  Late in the quarter, Cherokee started a drive in Choctaw territory and steadily marched down the field with a steady running game of Isaiah Evans, senior running back, who ran the ball 19 times for 113 yards and 1 touchdown.  

SCORE: Cade Mintz (#10), Braves junior wide receiver, scores on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Crowe just ahead of Choctaw’s Cameron Jenkins (#11) in the first quarter. On the night, Mintz caught 5 passes for 75 yards and 1 touchdown.

He capped off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run around the left end as time expired in the third quarter.  The point-after failed, and Cherokee led 19-6 going into the final quarter.  

Cherokee’s defense held stiff in the fourth and didn’t allow the Warriors to move the ball at all.  In fact, the Braves’ defense added the final points on the board as Michael Bernhisel, senior cornerback, intercepted a Choctaw pass and returned it 50 yards to the house.  Cherokee converted the two-point conversion to make it 27-6 which is how the game would end.  

The Braves were led defensively by senior linebackers Joaquin Layno and Kyler Hill with 12 tackles each.    

The Braves have a bye week coming up.  They are in action next on Friday, Sept. 7 as they host Asheville School at Ray Kinsland Stadium.  

LEADERS: Former Principal Chief Ed Taylor (left), who was instrumental in starting the Battle of the Nations game along with the late Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Chief Phillip Martin, is shown at the pre-game coin toss with Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed and EBCI Secretary of State Bill Taylor, Chief Taylor’s son.

 

LEADERSHIP: Prior to the coin toss, Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Chief Phyliss J. Anderson, and Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed pause for a group photo.

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