By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
(Note: Statistics were not provided for this game. All of the yardages and times were recorded by this reporter at the game.)
The Cherokee Braves (3-2) scored 30 points in the first quarter and just kept going as they defeated the Gladiator Sports Academy (0-3) 57-0 on Homecoming Night at Ray Kinsland Stadium on Friday, Sept. 21.
“We came out and knew we were a better football team than they were, and the key thing was to come out focused,” said Kent Briggs, Braves head coach. “It was all about us getting better as a team. Our goal tonight was to come out and execute and do the things that you have to do to win a football game.”
Cherokee hosts rival Swain County on Friday, Sept. 28. “The real season starts now. We’ve got six straight conference games, and all of them are going to be tough. It starts with a big one next week at Swain,” said Coach Briggs. “We’ve watched some film on them already. They are very hard-nosed. Their record doesn’t indicate what kind of team they are – they can fight. We are also a little banged up so guys are going to have to step up and do the things they’ve got to do to replace guys who are still not here yet. So, we’ve just got to have a great week of practice and we’ve got to go out there and play hard.”
The Braves set the tone in Friday’s game early as Sterling Santa Maria, junior linebacker, intercepted a Gladiators pass on the second play of the game. Several possessions later, Santa Maria caught a touchdown pass from Bobby Crowe midway through the first quarter that started a scoring spree for the Braves.
Isaiah Evans, Braves senior running back, ran for two touchdowns within two minutes. Facing a fourth and long from their own one yard line, the Gladiators took a knee in the end zone for a safety with 15 seconds left in the first. Then, with 1.6 seconds left, Crowe connected with Cade Mintz, junior wide receiver, on a 23-yard touchdown pass to round out the first quarter scoring.
Rocky Peebles, Braves senior kicker, hit all four point-after kicks and Cherokee led 30-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Braves kept it going in the second as Josiah Lossiah, senior wide receiver, caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Alex Ben, senior quarterback at the 8:45 mark. Three minutes later, Anthony Allison, sophomore running back, ran six yards for a score. Peebles added both extra points and the Braves took a 44-0 lead into the locker room.
Due to the NCHSAA mercy rule, the clock ran continuously for the entire second half. Allison scored on a 36-yard touchdown in the third, and Darius Lambert, senior kicker, added the point after to make it 51-0 at the 9:56 mark. Jonathan Frady, sophomore, scored the last touchdown of the night on a 5-yard run in the fourth. Cherokee did not attempt the extra point and the game ended at 57-0.