Warriors expected to trample Cherokee


Michael Smith

A look at the setup of Cherokee’s defense, showing a run prevention front.

Michael Smith, Sports editor

On Friday, August 19, NC will begin the 2016 season by reigniting its rivalry with the Cherokee Warriors. Both teams enter the game after dominant preseason scrimmages with both starting offenses scoring over thirty points in the first quarter and the NC starting defense shutting out the visiting East Paulding Raiders.

Both teams share more than nicknames: each defense predicates pass rush, eliminating deep passes, and trusting their athletes to cover and tackle quick passes. Each offense also relies on up tempo spread offenses, the zone running game, and RPOs, a play type quickly becoming a mainstay at all levels of football.

In 2015, Cherokee started the season 4-1 before dropping the next five games and missing out on the playoffs. In all four wins, Cherokee scored over 30 points, going over 50 twice. When the Cherokee offense starts rolling, it rarely stops, but the team relies heavily on its offensive production. In Cherokee’s six losses last season, it never scored more than 21 points.

Systematically, Cherokee utilizes one and two back personnel, spreading the defense out to free up running space inside and toss the ball over aggressive linebackers. When throwing the ball, Cherokee trusts senior quarterback Nolan Donley to make quick, accurate throws, often inside of ten yards, allowing Cherokee receivers to make defenders miss and gain yards after the catch. Cherokee frequently employs zone runs to pick up yards when defenses bail out to defend the Warriors lethal passing game.

On defense, Cherokee relies almost exclusively on an older variation of cover 4, expecting both corners and both safeties to bail out at the snap and clamp down on deep routes. During the two minute drill, Cherokee inserts an extra defensive back to defend the deep middle of the field. When blitzing, Cherokee commonly brings two linebackers from opposite sides in hope of confusing NC’s linemen and reaching the quarterback unblocked.

Expect Cherokee to vary its defense more with the beginning of the regular season and attempt to bait senior NC quarterback Will Lovett into throwing an interception or two on attempted short passes. Prepare for both Warrior’s to bring explosive offenses to the game, but NC carries a significant talent and schematic advantage.


The Chant’s prediction: NC: 42, Cherokee: 28.