ROGERSVILLE - Cherokee took two weeks of football frustration out on Seymour Friday night, 54-6.The Chiefs had dropped consecutive games to 6A schools. A last-minute, 24-20 loss to Jefferson County, and a 52-20 drubbing to Sevier County led to two long bus rides home.
"Good ballgame, I'll tell you what. We really had a good time," said Cherokee coach Mike Sivert."I told them on Friday night after that bus trip back that we've got to play hard from the very onset. We dedicated ourselves to doing that and called on each other all week simple, little words, 'Let's Win.'
"I'm sure they thought I was half-crazy or something after that game," Sivert said. "But we had to lift ourselves up."
It didn't take long. A minute and a half into Friday's game, Ty Ryans found Ethan Hagood for a 47-yard touchdown pass. One minute later - after recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff - the Chiefs scored again, this time an eight-yard run by ole Russell Ryan's pass to Hunter Henegar made it 14-0.
"This bunch is surprising. They're quiet and reserved and I really didn't read 'em," Sivert said. "But I promise you 30 seconds in I was reading 'em. They were on-target and they got the business done."Cherokee's defense forced a three-and-out on Seymour's next possession. On the first play from scrimmage, Ryans connected with Tanner Trent on a 45-yard touchdown pass.
"You don't have to do anything but produce on that field. They had total ball game. I was proud of them all the way around," Sivert said.
Another squib kick by Cody Puckett precipitated another Seymour fumble. Four plays later, Ryans hit Hagood for a 34-yard touchdown pass play.
A six-play drive after another Eagles fumble resulted in a three-yard touchdown run by Evan McCracken and a 34-0 lead with 2:40 left in the first quarter.
Seymour finally got on the board on a 10-yard pass play on its next possession, but Cherokee answered with a five-yard touchdown run by Matt Davis that gave the Chiefs a 41-6 lead with 5:09 left in the half.
Cole Russell's two-yard touchdown run right before halftime extended Cherokee's lead to 47-6."It was an outstanding night, both sides of the ball. We were relentless. This bunch has some talented players and we negated that on defense and kept going at them on offense and just made big things happen," Sivert said.
Each team scored a touchdown in the second half, which ticked away nonstop with the lead over 35 points and the slaughter fule in effect.
Cherokee rolled up 528 total yards and 23 first downs to Seymour's 186 and six, respectively. The Chiefs defense held Seymour to 15 rushing yards on 13 attempts.
Russell led Cherokee with 101 yards rushing. Ryans added 65 yards and Evan McCracken 33. Ryans was 12 of 20 passing with 317 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
"I thought Ty could've thrown for another 300 yards," Sivert said. "But our running backs stepped in and proved again that they can run the ball, too. That's great. It's a total picture. It's what we practice.
"Everybody that filled in did well. It gets a little late in the season and you get a little bruised up. These young men came on the field and filled in just as tough and didn't miss a step," Sivert said.
"I just love them all. They took a couple hits on the chin and psychologically it hurt us all. They really hurt after that Jeff County game. It was so close and they fought so hard for so long. But we've overcome it. It's great to be back at home," he said.
Cherokee (5-4, 3-3) hosts Cocke County (3-6, 1-5) Friday to close the regular season with playoff hopes still alive.
"We're 4-0 at home and have another big game next week with Newport, a big important conference ball game," Sivert said.
"We keep playing hard and intense like we are, it's going to be fun every week. It's that time of year. We've got a lot more work to do. We're looking forward to it."
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