Rather, Cherokee’s Josh Shaw and Woodstock’s Brent Budde are thinking about the Region 5AAAAAA implications.
“It is a county opponent. and you always want to compete well with the teams in the county, but as far as we are concerned, it’s just another region opponent,” Shaw said.
Budde’s feeling was
“It isn’t much of a rivalry,” he said. “But it is an in-county school, and that always makes it closer to that. It’s really big for the region. That’s what we have been talking to the kids about all week. You get to put another team behind you in the standings.”
Cherokee (2-3, 0-2) opened the season with dominating wins over Creekview and Sequoyah, but it stumbled against opponents from Class AAAAAA — first, losing a non-region game against North Forsyth, and then dropping games to Lassiter and Walton to open region play.
While being 0-2 certainly isn’t the start the Warriors wanted in the region, the drought goes a bit further back.
“We haven’t won a region game since I’ve been here,” said the second-year Cherokee coach. “Our goal is to try to get the first one.”
In fact, the Warriors haven’t won a region game since Nov. 5, 2010, when they defeated Marietta — a span of 15 straight region losses.
Woodstock (2-3, 1-1) has had a bit more success in recent history, but it was caught last year in a three-way tie for the fourth spot out of the region and was left out of a berth into the state playoffs.
Budde wants to avoid that situation and the tiebreakers that go along with it.
“This would break a three-way tie between and Lassiter and Cherokee,” Budde said.
Tonight’s game has the potential to be quite high-scoring. With explosive playmakers on both sides of the ball, the teams could easily combine for more than 60 points. For this reason, Shaw feels the challenge will be left to the defenses.
“I think it is going to come down to which defense stops the other team’s offense,” he said. “That will probably be the difference in the game.”
Budde looks to the standout players on the defense for both teams and sees them as having the potential to change the game.
“Who knows, both defenses could step up and corral the offenses and it could be a lower scoring game,” Budde said. “You never really know.”
Both quarterbacks, Cherokee’s Spencer Ashley and Woodstock’s Justin Agner, have been putting up solid numbers. The top running backs, the Warriors’ Blake Johnston and Wolverines’ Donovan Brand, are averaging more than 5 yards per carry.
“I hope it doesn’t turn into a shootout, but based on both offenses this season, I guess it could be billed as that,” Shaw said.
Woodstock’s Alex Motsinger, who was injured during the first series last week against Lassiter, was able to practice all week and is expected to start.
Likewise, Shaw said that his team is at full strength after shaking off some bruises dealt by Walton a week ago.
“We are ready to accept the challenge that (tonight) presents to us and go out there and execute to the best of our ability,” Budde said.