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Sports Archives for 2021-07

2021 River Ridge Knights Season Preview

The River Ridge Knights surprised everyone in 2020. They not only claimed their first victory against Cherokee County opponents, but beat all four they faced. They not only had their first winning season in 10 years, they were undefeated. They not only made the playoffs for only the second time in school history, they made it all the way to the quarterfinals. They finished as the 5th best team in 6A (AJC) and shocked the state by dominating Rome in the Playoffs before falling to Lee County. 

 

River Ridge ran all over Lassiter to open the season and things only picked up from there. They beat Woodstock and Etowah in back to back weeks before charging into the region schedule. They continued to dominate, with only a few games even being competitive. They relied on the legs of Amehre Morrison, the arm of Carson Lathem, and the hands of Jackson Head and Riley Caines. Amehre finished just a few yards under the 2k mark, Carson tossed 17 touchdowns to only 7 Interceptions, and Andrew Bingham proved to be the ultimate utility player by racking up over 700 yards of all-purpose yards. Most of the skill position players will be returning for the Knights, including Morrison, Lathem, Bingham, and Head. The offensive line will have some new faces, but they will be big. Jonathan Faletra (6’5” 270 lbs), Jack Hall (6’5” 285 lbs), and Matthew Yuschak (6’7” 275lbs) are all names to know. 

 

The River Ridge defense was the most complete unit in the county. They didn’t have much star power, but every starter was above average. The leader of the Defense was Cherokee County defensive player of the year, Brain Bradley with 118 tackles, 19 tackles for loss with 9 sacks. The Knights defense proved to be stout enough to stand up to the best offenses and consistent enough to keep teams under 20 points in 7 games.  Bradley will be back this year to lead a defense with plenty of new faces. Dylon Persad, Hunter Coleman, and Brendon Dye will also be returning. 

 

What can fans expect from the Knights? Expectations will be high on Arnold Mill Road and they should be. There’s no reason to expect anything less than a top two finish in the region. The difference this year is that River Ridge will be getting the best from every team this year. They won’t be able to sneak up on anyone this year. They play a fairly easy schedule when compared to the other teams in the county. Lassiter hasn’t had a winning season since 2017, Etowah and Woodstock could provide a challenge, but with both teams being younger and with new coaches, River Ridge will be favored. The region schedule is the biggest challenge, with teams like Creekview, Johns Creek, and Riverwood gunning for a region championship. 

 

River Ridge is close to another undefeated season, but we’ll give them a 9-1 season. The Creekview game is the only game we see where the Knights won’t be heavy favorites. River Ridge will also face off against Woodstock and Etowah who will be hungry for revenge after last year. The Knights didn’t get a chance to square off against Johns Creek, so that’ll be another game to watch. The Knights have another legitimate shot at a region championship. 

River Ridge broke out in 2020, and while expectations may be a little too high in Woodstock, there is still no reason not to see the Knight in the top two of the region. River Ridge will once again be in the conversation for the best team in Cherokee County. 

2021 Etowah Eagles Season Preview

The Etowah Eagles are coming off of one of the worst years in program history. However, things may not be as bad as they seem. For starters, Etowah suffered the most from the COVID-shortened preseason. Coach Matt Kemper and his staff had to teach the Eagles as they worked through the schedule. Each week they improved as they navigated a schedule with state powers such as Milton, North Cobb, Roswell, and Cherokee. They capped off the season with an upset victory over Alpharetta, giving the Eagles something to build on for the offseason. 

 

Etowah was a young team coming into 2020, and will retain lots of starters from last year. The biggest question mark is at Quarterback as the Eagles only managed 700 yards and 1 touchdown of passing offense. Will Curcio will be moving into his junior year and could reclaim the starting job, although Braden Bohannon took most of the snaps in the spring game against Sprayberry and looked like a bonafide starter.  Etowah is also losing Running back Klivert Many who drove the offense for Etowah in 2020. Luis Martinez and Elijah Washington will look to fill that hole in the lineup. Brock Rechsteiner and Blake Bohannon will be sorely missed on both sides of the ball, but Etowah should have enough talent in reserve to replace them in some capacity. 

 

Etowah slowly found their stride on defense, ending the season by holding Alpharetta to 6. The Eagles defense was anchored by a strong linebacking core, which will have to be replaced this year. They will be returning Frank Mosley IV, Jaiden Maddox, Will Pailthorpe, and Alex Kirby to bolster the young defense. The biggest losses, besides Brock Rechsteiner, are Austin Skinner and Jared Weitkamp. Etowah will have to find their stride quickly as they stare down another loaded schedule in 2021. 

 

So what should fans expect from the 2021 Eagles? The Eagles will face two of the best 6A teams in the state with Creekview and River Ridge. Things don’t get any easier with games against North Forsyth and North Cobb before jumping into the region schedule. The good news is that since the Eagles are in a region with only 6 teams, they can find a playoff spot with just a couple of wins in the region. 

 

Etowah seems to be a 4-6 team to us. It’s hard to see them beating Milton, but we think they could upset Roswell or Cherokee. They should be competitive again this year with Woodstock and Alpharetta to round out the region. While the out of region schedule is tough, we see them picking up a game or two there. Etowah is a fringe playoff team depending on their performances late in the season. 

 

Things on Eagle Drive are looking up. Coach Kemper gets a full offseason and preseason to work with his team, Braden Bohannon looked like a quality QB in the spring game, and they have plenty of returning talent around him. The defense will have to grow as they go but have the experience they need in each position level. There will be plenty of quality football to watch on Eagle Mountain this season. 

2021 Creekview Grizzlies Season Preview

The Creekview Grizzlies are the second youngest program in Cherokee County, yet arguably have had the most success. Through the 15 seasons of Grizzly Football, they have claimed a 104-55 record with 8 playoff appearances. With all of that success, expectations are higher in Macedonia than anywhere else in Cherokee County. The 2020 campaign was really an above average year for the Grizzlies, but with losses to Cherokee and River Ridge, no one really seemed to notice. The season ended with a surprising 34-14 loss to Sprayberry in the first round of the playoffs. The defense carried the Grizzlies last year, allowing only 12.5 points per game. The offense only averaged 18.9 points per game, the fewest points scored since 2010 when Creekview had their worst season in program history, going 3-7. 

 

Creekview will come into 2021 with plenty of new faces on both sides of the ball. The Grizzlies lost crucial offensive pieces like Quarterback Brody Rhodes, Wide Receivers Dawson Curry and Andrew Cloy, as well as pieces such as Chase Wright and Hayden Thompson. Creekview has two solid options to replace Rhodes, with Senior Mason Hicks and Freshman Austin Guest. Creekview is known for their offensive line, and the 2021 crew will have to replace four starters from last year. The Grizzlies will be returning key players like Runningbacks Tyler Stevens and AJ Vaccaro to round out the 2021 offense. 

 

Creekview is coming off of one of the best defensive years in Cherokee County history, largely due to a relentless pass rush. Creekview had 45 team sacks last year in only 10 games. Unfortunately for the 2021 Grizzlies, only 1 player who recorded a sack last year (DE Isaac Hubert with 8.0) will be back. Creekview will also be returning Taylor Cox-Young and Cale Williams. Creekview won’t lack talent but will lack experience. However, never overlook a Trevor Williams coached defense. 

 

So what should fans expect from the 2021 Grizzlies? Creekview is the only team in the county that will have to find a new QB. Creekview is also replacing more starters than any other team in Cherokee County. That leaves a lot of question marks, but there are a few things we do know. Creekview has a tradition of winning, and we don’t see that changing. Creekview also has one of the best youth programs in the area, so just because we don’t know their names yet, there’s no reason to believe the Grizzlies won’t have enough talent to compete.

 

We see Creekview as a 7-3 team with a top two finish in the region. It’s hard to give Creekview an edge over River Ridge in the region, but that game is as close to a toss-up as it gets. Creekview will also be facing three 7A teams in the first three games (Etowah, Woodstock, Cherokee) which is a tough stretch to get through unscathed. We expect Creekview to host yet another playoff game this year, the question is whether they will be a region champion or runner-up. History also backs up this prediction, as the Grizzlies have an all-time 39-11 record against their 10 scheduled opponents. That includes a 9-0 record against Cambridge, a 10-3 record against Sequoyah and a 8-1 record against River Ridge. 

 

Creekview is in a transition period of talent, but has enough continuity in returning players and coaching to keep them in the top of the county. They are always a tough out and seem to be competitive in the few losses they do have. Fans in Macedonia have plenty to be excited about.

2021 Cherokee Warriors Season Preview

The Cherokee Warriors have solidified themselves as the perennial power of Cherokee County with an 8-2 record against inter-county teams since 2018. They also received statewide recognition last year with wins against Carver, Rome, and of course, Cartersville. The Warriors biggest achilles heel has been late season region games. The Warriors have missed a top-two spot in the region by one game in each of the last three years. Because of this the Warriors have only one playoff win to go with the 20-10 record they have racked up since 2018. 

 

Cherokee will enter the 2021 campaign with the core pieces still intact. AJ Swann is coming off of a 2500 yard season with 23 Touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. He also picked up his 4th star and is now ranked as the 13th best Pro-Style Quarterback according to Rivals.com. Adarrius Harshaw has been the target of choice for Swann. He racked up 872 yards on 53 catches with 7 Touchdowns to boot. Harshaw has also received national recognition, now being a 3-star Wide Receiver according to 247sports.com and a 4-star receiver according to ESPN. Cherokee will also enjoy the addition of WR Aidan Moore from Sequoyah, who should add a solid option as a second receiver opposite of Harshaw. Ryan Chandley II and Ben Rice will be responsible for anchoring a Cherokee offensive line that lost Nason Simmons, Derrick Battle, and Steve Hardison. 

 

On defense, The Warriors will have much more talent to replace. With the loss of Braesen Parker, Riley Lyons, and Austin Tremble, Cherokee will have to replace three first-team All County starters. The good news is that Toby Thompson, Tanner Dollyhigh, as well as Chase and Tyler Goddard, will be returning. The biggest question for the defense is who will be patrolling the secondary, especially in a region with QB talent like Devin Farrell and Robbie Roper to contend with. 

 

So what should fans expect from the 2021 Warriors? It’s no secret Cherokee will once again be one of the best teams in Cherokee County, the question is what they can do outside of what they have already accomplished. Cherokee will face all of the same opponents from the 2020 season except for Carver, who will be replaced by Mays in the Corky Kell. Unfortunately for the Warriors, this season will require a much more difficult travel schedule, with road games against Rome, Cartersville, and Milton. The good news is that they will play the majority of their region schedule at Tommy Baker Field. The key for Cherokee will be to convert some of those early season successes to the latter half of the season. 

 

We see Cherokee as an 8-2 team with a top two finish in the region. Milton still seems the easy favorite to win the region, with Roswell and Cherokee battling for second. We still see Cherokee winning in the Corky Kell and against Rome. However, the Cartersville game is close to a toss up. Since the Canes will have home-field advantage, we’ll give the theoretical edge to them. 

 

The time for Cherokee to solidify themselves as a state power with a couple of playoff wins is now. They have all the talent they need, they just need to find their place in the playoffs and pull out a win. 

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