Cherokee didn't lose a game last season, until the semifinals of the Class C state playoffs. Eliminated by runner-up Forgan, the Chiefs are looking for a way to get over that hump this year.
Defense played a key role in Bryce Schanbacher's scheme a season ago. The Chiefs held opponents scoreless four times last year, all in the second half of the season. The opponents that did score only managed 30 combined points. After shutting out two opponents in the playoffs, Cherokee fell to Forgan in the semifinals.
“That's our motivating factor,” Schanbacher said. “The kids we got coming back carry that chip on their shoulder.”
Tanner Ducotey and Alex Castro are senior linebackers and Schanbacher said they are the leaders on defense and in the preseason went a long way to help the Chiefs' defense.
Tanner Bowman, a junior, will take the reins of the offense that features three regular running backs. Ducotey, Castro and Austin Guffy will run the ball out of a variety of different packages.
A Week 2 district matchup with Bluejacket could have a lot to say about playoff seeding.
Coach Ronnie Simmons is looking to Austin Stoner for leadership this season at Bluejacket. The senior played more receiver than any other position last year, but should be listed as an athlete because of his wide range of skills. This season, Stoner will be taking snaps for the Chieftains.
Simmons said the key to their success this season will be how well Stoner leads the offense. Dillon Collins and Pete McVay are two other seniors who should be very helpful to the Chieftains' success.
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