By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Game of the Week: Johnson, Cherokee Bluff leaving last week's results in the past
08312019 WEST 2.jpg
Johnson High's Xzavior Ramsey runs past the outstretched arm of West Hall's Talil Blackwell Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, during the first half of the Battle of Oakwood at Spartan Field. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Johnson and Cherokee Bluff football teams could not have had much different starts to the 2019 season. 

The Knights — under the guidance of first-year head coach Stan Luttrell — have gotten off to a 2-0 start, most recently beating out arch rival West Hall on a last second field goal on the road. Meanwhile, the Bears are 0-2 following a pair of one-sided losses to Whitefield Academy and Denmark. 

Despite these differences, Luttrell and Cherokee Bluff coach Tommy Jones are preaching a similar message to their teams as the two programs prepare to go up against each other this Friday — games played in the past have absolutely no impact on the future. 

“Part of the growing and maturing process is to be able to win or lose and then be able to move on to the next game,” Luttrell said. “People always talk about never let a team beat you twice. I think that can also be said for winning a big game. Never let a big win get you beat next week because you can’t move on to the next one.”

Jones plans to lead his Bears into the contest with a similar philosophy. 

Though Cherokee Bluff is still looking for its first win in program history, Jones said the players have never lost hope, even those who have been with the team since the beginning. 

“Our guys feel a genuine sense of purpose for being a part of something groundbreaking and helping do something special at Cherokee Bluff,” Jones said. “Really, one of our core values is next play mentality, and I think that comes in handy when it comes to getting over a loss. Learning how to deal with either failure or success is just about winding up and playing the next play.”

That next play will come against a Johnson team that has shown toughness and tenacity so far this season in a pair of close victories. Jones said stopping the split back option attack the Knights employ requires playing consistent responsibility football to prevent giving up chunk plays. Those players dedicated to covering the running backs need to stay with their assignments, as do the players spying the quarterback.

Offensively, Jones said first down will be a priority as the Bears attempt to get into more manageable situations on third and fourth downs. 

“We need to make sure we are able to stay ahead of the chains,” he said.

Luttrell said his focus is more on his team than game planning opponents, especially as the Knights aim to reach their fullest potential by the start of region schedules around a month from now. 

He acknowledged that while Cherokee Bluff is younger and less experienced than Johnson as a whole, the Bears are well-coached and are still a threat to those who would take them lightly.

“I think we’re going to have to play well to win on Friday,” Luttrell said. “It’s pretty much that simple.”

Regardless of outcome, Friday’s game will be a useful measuring stick for both teams. The Knights will get either further confirmation that their recent turnaround is for real, or will be reminded of the work the team still has left to do. The Bears will figure out exactly how far along they are in their “one brick at a time” process that Jones has implemented as he looks to mold the program into a winner. 

But perhaps most importantly, both teams are simply excited for the chance to get back out on the football field.

“We’re just anxious for another opportunity to compete on Friday,” Luttrell said.

Friends to Follow social media