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Chestatee prepared for challenging football season opener against Cherokee Bluff
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Chestatee quarterback Christian Charles is sacked by Flowery Branch's Zion Moon and Grant Lackey, left, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, during the first half of the game at War Eagle Stadium. - photo by Scott Rogers

With all the excitement that came with the start of the 2020 season on September 4, Chestatee was quietly waiting in the wings for its chance to run through the banner to open the regular season.

Now, it’s the War Eagles’ turn to share in the same bliss as everyone else, following an offseason where nobody knew for sure if football was in the cards this year.

Turns out, it’s business as usual with some accommodations for crowd control.

Following a Week 1 bye, Chestatee gets to open the season against a talented Cherokee Bluff (1-0) program that opened with a 44-0 win against Johnson last week.

Kickoff Friday is set for 7:30 p.m. at War Eagles Stadium in Gainesville.

Seating is limited due to precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s just a blessing to be able to play and be out there on the field with my teammates,” said War Eagles senior quarterback Christian Charles, who is coming off back-to back 3,000-yard seasons.

Chestatee is not the only school in Hall County opening the season a week later than most. East Hall also had a first-week bye, while Lakeview Academy cancelled it’s opener due to two of its coaches experiencing symptoms last week of the coronavirus but later tested negative.

All three football programs will have an opener this week.

For Chestatee, the challenge is simple: try to slow down a Bears offense that posted six first-half touchdowns against the Knights. Cherokee Bluff’s defense is also legit, having allowed just 32 yards in Week 1.

“Cherokee Bluff is a really good football team” Chestatee coach Shaun Conley said. “I’ve known coach Tommy Jones a long time and he does a phenomenal job.

“They’re certainly coming off a big win.”

The War Eagles’ offense certainly has a little firepower of their own, namely Charles who said Thursday that he’s narrowed his recruiting list to Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Duke and Arkansas State.

Chestatee’s main task this season is replacing 1,200-yard receiver Seth Pressley, who graduated in 2020. Charles said the War Eagles have a talented group of receivers who are all eager to show their talent, including Wyatt Goode, Christian Jarrard and Hayden Gowin.

“Chestatee is highly explosive and can score from anywhere on the field,” Cherokee Bluff coach Tommy Jones said.

“Hopefully, we have five or six receivers who can all have several catches every week,” said Conley.

At Cherokee Bluff, it’s offense is explosive and can strike in myriad of ways.

Bears quarterback Sebastian Irons, a junior, led all six touchdown drives, while senior and Kansas University commit Shad Dabney also runs the same position occasionally out of the wildcat package.

In the running game, juniors Charles Tolbert and Jayquan Smith also had rushing scores in Cherokee Bluff’s opener.

“Cherokee Bluff has an offense where it can hurt you instantly,” Conley added.

Friday’s games

Chestatee vs. Cherokee Bluff

West Hall vs. East Hall

Flowery Branch at Dawson County

North Hall at Stephens County

Lakeview Academy at Darlington

BYE: Gainesville, Johnson

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