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High school football: No. 9 Cherokee Bluff focused on next challenge and chance to secure playoff berth
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Cherokee Bluff's Shad Dabney takes down Gilmer County running back Kobe Stonecipher Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, during the first half of their game at Cherokee Bluff High - photo by Scott Rogers

Coach Tommy Jones is too consumed with building a football program at Cherokee Bluff — built to be a contender for many years to come — to worry about playoff scenarios with three games remaining in the regular season.

Still, there’s no getting around that things look good for the Bears (7-0, 3-0 Region 7-3A), despite not having a playoff spot secured, even though other media sources are claiming Cherokee Bluff is already a postseason lock.

Jones thinks there’s still a scenario on the table where there could be a three-way tie for third place and only room for two to state.

However, he can put all that to bed with a win Friday against Dawson County (4-3, 3-0) in Dawsonville. That would solidify a trip to the postseason in only Year 3 for the new school in Flowery Branch.

“Our focus all along has been the next game,” said Jones, whose Bears have gone over 40 points in 5 of 7 games this season. “We want to get to the point where they’re all big games.”

So far, defense has been one of the staples for Cherokee Bluff. The Bears have pitched a shutout three times this season and held the opposition to single digits in 6 of 7 games.

Dawson County will certainly pose the biggest challenge to Cherokee Bluff’s defense in 2020. Since losing three straight to open the season in non-region play, the Tigers have averaged 39 points per game. The Tigers are led by junior quarterback Zach Holtzclaw, who has thrown for 1,839 yards and 20 touchdowns and just four picks.

With a win, Cherokee Bluff could potentially play for the region championship on Nov. 13 against North Hall (5-3, 4-0) in Flowery Branch.

However, Jones isn’t going to get carried away with so much on the line. He said preparing for Dawson County is more than enough work for one week.

After that, he’ll start thinking about playing North Hall.

Either way, there’s no debating that Region 7-3A is very talented at the top with a region championship that could still go to any of the three frontrunners.

“There’s no doubting we have a really tough portion of our schedule ahead of us, but we’re thankful to be in this position,” Jones said. 

Friday's game

Gainesville vs. West Forsyth 

Flowery Branch vs. Madison County 

Johnson vs. Greenbrier 

Cherokee Bluff vs. Dawson County 

West Hall vs. Gilmer

Regional events