Cherokee at North Forsyth
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Raider Valley in Coal Mountain.
Records, rankings: Cherokee is 1-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 5-AAAAAA and unranked; North is 0-0, 0-0 and unranked.
Series history: North leads 3-2.
Last meeting: Cherokee won 42-14 in 2014.
What to know: Cherokee has turned things around behind fourth-year head coach Josh Shaw. The Warriors went 1-9 in his first season in 2012 but were 7-4 last season and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2007. A big reason was Brittain Brown, the Warriors’ senior running back who is committed to Duke. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is the No. 44-ranked Class of 2016 prospect in Georgia, according to 247Sports.com, and he played like it last week with 263 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries in Cherokee’s 51-23 victory against Chattahoochee. But Brown didn’t have to do it all for Cherokee. First-year starting quarterback Nolan Donley went 18 of 27 for 204 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with seven different receivers.
North is coming off one of its now-regular postseason 1-9 drop-offs (see 2002, 2006, 2011), but each time the Raiders have returned to the playoffs within the next one or two years. Here begins the first, and it’s hard to get a read yet on how much progress North is capable of making this season, but there were encouraging signs from the Raiders’ scrimmage against Forsyth Central two weeks ago. Running back Simon Holcomb was dangerous. So was defensive back Jordan Palms. Plus, North has a veteran offensive line, led by senior Jackson Bardall.