GREENBACK — Region titles have become the norm for the Greenback Cherokees football team as of late and, on Friday night, the Cherokees locked up yet another one.
Led by Bryce Hanley and Jalen McCord, Greenback cruised to a 48-14 victory over Harriman, clinching the Region 2-1A title with one game to play in the regular season.
“Our goal was to win them one game at a time, and if you do that you obviously win the region,” head coach Greg Ryan said. “Any time we can get home field advantage and play at least the first three rounds of the playoffs here, then it is big for us. We’re excited about that and excited about Harriman.”
Greenback wasted no time getting on the board and scored 28 points in the first half. Hanley started the scoring when he connected with Blake Morton for a 77-yard touchdown pass. Hanley connected with Holden Willis in the second quarter for a 29-yard touchdown to make it a 21-0 game.
Hanley was not done, though, and added two more touchdown passes in the second half. He found Cole Riddle for a 68-yard touchdown and Seth Riddle for a 32-yard touchdown. Hanley finished the game with 310 passing yards and four touchdowns.
“Offensively, we try and take what they give us and in the case for tonight, Harriman had eight in the box so the passing game was there,” Ryan said. “All four of our receivers had big games tonight so Bryce did another good job and did what he was supposed to do.”
Entering his second game with the Cherokees since transferring from Alcoa, McCord picked up where he left off. In the first quarter, McCord took a run in from 1 yard out to give Greenback a 14-0 lead. McCord was not finished, though, as he outran the Harriman defense late in the second quarter for a 32-yard touchdown.
McCord caused fits for the Harriman defense throughout the game as the Blue Devil defenders bounced off of him.
“We’re excited for Jalen, and we’ll give him every opportunity in the world to help this football team and he’s doing that,” Ryan said. “His playbook is limited for now, but the times he has touched the ball, he has run the ball really well and he is fitting in with his teammates.”
It was not all positives for the Cherokees, though, as they were hampered with penalties. The Cherokees allowed two first downs in the first half on fourth downs when they jumped offsides. On Greenback’s final drive of the half, it was forced to run out the clock when four penalties backed them up inside their own 10-yard-line.
“We shut it (penalties) down in the second half for the most part but in the first half absolutely (had too many penalties),” Ryan said. “I think we played sloppy in the first half. We had way too many penalties, and we missed too many tackles. We just have to keep working on it in practice and shut it down.”
The Cherokees will finish their season on Oct. 19 when they travel to take on Midway. Kickoff for that game is a 7:30 p.m. The Cherokees will be looking to complete an undefeated season. The season finale against oakdale was cancelled as oakdale forfeited its remaining games after injuries reduced the squad to 11 players.
“We talk about getting better as individuals, which will make us a better team,” Ryan said. “A lot of teams shut down individual work around this time in practice and work more on team stuff but we still do individual stuff to get better. If we play like we’re capable of, it’s going to be a fun season.”