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High School Football:
Cherokee Gets By Shawnee and Remain Undefeated

Friday, October 20, 2000

By Greg Alvord
SJSports Staff Writer

Wheeew! That's the one word that can best describe the battle that was waged between cross town rivals Shawnee Renegades and Cherokee Chiefs. This exciting game of the year match up lived up to its billing as 7,000 fans were treated to the kind of football that makes your hair stand on end on the back of your neck. The Hatfield's and McCoy's have nothing on these two long time enemies as the Renegades and Chiefs continued their feud on the gridiron. In the end, it was Cherokee claiming a dynamic 21-20 victory.

The first quarter saw both teams attacking each other like a couple of championship boxers. Cherokee would create the first break of the game as Brian Wojno "Layith the smackith" down with a bone crushing hit on the Shawnee ball carrier. Pete LoPresti recovered the fumble for Cherokee on the Renegades 37-yard line. The Chiefs offense took over and in F.S.U. Seminole fashion, quarterback Kevin Crane hit a streaking Louie Louie Russo with a dart to the Shawnee five. As the second quarter began, Cherokee would draw first blood. Aided by a freight train crushing lead block by John Haller, Sean Mayers danced into the end zone for a 7-0 Cherokee lead.

Shawnee would drive down and attempt a 37-yard field goal on the next possession, but this part of the Renegades team would let them down and ultimately haunt them for the entire game. The field goal try was no good and the Chiefs still held the seven point lead. Shawnee would reach pay dirt right before halftime. Facing a fourth and six from the Chiefs 27-yard line, quarterback Bill Kurtz hit a wide open Keith Smith down the middle of the field for the touchdown. Things would get interesting from here. Remembering their kicking exploits, Shawnee sent seven players wide left and attempted the old kick-a-ruskie 2-point conversion play. The tough Chief defense snuffed out these shenanigans and stopped the Renegades play.

The second half began in grand fashion for Cherokee. Catching the Shawnee defense trying to switch into position, linemen Mike Sands and Brian Sweeney opened up a canyon sized hole for Mayers. Mayers, who's running style leaves many fans shaking their heads in amazement while uttering "Oh, my, my"; supplied the finishing touch. Bursting through the hole like a shooting star, Mayers dazzled the fans with a 66-yard Marshall Faulk-like scamper that gave Cherokee a 14-6 lead. The fourth quarter would prove to be one that was not meant for the faint of heart. Shawnee would begin this back and forth slug out by scoring from 11-yards out. Adam Franck bullied his way in on an inside trap, however Shawnee's point after woos would bite them again. Calling a slow sweep to the right, the Shawnee runner pulled up to pass to an open Franck but the magical mist of Cherokee caused the ball to slip out of the receivers grasp to make the score 14-12 in favor of the Chiefs.

The teams would trade punts with Shawnee pinning Cherokee down to their own 3-yard line. Cherokee would then fumble the ball and Shawnee recovered on the 2-yard line. A couple of plays later, Franck would bull into the end zone and do it again for the 2-point conversion and give the Renegades a stunning 20-14 advantage. The undefeated Chiefs now faced two options; hide in a hole or come back in true championship character. The latter proved to be the case as the packed house was going nuts as the Chiefs would take two plays to regain the lead.

With the devastation of a Tyson left-right combo, Mayers would take the first play 40-yards in explosive fashion to the Shawnee 36. Less than a minute after losing the lead, the Chiefs would regain it. Crane would hit Bobby Deckert on a beautiful post route for what would be the game winning score. Adam Scanzano would coolly nail the point after and the capacity crowd was going wild. Shawnee still had 2 minutes left in the game to take the lead. The Renegades marched to the Chiefs 15-yard line and faced a fourth and long. They tried to play their luck with a game winning field goal attempt. As was their case the whole game, their kicking game would not carry the Renegades to victory. The field goal never got any height and was no good. An exuberant Cherokee ran out the clock and stayed undefeated on the season in a highly entertaining football game.

Photos by Forrest Robleto

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