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High School Football:
Chiefs Dominates Second Half For Win at Highland

Friday, September 29, 2000

By Greg Alvord
SJSports Staff Writer

The Cherokee Chiefs showed why their number six ranking was deserved, as the Chiefs scored 17 unanswered points on their way to a 17-7 victory over host Highland High School. This was a meeting between two rivals from the Olympic Conference Patriot Division. The 3-0 Chiefs had outscored their previous two opponents by a 108-7 score and Highland offered a tough test for Cherokee.

The game began with a field long drive for Highland. The Tartans took the opening kickoff and marched down field behind the punishing running of highly recruited Ayo Saba. In Ron Dayne-like fashion, Saba carried four would be tacklers into the endzone as he rumbled in for the touchdown from 3-yards out giving Highland a 7-0 lead. This was the first time this year that Cherokee had been behind and the Chiefs faithful were anxious to see how their team would respond. They did not let their fans down as they responded like a hungry shark drawn to some eats. The Chiefs marched right back with their own drive that brought them to the Highland 9-yard line. On third down, quarterback Kevin Crane zinged a bullet of a pass to sure handed Bobby Deckert who hauled in the ball in Jerry Rice-like fashion to knot the game a 7-7.

The tenacious (14 points in 3 games) Chief defense then came out and set the tone for the remainder of the game. That "D" seemed to lay every defender on the big man Saba. A bone-jarring hit by Matt Bell stopped Saba cold the Tartans went three and out. The Chiefs took over at midfield and behind the bruising blocking of Will Frystak, Joe Elinski, Mike Mazzetti, Mike Sands, Brian Sweeney and Chris Easlick grinded out their second straight touchdown. Cherokee's running sensation Sean "Oh my my" Mayers took the first play 15-yards in Barry Sanderish, studder stop and go fashion. On the third down play, Crane avoided a heavy Highland rush rumbled through the Tartan's defense casting off would be tacklers like Air McNair for the first down at the 25-yard line. On the next play, Mayers burst through the line as if he was shot out of a cannon and broke two tackles to reach pay dirt. With 6:12 left in the half, the now fired up Cherokee sideline sent their wild dog pack defense back out to work. Another three and out resulted for the Tartans and they were forced to punt. The Florida State-like Cherokee gang tackling was led by the heavy hitting Spencer "Give me some lovin" Davis, Pete "Pop" LoPresti and Brian "Oh No" Wojno. Highland tried to mount a drive right before the half by using the pass, but the Chief secondary consisting of Larue Robinson, LoPresti, Blake Letchford and Evan Brown, stuck to the receivers like peanut butter to cotton mouth. The half ended 14-0 in Cherokee's favor.

The second half saw the kind of football that would have made Dick Butkus proud; hard hitting smash mouth defensive warfare. After trading a couple of punts, Cherokee got the ball back with 3:12 left in the third quarter and put together a game sealing drive that made Cherokee famous. The Chief "O" line controlled the trenches in "Saving Private Ryan" fashion as Mayers chewed up yards faster than a chubby man at a buffet. On a key third and two from the Highland thirty, the Chiefs used their trademark running attack and picked up a huge first down. Mayers took the inside handoff and ran behind the Moose Johnson crushing lead block of Matt Mangold for the first down as the determined line surged forward in Riptide-like fashion. Kicker Adam Scanzano drilled a "Scanztastic" 37-yard field goal to make it 17-7 Chiefs. Highland tried to mount a comeback but the Chiefs "D" would have none of that. The defense was hitting Saba like Larry Holmes jab jack hammering Randle "Tex" Cobb's mug. Linebacker Wojno led the attack and fired up the crowd with his ferocious, "De-Cleater" of a stick against Saba. Defensive back Robinson picked off a Highland pass as Cherokee's offense ran out the clock to go 3-0 as this hard hitting contest came to an end.

Photos by Art Redd

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