Cherokee finished its season with a win Friday night, taking down Lassiter 38-10 in the final game of the regular season.
“Obviously, Cherokee is a really good team,” Lassiter coach Sean Thom said. “We knew they had some guys that were going to be able to do some good things. We just couldn’t get pressure on the quarterback, and they had time to run some double moves.”
As the No. 4 seed from Region 4AAAAAAA, Cherokee (7-3, 3-2) will travel to Region 2AAAAAAA Westlake for the first round of the state playoffs.
“We really just wanted to be able to clean some things up on our end before we hit the playoffs,” Cherokee coach Josh Shaw said.
After Ty Swanson intercepted a pass, Cherokee quarterback A.J. Swann found Patrick Dahlen for 34 yards and a 7-0 lead on the first play of the ensuing drive. An eight-play, 80-yard drive ended in a 14-0 lead when Keith Adams Jr. scored from 3 yards.
“It’s very similar to what’s happened all year,” Thom said. “We started strong defensively, got off the field right away, and then, on the second play, we throw an interception. Give it right back to them and then they punch it in.”
Adams scored his second touchdown in the second quarter, finding the end zone on an 11-yard run to give Cherokee a three-possession lead. Luis Mijangos added a field goal as time expired in the half, capping a 10-play, 71-yard drive and sending Cherokee to the locker room up 24-0.
Lassiter punted on the opening drive of the second half and Swann found Adarrius Harshaw for a 29-yard score. The Trojans then put together a 16-play, 93-yard drive that ended with a field goal.
Adams responded with a 44-yard touchdown, his third of the day, on Cherokee’s next possession. With 2 minutes left, Lassiter found the end zone.
“Shai Valencia, he did some good things, had a couple conversions,” Thom said. “He ended up scoring on a 21-yarder. Brayden (Lind) settled down a little bit. We went with some up-tempo stuff, and he hit some guys.”
For Thom and Lassiter, next season has already started.
“My 2020 season starts today,” Thom said. “I put this game to bed. It’s already graded, got everything done. I think we had enough good that we had so we can grow on it, and now we just need to find ways to get better.”
Devin Ellison did not find the end zone, but he still put together a big day for Cherokee, catching eight passes for 137 yards. Swann finished the game 15-of-21 for 255 yards, while Adams ended the game with 165 rushing yards on 18 carries.
Adams will have an opportunity to break 1,000 yards for the season in the playoffs against a dangerous Westlake team.
“They have a tremendous amount of athletes,” Shaw said of the Lions. “It’s going to be a really good football team. They’re going to be well-coached. They like to go deep, so our secondary is going to be tested. They’re really good defensively. Their D-line is really good, so we’re going to be challenged up front. Any game this time of year is going to be won and lost in the trenches.”