By COLLIN BROOKS
EDITORS NOTE: Homecoming has been rescheduled for Oct. 7 during the Trailblazers contest against Morristown East.
Daniel Boone will have the confidence of a win under their belt, while their opponent will be entering their first game of the season when Boone host Cherokee on Friday night at 7 p.m.
However, there is plenty for Cherokee to play for when they visit Daniel Boone to open their regular season.
The Chiefs will be playing their first contest since they lost their rising junior quarterback to an injury in their final spring scrimmage of the season. J.T. Brooks suffered a spinal injury that has left him in a wheel chair and has left his team with heavy hearts.
“I think there will be (a certain level of emotion) that my guys play with, but this is a pretty level headed group,” Cherokee first-year coach Cody Baugh said.
There was some definite emotion surrounding the team on Monday though as they watched a a motivational video that Brooks had sent the team.Baugh admitted that the silence mixed with the sniffles in the room were a bit overwhelming.
“I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room, but it was definitely motivating for the guys.”
But the Blazers are expecting a fully charged Chiefs team when the two take the field.
“We know that they are going to be extremely psyched,” Daniel Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “We are going to have to play well on both sides of the line of scrimmage and tackle extremely well.”
The Boone faithful will be clad in special shirts that recognize Brooks and all the money raised will go to Brooks’ foundation.
The daunting task of filling in for the former QB will go to freshman Collin Trent. The rising freshman is an athletic and mobile kid, who would have seen time on the field as a running back, wide receiver, kick returner or safety if he wasn’t the signal caller. But Baugh admits that when it boils down, he is still a freshman.
“There is definitely growing pains with a freshman quarterback,” said Baugh who worked with Greeneville quarterback Cade Ballard last year as a freshman. “There are things that freshman see and do that are different than what a senior or junior does.”
He will have plenty of skill players to hand the ball too, including a pair of brothers in Jeremiah and Isiah Bragg. Jeremiah is the elder of the two, entering his senior season and he will be handed the ball plenty of times in the backfield. The younger Bragg is the speeder of the bunch but he isn’t the only weapon that Cherokee will bring. Returning wide receiver River Bailey provides a set of reliable hands for his firshman QB and Fletcher Hickman — who has appeared three straight years at the TSSAA Track & Field State Championship in the 300 meters — has the burners to be a threat. The other two WRs for Cherokee will be Trey Courtney and Ryan Bledsoe.
The Trailblazers have some weapons of their own, which was evident by their 26-6 win over Sullivan South last Thursday. During that game the Blazers were led by senior wideout Mouin Tannous, who delivered three touchdowns before halftime and four catches for 113 yards.
Boone quarterback Noah Shelton peeked the interest of a lot of people with his peformance against Sullivan South, including Baugh as he noted how the rising junior can hurt you with his legs or his arm.
Shelton finished that contest with over 100 yards on the ground and through the air in his starting debut.
Jenkins said that having that game under their belt could be helpful for the Blazers.
“With it being our second game we think that experience we gained in the first game will help,” Jenkins said.
And with it being Baugh and Cheokee’s first game together, the Cherokee coach admits that nerves will probably follow him.
“Playing football I never once had butterflies, because I always felt in control,” Baugh said. “But once Friday night hits, it’s hard because I teach them during the week, but it is up to them to get it done on Fridays and that is what makes you nervous as a coach.”