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FOOTBALL PREVIEW: What to expect from the Cherokee Bluff vs Dawson County matchup
Football pic 5, 11.8.17
The Dawson County Tigers take the field in the region championship game at Greater Atlanta Christian. - photo by Kolton Brumbelow

The Cherokee Bluff Bears will travel to Dawson County High School on Friday, Nov. 6 for what will very likely be a game that decides the Region 7-3A champion. Both schools are undefeated in region play and could come out of this game just a win away from securing the region title. 

Cherokee Bluff vs Dawson County 

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6 at Dawson County High School 

Records, rankings: Cherokee Bluff is 7-0 (3-0 in region play) and ranked #22 in Class 3A by Maxpreps; Dawson County is 4-3 (3-0 in region play) and ranked #18 in Class 3A by Maxpreps. 

Series history: Dawson County leads the series 2-0 all-time.

Last meeting: Dawson County over Cherokee Bluff 52-9 on Nov. 1, 2019. 

What to know: It will be a battle of who can be more dominant: the Tigers offense or the Bears defense. The Tigers offense has been red hot. Their 38 points scored in last week’s game against West Hall is the third lowest amount that they have scored in a game this season. If you remove the Tigers first game of the season where they only scored seven points, their offense averages 41 points per game. Zach Holtzclaw has completed passes to 11 different receivers this season and has scored 24 touchdowns through the air and on the ground. Holtzclaw will be without one of his favorite targets, Jaden Gibson, again this week, who is dealing with a hip injury. However, other leading receivers Dakohta Sonnichsen and Tyler Lane picked up the workload last week and expect to do the same again this week.

For just as hot as the Tigers have been on offense, the Bears have been on defense. Opposing offenses have only scored 33 points against Cherokee Bluff all season. The Bears defense has sacked opposing quarterbacks 17 times, with 11 of those coming from three senior defenders: Dakota Collins, Garrett Davis and Eli Little. On the offensive side, the Bears only average 10 passing attempts per game with a heavy run attack led by Jayquan Smith and Charles Tolbert. The Bears aren’t shy about running the scoreboard up against their opponents either: though the defense has only allowed 33 points, the offense has still scored 284 points this season. That’s 30 more points than the Tigers scored. 

Keys to the game: Dawson County: Physicality. If the Tigers stay tough and can stay healthy throughout the entire game against Cherokee Bluff, they should have a good chance to win the game. The Tigers have the best offense that Cherokee Bluff has played this year, so as long as they continue to play a physical style of football, they should be competitive all throughout. 

Cherokee Bluff: Pass Defense. Their defense averages an interception per game, but their first true test of the season will be against the Tigers, who attempt on average 27 passes a game. If the defensive backs of Cherokee Bluff can shut down Holtzclaw and the Tigers passing game, a victory would seem inevitable.