JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The Chattahoochee Cougars lost all their skill position starters on offense from last season, with almost all of them going on to college on football scholarships.
But in addition to the losses at quarterback, running back and receiver, the Cougars also suffered heavy losses in the defensive secondary, and the team’s inexperience on both sides of the football was evident in last Friday night’s season opener.
The Cougars lost 42-7 at home Aug. 22, against Cherokee, a team on the rise in Region 5-AAAAAA.
The Warriors piled up 386 yards of offense against a mostly untested Chattahoochee defense, with 296 yards of that total coming from passes from Cherokee quarterback Spencer Ashley, who completed 27 of 33 attempts.
Ashley’s favorite target was Andrew Harris, who had 14 receptions for 212 yards and three touchdowns, picking up sizeable chunks of yardage on short passes and also getting behind the Cougars’ secondary a few times.
The Warriors led 28-0 at the half, scoring on drives of 65, 80 and 80 yards and taking advantage of a fumble by the Cougars inside their 20.
Cherokee scored on its first possession of the second half and made it 42-0 later in the third period on Ashley’s fourth touchdown pass of the night.
The Cougars avoided a shutout on a 9-yard scoring pass from backup quarterback Chase Owens to Isaac Kinsey in the final period after Jordan Einstein returned an interception 36 yards to the Cherokee 9. Chattahoochee scored on the next play.
Owens was more effective in the final period than starting quarterback David Nicoletta was in the first three quarters, but had the benefit of playing against Cherokee’s reserves.
Blake Hundley led the Chattahoochee offense with 71 yards on 20 carries. The Cougars rushed for 155 yards, but managed just 43 yards passing, completing nine of 18 attempts.
The Chattahoochee defense allowed a modest 90 yards rushing, with the Warriors attempting only a handful of running plays prior to taking a 21-0 lead early in the second period.
The Cougars are off this week, and begin play in Region 6-AAAAAA Sept. 5 at North Forsyth.