South Doyle Cherokees

If the South-Doyle Cherokees are to rebound and be a legitimate threat to make the playoffs this season, they will have to do so through a big time rebuilding job by Head Coach Jim Swafford and his staff. The Cherokees return only three starters on both sides of the ball off a team that finished only 4-6 in 2002.

"We must have non special players make special plays," said Coach Swafford. "Our players must be physical and aggressive on both sides of the ball, attack at all times and we must be good in the kicking game."

South-Doyle needs to improve on their 14 points per game offensive output from a year ago and also be more consistent moving the football as they averaged only 250 yards per game of total offense.

The Cherokees operate out of the double slot option offensive attack. Running the ball was not a problem last season as South-Doyle averaged a solid 205 yards on the ground.

Senior QB Nathan Nash (6'3" 180) returns hoping to improve his numbers. Nash completed 43 of 112 passes for only 287 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2002 and must get better to balance the Cherokees attack.

The running backs are young and inexperienced. Junior C.J. Smith (6'1" 180) and sophomore Mike Stevenson (5'9" 160) must seize the moment and step into the spotlight on Friday nights. Another sophomore Orlando Lightfoot (6'1" 175) will get his opportunities to shine as well in the Cherokee backfield.

When Nash looks downfield in passing situations, he will be in search of senior wide receiver Jay Zartman (6'0" 210). He has the size to make plays. Sophomore Corey Rowan (5'11" 140) should be another flanker for South-Doyle.

The Cherokees should be solid up front. Two of five starters return to anchor the offensive line. Seniors Josh England (6'1" 240) at tackle and Bob Matthews (5'10" 235) at guard will be counted upon to protect Nash and open holes for the running game. Newcomers must mess to form a unit in a hurry. The center should be junior Josh Rollins (6'2" 260). Adam Jones (6'4" 280) will certainly look the part as a senior guard and Brendon Jones (6'3" 230) a senior tackle.

South-Doyle was very good defensively a year ago and several key players return to apply the leather. The Cherokees gave up only 13 points per game in 2002. Certainly good enough to win consistently.

The front eight will feature three rough and tumble linebackers. Senior Brad Brenam (5'11" 180) is the top returning tackler as he racked up 68 stops and tallied an interception last season. The middle linebacker should be junior Jeff Bowlin (5'11" 190). Bowlin jumped in on 43 tackles and also picked off a pass. Zartman is slated to get the nod at the other linebacker spot. Sophomore Tim Fletcher (6'0" 180) will see plenty of action.

The defensive line has potential. The noseman will be returnee Chaise Benton (5'10" 170). This senior ripped into 38 ballcarriers last year. The tackles must step up as newcomers to the starting unit. Senior Joe Bach (5'10" 190) and junior Jack Norton (5'11" 220) are ready for prime time. The defensive ends feature Smith, who had 37 tackles in 2002 and Lightfoot.

The secondary will be tested. Stevenson jumped in to find one interception a year ago and junior Adam Grigsby (6'0" 140) will be counted on at one cornerback spot. The other CB position is up for grabs.

As the South-Doyle Cherokees get set to race onto Billy K. Nicely Field in front of their usual raucous student body to start the 2003 football season, they must find a more balanced offense to go with a tough defense in order to have a winning record. It won't be easy as the warpath includes rugged annual state power Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett, Sevier County, improving Jefferson County and arch rival Halls. Look for plenty of close games for this Cherokee Nation in 2003. Prediction: 5-5

Playoff Contender: Yes

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