Coach: Mike Sivert
2006 record: 5-5, 3-3
Offensive starters back: 6
Defensive starters back: 5
ROGERSVILLE — The Five Rivers Conference has earned a reputation for being a run-oriented league.
Cherokee may be in business this season. The Chiefs are well stocked with running backs and have some stoppers in the linebacker positions.
“This is the most talented depth we’ve ever had at the running backs,” coach Mike Sivert said. “In the past we’ve had four or five. We’ve got eight we wouldn’t differentiate between. They’ll all be playing.”
The Pony Express backfield is headed by Terrance Kersey, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior. Others are Tyler Carter, Junior Worley, Michael Godsey, Gabe Brooks, Brian Hake, Landon House, Coleman Elliott and Chance Burke.
Quarterbacks David Cantrell and Adam Andrews simply will be giving the ball to the runner with the hottest hand as Sivert enters his 28th season at Cherokee — 24th as its head coach.
“We have veteran running backs and a lot more experience and depth at the skill positions,” Sivert said. “That’s a luxury.”
Competing in the Five Rivers, it will take a total effort to be able to contend with front- runners Morristown West and Morristown East as well as other hopefuls Volunteer, Greeneville and Daniel Boone.
“We’ll have to improve steadily and raise up a good effort every Friday night,” Sivert said. “We must play aggressively and be consistent. We’ll take any breaks we can get.
“Our players have had a good offseason, they’ve been pretty focused and they’re eager to get going.”
Jordan Shively, a three-year starter, will be the tight end. Andrews will see action there as well. The tackles will be Zach Morris and Forrest Catron, with Jacob Cameron rotating in. James Livesay and Alex Shaw have the edge at the guards but David McWhirter is also in the picture. Zach Shunn will play center. Ethan Blair, Brock Stroud, Matt Hale and Jon Eric Buck will be the wideouts.
Defensively, Shaw, Shively and Eric Unroe will rotate at ends. The tackles will be Daniel Littleton, Adam Jones, Tony Okafor and David Peterman. Burke, Worley, Hake, Brooks and Brett Zook will handle the linebacking chores.
The defensive backs are even more experienced than the running backs.
Kersey, Godsey and Grant Gillis return as starters in the secondary. They’ll get help from Blair, Stroud, Elliott and Brandon Coffey.
“We have a totally different approach this season with a lot more seasoned veterans than usual,” Sivert said.
The Sivert family has left its mark on high school and college football. Mike’s grandfather, Dr. Orville Depew of Kingsport, played for Chattanooga. His father, Jim Sivert, prepped at Gate City and played for Gen. Robert Neyland at the University of Tennessee. Mike played for East Tennessee State on a team that defeated Terry Bradshaw and Louisiana Tech in the Grantland Rice Bowl. Mike’s eldest son Brett played at Tusculum and Casey, another son, is a lineman on Tusculum’s 2007 team.