Like a lot of places, change hasn’t come overnight at Cherokee.
But there is no doubt it has come.
The Braves (6-4, 3-2) and third-year coach Kent Briggs have already won their most football games since 2009 and will bring a three-game winning streak into Senior Night against visiting Hayesville (2-7, 2-3).
Kickoff is Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Qualla Boundary.
Tye Mintz (1,262 passing yards, 678 rushing yards and 19 combined touchdowns) has run the show for the Cherokee offense with assistance from Isaiah Evans (785 yards, 14 touchdowns), Cade Mintz (31 receptions for 627 yards and five touchdowns), Holden Straughan (30 receptions for 328 yards and four touchdowns) and Shane Swimmer (25 receptions for 149 yards).
Cherokee beat two-time defending Smoky Mountain Conference champion Robbinsville by a touchdown last Friday. Defenders who have played a key role this season are Straughan (63 tackles), Joaquin Gabriel Layno (50) and Anthony Toineeta (47).
Briggs coached Western Carolina University from 2002 to 2007 and came on board at Cherokee in 2014.