CHERRY — When the Cherry High School football program came back into existence last year, the long-term goal was to make it into a section final.
But with such a crazy season, that goal didn’t seem attainable.
The Tigers will have that chance today when they take on Silver Bay in a Section 7-Nineman semifinal contest, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Mountain Iron-Buhl High School Field.
It’s a quick turnaround from Cherry’s win over Northeast Range Tuesday, but Tiger coach Jason Marsh knows his team will be ready to play the Mariners.
“Even from Tuesday to Saturday is a quick turnaround, but this is even quicker,” Marsh said. “That’s par for the course during this season. It was one of those years where we can play, we can’t play, then we could play again. This is 2020. That sums it up.
“They will be ready to go. When they got the news that they made this decision to move up the semifinals, the kids were excited. There were more than a few kids who thought they were done, especially the seniors. They will have some closure to the season. They’re looking forward to it.”
This game will be Cherry’s final contest of the season as high school and youth sports have been put on pause for four weeks.
Not even that news has dampened the Tigers’ enthusiasm.
“The kids have handled this adversity and the ups-and-downs well this year,” Marsh said. “We almost expected it. We had a season, then the season was off. The season was supposed to be in the spring, then we had two weeks of distance learning.
“The kids have been rolling with it. Now, it’s a matter of showing up and playing football.”
Cherry earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament, and they’re playing a Silver-Bay team it beat 42-0 in October.
Marsh expects an entirely different game this time around.
“They had one of their top linemen and quarterback both out for that game,” Marsh said. “Every team was dealing with COVID issues all year. That added an extra dimension for coaches managing their rosters.
“They will be a much-different team, and much-more difficult to beat.”
In what way?
“When you have someone that runs an offense well, efficiently, can handle the ball and has experience, that can make a difference,” Marsh said. “It’ll be a different game. We’ve watched a lot of film, and we have a game plan to deal with it.
“We’ve been preaching all year to do your job. If everybody on defense does that, we should be in good shape.”
Offensively, Cherry has been putting up a lot of points on the board.
“The offense has been playing well,” Marsh said. “The kids are feeling comfortable with it. It suits our skill set, so we’ll try to keep that rolling.”
Marsh is certain of one thing — he knows his athletes will leave everything they have on that field. There’s no holding back now.
“That’s similar to what we told them before the quarterfinal game because we didn’t know what the future was going to hold,” Marsh said. “For the seniors, this is it. How do they want to go out?
“Our goal since we brought the program back was to play in a section final. That’s not an option this year, and in essence, to qualify for one, this would be a big step in that direction. There won’t be a motivation problem.”