By Shelly Hess
Phillips 76 Cherokee
BEAR CREEK - Homecoming 2021 could not have gone any better for the Phillips Bears, who completely decimated the Cherokee Indians 76-0 Friday night, Oct. 1.
The Bears played with complete class, not doing anything to add insult to injury to the obviously struggling Indians.
Kicker Guillem Llinares set the tone for the Bears on the kickoff, blasting the pigskin to the back of the end zone for a touchback, the first of seven on the night.
The Bears were soon on offense, with Hayden Hulsey taking the punt all the way across the field for a touchdown. Llinares was also perfect on PATs, making it 7-0 with 9:40 left in the first.
Just over one minute later, a bad punt gave the Bears great field position at the Cherokee 24, and Christian Chambers found Lathen Burton open for a long pass and a touchdown, with the score 14-0 after the PAT.
Chambers got to Cherokee’s quarterback, dropping him for a loss, which was made worse on the next play by a high snap, placing the Indians in a 4th-and-35 situation.
The punt was high and short, giving the Bears the ball back at the Indian 26-yard line.
Chambers called his own number and wasn’t even touched as he went into the end zone, putting the Bears up 21-0, with 6:35 left in the first quarter.
Cherokee showed some life in their next possession, but the Bears defense was too strong. Jacob Watters picked up the blocked punt and carried it into the end zone, increasing the Bears’ lead to 28-0 after Llinares’ PAT.
On third-and-long, Cherokee put it into the air, and it landed in Andrew Byrd’s hands for the Pick 6. Llinares was spot-on once more, and the Bears had a 35-0 lead...and there was still over a minute left in the first quarter.
Cherokee began the second quarter with their best field position of the night after recovering a fumble by Phillips’ special teams.
The Indians were at their own 40-yard line, but Joshua Jordan and company kept the Indians from progressing any further, and the Bears were back on offense quickly, starting at midfield. Chambers completed a pass to Llinares, who took it up the left sideline for a touchdown, proving he can score touchdowns, as well as kick the ball.
He added on the point after to make it 42-0 early in the second.
Aaron Grammer and Jordan got to Cherokee’s quarterback to stop the Indians, and another short punt gave the Bears the ball back at the Cherokee 30-yard line.
Josh Mann got in on the TD action on the first play from scrimmage, Llinares added on another point, and the Bears were 49-0 with 7:54 left in the half.
Nevin Elkins pitched back to Chambers for a 24-yard gain on the Bears’ next possession. Chambers kept it on the next play for the touchdown.
Llinares was good on the PAT once more, and the Bears had a 56-0 lead with 4:57 left in the half.
A holding penalty against the Bears helped Cherokee out, but a fumble by the Indians helped the Bears after Jayden Sanchez recovered it near midfield. Byrd took the handoff on the next play up the sideline to the end zone. Inigo De lis came in for the PAT and missed this one, but it didn’t matter because the Bears were ahead 62-0 with 1:50 left in the half.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for Cherokee, they did. Jordan got a scoop-and-score for the Bears 8 seconds after their last touchdown.
De lis was good on the PAT this time, and the first half ended with the Bears up 69-0.
Five-minute quarters were put in place for the second half, and the Bears scored their last touchdown on the night on their first possession, which began at midfield.
Chambers hit Hayden Kelley in the end zone for the touchdown. Llinares got his 9th PAT on the night, and the final was 76-0.
The Bears’ win Friday night is the largest margin of victory in the school’s football program history, according to the Alabama High School Football Historical Society.
However, this was not the most points scored by the Phillips Bears during a single game in school history. That happened in 2008 when the Bears defeated Vina 82-44.
This week’s game will not be as easy for the Bears, as one of their chief rivals, Hackleburg, comes to town for a region game.
The Panthers are 4-2 coming into the game, with only one region loss this year. The game time is 7 p.m.
See complete story in the Journal Record.