Cherry said football was fun and made him tougher

By Steve Williams

On one of the first days of preseason football practice at Austin-East High School last August, basketball standout Shane Cherry was on the sideline observing. Not long after that, he joined the team.

He started out as a wide receiver but moved to quarterback and had a remarkable season as a junior.

Cherry passed for 1,443 yards and nine touchdowns and ran for 777 yards and 13 TDs as the Roadrunners went 3-7 in the regular season. He was named to The Knoxville Focus / Coaches’ All-Knox County first team as an Athlete.

In A-E’s 48-43 win at Unicoi County (7-3) in the Class 3A first round playoff game, Shane completed 13 of 23 passes for 386 yards and six touchdowns. He also ran for 86 yards and a TD on nine carries.

“It (football) was fun,” said Cherry after a basketball game against Central at A-E last week. “It was fun because I had taken a couple of years off from football. I didn’t know how I was going to be. I just came back and I still was good, so I liked it.”

As for playing football next season, Cherry said: “I don’t know yet. I’m thinking about it.”

He said playing football doesn’t interfere with his basketball. “It just makes me stronger really and tougher. So I liked it. It got me better.”

Shane, who is listed as a 5-10, 153-pound point guard, says basketball “definitely” remains No. 1 because he has scholarship offers in that sport from Tennessee, Auburn, Penn State, Radford and Tennessee State among others.

A-E basketball coach Denard Bertram has been supportive of Shane playing football from the beginning and remains so.

“The physicality of the game I felt helped him,” he said following the Roadrunners’ 72-59 win over Central.

Jeff Black, Austin-East Athletic Director and a former high school football coach, also weighed in on Cherry’s football season.

“He’s extremely raw but an amazing athlete,” said Black. “Not a top level quarterback but makes plays no matter where he is on the field.

“If he worked at football like he does basketball, he would have some high level opportunities at that as well.”

Black also pointed out Cherry would leave after football practice to go work on basketball.

“He now has played several basketball games and is getting back in basketball shape,” added Black. “He makes everyone else better just like he does in football. His little brother Condis (a freshman) is also amazing at both sports.”