It’s the end of an era for the Cherokee Braves football team. Coach Kent Briggs announced Wednesday he’s retiring and will spend next season experiencing life from the sidelines.
Briggs, an Asheville native who played quarterback at Reynolds High and Western Carolina, was a longtime college coach, serving as an assistant at WCU, N.C. State and UConn before a six-year stint at head coach of the Catamounts (2002-07).
In 2014, when he arrived in Cherokee, the Braves were struggling to find an answer and a will to play after six straight losing season. Fast forward just a few years and Coach Briggs has a crew ranked among the top 1-A teams in the state.
In 2017, the same year he marched the Barves to a 1A state title, he was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. He survived head and neck cancer during his tenure at WCU and in 2017 was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
In a letter published by TheOneFeather.com, coach Briggs made the announcement to the Cherokee community,
After deep reflection about family, football, and life, I have decided to retire. There are many factors I considered before making this decision: personal, professional, medical, and what is in the best interest of Cherokee. I am doing ok after my second battle with stage four cancers, but I want to experience life from a different perspective other than on the sidelines. It is a difficult decision for me to make, but I believe in my heart that the timing is right for a new head coach to take over Cherokee football and continue to develop the young talent that we have here. I am confident that many other championships are on the horizon.
Briggs finishes with a 37-29 overall record at Cherokee, including a 14-1 record during the 2017 championship season when he was named the All-WNC coach of the year.