It is playoff time in Tennessee. Of the three Carter County teams that qualified, only one of them play in the first round as Elizabethton travels to Knoxville for a first-round date with Knoxville Catholic. Let’s get to our thoughts heading into Friday night.

The Cyclones have to be prepared to handle a balanced Catholic attack as the Irish average 209.6 rushing yards per game and 204 yards through the air. Elizabethton did a solid job, even though it was a loss, of containing a stout Sullivan South offense, not to mention Science Hill for the final three quarters of that game. However, the Cyclones will have to force the Irish off the field on third down. The Irish are led by Zac Jancek as he has over 2000 yards passing so far this season.

The Elizabethton offense, however, is no slouch. Ethan Thomas is the all-time leading rusher in Northeast Tennessee, and has made his presence felt in every game this year. The Cyclones must take control of this game early, and protect the ball as the Irish are +20 in the turnover margin. While we talked about the strong Knoxville Catholic offense, we have to also mention their stout defense that is allowing just under 245 yards per game this year.

Thomas and company will also need to try and get a balanced attack early, and the passing attack led by quarterback Caleb Armstrong certainly has the possibility. This game could come down to whoever makes the fewest mistakes, and that will be crucial for Elizabethton to survive the trip and advance into the second round.