It is road trip Friday for Carter County teams as all four teams (with the exception of Happy Valley who is off) will play road games on Friday night. With the threat of rain, it could be an interesting night of football across the region.
Cloudland at North Greene: The ‘Landers, frankly, can’t be pleased with their last performance at Tri-Cities Christian. With the bye week to stew on it, it is quite possible this game will be decided early with the talented offense the Highlanders will bring. Austin Whitehead has already eclipsed the 700-yard rushing mark for the year, and Colby Birchfield is knocking on the door of 700-yards rushing. And oh yea, Zac Benfield can also burn you as he is nearing the 500-yard mark. Noah Blair, Dylan Markland, Cameron Stevens, Ethan Lusk and Hez Street anchoring the offensive line, the Highlanders have had no problem moving the ball this year.
This game could go one of two ways: Cloudland exerts their dominance early and controls the game or it will be a dog fight to the end. Last week, the Huskies showed they had speed and could get to the edge, but Hampton kept them pinned up for the most part. The Highlanders will have to keep the North Greene offense corralled, but will have to come out with that killer instinct to be sure this one goes Cloudland’s way.
Hampton at Cosby: Last week, Hampton Head Coach Mike Lunsford was pleased with all aspects of the Hampton win against North Greene. With the duo of Coby Jones and Jerry Lunsford carrying the ball (not to mention Jones’ passing ability and the talented group of receivers like Dylen Ford and Caleb West), the Bulldogs’ offense has been on a roll of late. So far this season, Hampton has outscored opponents 205-90 behind a Zac Guinn led offensive line.
The trip to Cosby is never easy, and Hampton will have to shake off the effects early. The Eagles are a scrappy bunch who hung with Cloudland for a quarter and a half before the ‘Landers took control. That said, Hampton has to get the offense rolling early, and doesn’t need to let the Eagles hang around. Cosby quarterback Dereck Weeks is a great athlete. However, Hampton trumps Weeks’ with their group of offensive weapons.
Elizabethton at Sullivan North: Ethan Thomas and the Cyclones have been rolling in conference play as they have outscored their two Three Rivers Conference opponents 120-27. Head Coach Shawn Witten’s club may be the most dangerous offense in the area as Thomas has made his presence felt in every game this year. Add in Caleb Armstrong’s play at quarterback along with Markus Olds, Drew Bowers and Jaylen Smith at wide receiver, and Elizabethton has caused plenty of nightmares for opposing coaches this season.
This week, Elizabethton is Sullivan North’s nightmare this week, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for the Raiders. After losing the last four games, Sullivan North has been outscored 101-78 in their three conference games. The Cyclones will need to continue doing what they have done the past few weeks and strike early and often. That shouldn’t be a problem for the Cyclones, but Sullivan North can’t be overlooked.
Unaka at South Greene: For the Rangers, this is a big game. After playing what could be considered a gauntlet to open the season, it has made the Rangers better for this stretch where Unaka could be favored in each game with the playoffs a strong possibility if they win out. Micah Hunt has gotten better as the season as progressed and Austin Taylor, Alijah Egolf and Brandon Guinn have added valuable carries for the Rangers. However, Jacob Day, Travis Overdorf and the rest of the Rangers’ offensive line are making strides, and will need to continue to do so this next four games.
Against South Greene, Unaka will have to not be intimidated on Rebel Hill. The Rebels, honestly, aren’t who we expected them to be at the start of the season, and the Rangers know this could kickstart them to end the season on a winning note. Unaka will need to set a tone early and not give up the big play to keep the Rebels grounded.