Pregame Prep: Week 2

First off, welcome to the first edition of a new feature for CarterCountySports.com during football season. We will take a look at the keys, notes and other information for the week’s games.

It will be a busy Week 2 as all five county teams are in action – with one inter-county match-up with Cloudland taking on Happy Valley. Last week, Hampton, Unaka and the ‘Landers opened the regular season, and Elizabethton joins the Warriors for kicking off the 2015 season this week.

The Slate

Cloudland at Happy Valley, Warrior Hill
Johnson County at Hampton, JC Campbell Stadium
Elizabethton at Science Hill, Kermit Tipton Stadium
Unaka at Cosby, Virgil Ball Stadium

The Breakdown

Elizabethton at Science Hill
Records: Elizabethton (0-0), Science Hill (0-0)

Despite a week in the books, it will be the season opener for both teams, and both teams are looking for someone to step up and fill a void by graduation. This game has been typically the second week of the season, and allows both teams a week to get the jitters out.

Keys for Elizabethton: Find an offensive rhythm and limit first game mistakes

The Cyclones need to find their offense early as Science Hill will have the weapons to score. Elizabethton’s tall task of replacing Ethan Thomas got even tougher with Caleb Jones out with injury for the year.

EHS also has to limit the typical first game mistakes that come with jitters. In the match-up with the 6A school, mistakes will come back to haunt you.

Cloudland at Happy Valley
Records: Cloudland (0-1), Happy Valley (0-0)

The ‘Landers have a played game under their belt, while the Warriors are set to open the season. Cloudland went toe-to-toe with an impressive Northview team last week, but the lack of depth hurt the ‘Landers in the second half. Happy Valley will have to be settled at quarterback as Sage Haun will be out for the first part of the season due to injury.

Keys for Happy Valley: Keep Cloudland offense in check; limit first game issues

The ‘Landers have a talented duo in the backfield in Austin Whitehead and Colby Birchfield. The Warriors must limit Cloudland’s rushing attack to help the HV offense.

The Warriors must also limit the first game issues. With a new head coach and new conference, it is an exciting time on Warrior Hill, but HV has to limit the nerves and excitement on opening night.

Key for Cloudland: Set the tempo

With the issues at depth, Cloudland must set the tempo of the game to try and limit the fatigue on the players. The ‘Landers are talented across the board, but numbers aren’t on their side. While controlling the tempo won’t magically fix the depth issue, it can go along way in helping the ‘Landers finish the game.

Unaka at Cosby
Records: Unaka (0-1), Cosby (0-0)

The Rangers had a tough opening week at North Greene, and now the road comes calling – literally. Unaka starts a four-game road trip by going to Cosby. The Eagles are no longer conference foes with the Rangers, but it is still a big game for Unaka to set the tone for the road trip.

Keys for Unaka: Set a defensive tone; get a young team comfortable on the road

Micah Hunt played a masterful game against North Greene last week, but the NG offense countered with their own masterful game. Unaka will need to set the tone early defensively to keep the ball in the hands of Hunt and the Rangers’ offense. It is Cosby’s first game of the season.

Unaka must also get a young team settled in their first road game. With a sophomore and freshman taking snaps at center and a young offensive line, it is important for the Rangers to settle nerves quickly – especially for a team that is starting a four-game road trip.

Johnson County at Hampton
Records: Hampton (1-0), Johnson County (0-1)

The Bulldogs looked impressive last week by rolling over Avery County (N.C.). Adam McClain scored four early touchdowns, and Climate Controllers Player of the Week Jerry Lunsford recorded over 250 total yards in the game. The Longhorns on the other hand had a week to forget as they fell 21-0 to Sullivan East at home.

Key for Hampton: Keep the mojo rolling

It didn’t seem like much went wrong for the Bulldogs last week. Against the Longhorns, the Bulldogs should try to duplicate the effort from last week as both the defense and offense were clicking on all cylinders – especially in the first half.

By the Numbers

2- Consecutive season opening games that Elizabethton has won.
13.6- Average gain per play for the Bulldogs in the win at Avery County.
82- Yards that Micah Hunt tallied against North Greene last week.
281- Combined rushing yards for Cloudland’s Austin Whitehead and Colby Birchfield.
559- Total offense that Hampton recorded last week.

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