Pregame Prep: Week 3

It is hard to believe it is Week 3 already. It is a big Friday night as all five county schools will open region play in addition to the Cyclones opening their new stadium. With Elizabethton, Hampton and Happy Valley at home, it will be a busy night in the county. Cloudland and Unaka will both be on the road. Without further ado, let’s get ready for this week’s games.

The Slate
Johnson County at Elizabethton
Cosby at Hampton
Sullivan North at Happy Valley
Cloudland at Oakdale,
Unaka at Concord Christian

The Breakdown

Johnson County (0-2) at Elizabethton (0-1)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

It is a big night in the history of Elizabethton football as the new Citizen’s Bank Stadium will open. The Cyclones will welcome Johnson County as the first guests. Both teams looking for their first win of the season as Elizabethton lost last week’s heartbreaker to Science Hill. The Longhorns are coming off a 50-14 loss at Hampton.

It will be a conference match-up for both schools. Friday is a big night for the Cyclones, and a win would top the cake.

Keys for Elizabethton: Enjoy the moment…but not too much
It is a big night for the Cyclones and deservingly so. However, Shawn Witten’s squad will have to bounce back after last week’s loss at Science Hill, and not let the thrill of playing the first game in the new stadium get in the way of playing in the stadium.

With the Elizabethton offensive attack, especially the rushing attack featuring Jeremiah Turner, Logan Norman and Corey Russell, the Cyclones should be able to control the tempo and speed of the game. That will go a long way in helping the excitement and jitters turn into a win.

Cosby (1-0) at Hampton (2-0) 
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Hampton looks to continue the roll they’ve been on since the opening kick of 2015, and they will welcome Cosby to open the region play. The Bulldogs’ offensive attack has been nothing short of stellar. After using the ground game to roll past Avery in Week 1, Hampton went to the air in Week 2 to pound Johnson County.

The Bulldogs have averaged 544 offensive yards per game to go with an average of 52 points per game. In the first half, Hampton is averaging 45.5 points and accounting for nearly 90 percent of their total offensive in the first half. Cosby opened the 2015 season with a trouncing of Unaka with a solid team effort led by Jacob Johnson and Matt Lane.

Keys for Hampton: Contain Cosby’s Offense
The Eagles accounted for 325 total offensive yards in last week’s win over Unaka, and showed potential to move the ball. While compared to Hampton’s numbers, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is nothing to sneeze at either.

Hampton should be able to control the game from the opening kick. For it to be a successful night, the Bulldogs will need to keep doing what they have been doing the first two weeks of the season.

Sullivan North (2-0) at Happy Valley (0-1)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Happy Valley might be the most disappointed 0-1 team in the state after last week’s loss. The Warriors felt they left three touchdowns on the field in the loss to Cloudland in the season opener after moving the ball much of the night. Mookie Madison and Sage Haun gave Happy Valley a spark, and the squad showed improvement from last season.

However, it wasn’t enough to keep the win from sliding away late.

The Warriors will welcome former Three Rivers Conference foe Sullivan North for a Region 1-2A matchup. The Black Knights enter the game 2-0 with wins over Volunteer and Sullivan Central. While it is the first game of a long region season, it is an important game for both teams looking to make the playoffs.

Keys for Happy Valley: Come away with points
Drive after drive ended without points last week against Cloudland for the Warriors, and it became the deciding factor. Happy Valley must capitalize on any chance they get to put points on the board, especially with a strong North squad.

Cloudland (1-1) at Oakdale (0-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. (All Region 1-A games will kickoff at 7 instead of the traditional 7:30)

The ‘Landers hit the road for their longest road trip of the season, 450 miles roundtrip, to open Region 1-A play. After running out of gas against Northview in the season opener, the ‘Landers righted the ship and outlasted Happy Valley with a smash mouth performance. The ‘Landers had over 300 yards of total offense in the win, powered by

Austin Whitehead and Colby Birchfield. There was no doubt after the game that Cloudland left everything they had on the field, and that is what got them the win.

Oakdale gave Coalfield a scare last week until the Yellow Jackets ran away late to take a 65-28 victory. The Eagles enter 0-2, and are short on depth – much like the ‘Landers. However, the offense does have some playmakers, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Keys for Cloudland: Be comfortable on the road
While it isn’t Cloudland’s first road game of 2015, it is going to be longest by far for the ‘Landers. That long of a trip on a bus will wear the strongest of people out. Cloudland will have to manage the trip and the humid temperatures in addition to managing fatigue. It is a tall task, but Cloudland has shown the desire and heart to fight through it.

Unaka (0-2) at Concord Christian (0-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. (All Region 1-A games will kickoff at 7 instead of the traditional 7:30)

The Rangers will hit the road looking for their first win of 2015. After dropping their home opener in Week 1 to North Greene, Unaka was unable to keep pace with Cosby late last week. The Rangers have averaged 17 points per game so far this season, and look to open Region 1-A play in style.

Concord Christian is in their first varsity season. The Lions are coached by former Tennessee standout Troy Fleming, and enter this game 0-1. Concord has lost to Grace Baptist of Chattanooga and Sale Creek, while averaging 10 points per game.

Keys for Unaka: Find another offensive weapon
If you’ve watched the Rangers, you know Micah Hunt plays a large role in the offense for Unaka. The Rangers will need to find someone to be another spark for the offense as the season continues starting at Concord. While the schedule wasn’t kind with a trip to Cosby last week and a trip to Knoxville this week, it certainly helps the Rangers get last week’s road trip under their belt before starting region play.

By the Numbers
1-3- Carter County teams in home openers this season with Hampton holding the lone win.
3- Game losing streak dating back to last season that Elizabethton hopes to break against Johnson County.
52- points per game that Hampton is averaging in the first two games
544- total offense yards per game for the Bulldogs in the first two games.
224- Rushing yards that Cloudland received from Colby Birchfield and Austin Whitehead last week at Happy Valley

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