There may only be three games featuring Carter County teams on Friday night. However, all three are intriguing games.
The top game has to be the annual rivalry between Cloudland and Hampton. Another county vs. county matchup sees Happy Valley making the trip to Stoney Creek to take on Unaka in another non conference matchup, while Elizabethton will make the trip to Bristol for the intriguing match-up with Tennessee High.
It does look like it will be a rainy night, but should be a great night of football.
Cloudland at Hampton
Happy Valley at Unaka
Elizabethton at Tennessee High
Cloudland (4-1) at Hampton (4-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
For the first time in recent memory, this one doesn’t have conference title implications on the line. However, it doesn’t hamper the rivalry.
The Bulldogs have been rolling so far in 2015, as the offense is averaging over 50 points per game. Cloudland’s offensive attack has been just as impressive by averaging just over 37 points per game.
Hampton is coming off an impressive win over Gatlinburg-Pittman to take control of their own destiny in the conference race, while the ‘Landers also took control with a shortened Homecoming win over Concord Christian.
It will be a clash of impressive backfields as Hampton’s Coby Jones, Adam McClain and Jerry Lunsford will look to lead the Bulldogs to victory, while Colby Birchfield and Austin Whitehead will look to do the same for the ‘Landers.
Key for Cloudland: Limit the Hampton Offense
For the ‘Landers, it will be important to limit the Bulldogs offensive attack, but it will be a tall task.
With depth being a major issue for Cloudland, it will be important to set the tone and limit Hampton’s offensive possessions. The ‘Landers rushing attack has the potential to do just that, and it will important for their chance to win on Friday night.
Key for Hampton: Stop the Cloudland rushing attack
The Bulldogs will need to keep the Cloudland rushing attack bottled up to take the victory. Cloudland’s Birchfield and Whitehead are two premier backs, and Hampton has a great respect for the duo. It will be up to the Bulldogs’ defensive line as well as the linebacking corp to stop up the ‘Landers. The Cloudland duo is tough to stop in space – and it will be vital for Hampton to do just that.
Happy Valley (2-2) at Unaka (1-4)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
The Rangers have to feel thrilled to be back at home, while the Warriors are feeling good about the season.
Unaka has spent the past four weeks on the road, and came away with a 1-3 record to show for it. However, the Rangers showed offensive promise in last week’s loss at JI Burton despite being edged.
The Warriors are on a two-game winning streak after starting the season with two heartbreaking losses. It will be important non conference clash as both teams would like to have a victory to take back into conference play.
Key for Happy Valley: Keep the air game going
The Warriors have had success the past two weeks through the air, and will look to move the ball through the air on Friday night. Weather could have an impact (see below), but Happy Valley will look to establish the passing game – which will free up the run game as well.
Key for Unaka: Don’t get in a shootout
The Rangers have a tall order in front of them on Friday night, and it will be even tougher if they allow the game to be high scoring. Unaka has offensive power, but the Warriors have more depth. If the game is a low scoring clash, it increases the chances for the Rangers. However, a shootout would have to favor the Warriors – despite the Rangers putting up over 30 points twice this season.
Elizabethton (3-1) at Tennessee High (4-1)
The Cyclones hit the road on Friday night with a trip to the Stone Castle. The Cyclones have won three straight, including a 35-0 victory over Unicoi County last week, while the Vikings have won four straight games since a 45-14 loss in Week 1 to Dobyns-Bennett.
Hunter Tyree and the Cyclones offense were able to find a groove against Unicoi County, and will look to do the same against a tough Vikings squad that has allowed just under 12 points per game in the last four games.
Key for Elizabethton: Get the ground game going
The Cyclones have a solid rotation in the backfield with four great running backs. It will be important for Elizabethton to get the ground game going to take some pressure off the air game on Friday. With a solid performance from the offensive line and the stable of backs, the ground game can go a long ways in taking the Cyclones to victory.
By the Numbers:
4- Ranking that Hampton held in this week’s Class 2A poll.
6- Ranking that Elizabethton held in this week’s Class 4A poll.
45- Percent chance of rain at 6 p.m. on Friday according to weather.com.
333- Offensive yards that Cloudland recorded in one half against Concord Christian.
402- Offensive yards that Coby Jones recorded against Gatlinburg-Pittman.