With the first week of games in the book, we take a look at five things we learned last night.
1- Ethan Thomas looks like he is ready to pick up where he left off last season. The senior running back had touchdown runs of 44 and 31 yards enroute to finishing the game with 100 yards on seven carries. With Caleb Armstrong also having a stellar game at quarterback, the Cyclones look like they could be even more dangerous than expected.
2- Hampton is a different team from a year ago. After being plagued by injuries and seeing many younger kids get thrown in the fire last season, it looks like it paid off in experience as the Bulldogs rolled over Unicoi County. Coby Jones, Adam McClain and Jerry Lunsford proved to be a difficult trio to game plan for especially with Dylan Ford and the receiving group giving the Bulldogs plenty of options. McClain will miss time due to an injury, but Hampton should be able to fill the void.
3- The Cloudland offense experienced a sluggish first game, but showed they have the potential to be a potent offense. While the trio of Austin Whitehead, Zac Benfield and Colby Birchfield have headlined the Cloudland efforts this offseason, the defense kept a dangerous Avery squad in check – throwing the offensive shutout for the second straight season. Noah Arnett, Benfield and Birchfield were thorns in the Avery passing game, and the Cloudland defensive line kept Avery’s talented quarterback Tre Jackson and a speedy offense in check.
4- While it was a loss, Unaka should have no shame in their performance at Oliver Springs on Friday night. The Rangers, who only have 24 players on the roster, led early in the game before the heat and the effects of a long trip showed in the second half. The biggest key, however, was to gain more experience for a young squad as well as building confidence.
5- On Thursday night, Josh Hammonds showed that he has the ability to be the perfect counterpunch in the backfield for Happy Valley. With talented running back Phillip Garland returning, the Warriors QB showed he has the potential to take some pressure off of Garland. Happy Valley has to recover quickly from some injuries as they travel to Roan Mountain for a nonconference clash. However, Hammonds can help this offensive group get clicking on all cylinders.