It is going to be a very busy Friday night in Carter County with five games on the docket. We take a look at each game, and what we think is going to be the key.
Tennessee High at Elizabethton: This is the marquee game in the area on Friday night. The Cyclones are rolling right now, and with the Science Hill lost being the lone exception, haven’t really struggled. The No. 8 team in 5A comes to Brown Childress Stadium with an unblemished 4-0 record, and look to hand Elizabethton their second loss of the season.
However, the Cyclones offense is clicking on all cylinders. Senior Ethan Thomas is making his mark on Elizabethton history, and the Elizabethton offense must keep control of this game. With the rushing attack Elizabethton has, it shouldn’t be a problem. This game in a nutshell is simple: if Elizabethton can run the ball as they had the past couple of weeks, they will leave Friday night with a victory.
Hampton at Johnson County: After a week off, the Bulldogs will look to pick up where they have left off. The state’s No. 7 team in Class 2A enters with a 3-1 record. Johnson County rebounded last week with a win over Happy Valley after falling in Roan Mountain to Cloudland.
Hampton must continue to spread the ball in this game. Coby Jones has played well this year, and the Bulldogs will need a strong offensive effort to record the victory. Happy Valley recorded over single offensive yard against the Longhorns on the ground last week, and was in the game until the final minutes. If Hampton can toss some passing yards on top of their solid run game, they will leave Mountain City with the win.
Abingdon (Va.) at Happy Valley: The Warriors have been Carter County’s heartbreak kids so far this year. With late scores defeating Happy Valley at Johnson County, Hampton and against Volunteer, the Warriors are still looking for their first win. However, Happy Valley has played one of the region’s toughest schedules, and it will pay off on Friday night.
The key for the Warriors is simply rebound off of last week’s defeat. With senior Phillip Garland carrying the load, Happy Valley has showed they can attack with several different weapons. Head Coach Larry Shivley’s squad will need to continue to attack on the ground, and they will finally get the win they have been fighting so hard for.
Cloudland at Tri-Cities Christian: The ‘Landers are the county’s only undefeated team in the county, and they have gotten there with one of the most prolific offensive attacks in East Tennessee. Cloudland, who is ranked second in the Class A poll, is averaging 35.2 points per game, while only allowing an average of seven points per game.
With that said, Cloudland must remain comfortable on the road as the Highlanders haven’t played a road game since Week 0. As long as they can get used to playing on the road on Friday night, the ‘Landers, led by Austin Whitehead, Zac Benfield and Colby Birchfield, will need their offense to set the tone against an Eagles squad that has shown to be pesky this season.
Hancock County at Unaka: The Rangers have weathered a difficult schedule to open the season. The Rangers must get Micah Hunt and the offense clicking to have a chance to pick up their first win of the season. Unaka has shown bright spots throughout the year, however, if they can put together a complete game they can pick up their first win of the season.