Pregame Prep: Week 5

Carter County Sports

New conference foes – including a clash that will have implications on the region crown – highlight the Week 5.

Hampton will make the trip to Gatlinburg for a crucial game in Region 1-2A that highlights the week games. Cloudland will welcome Concord Christian for Homecoming 2015, and Elizabethton and Happy Valley will also hit the road for conference games at Unicoi County and Cosby, respectively. In non conference action, Unaka will continue their four-week road trip by going to JI Burton.

It should be another beautiful night for football, so take a look at what is on deck for Friday night.

The Slate
Concord Christian at Cloudland
Hampton at Gatlinburg-Pittman
Elizabethton at Unicoi County
Happy Valley at Cosby
Unaka at JI Burton

The Breakdown
Hampton at Gatlinburg-Pittman
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Hampton and GP will meet in one of the most anticipated match-ups of the early season as the winner will take a big step towards their goal of a region championship. The Bulldogs have rolled through their first three games, but had the off week last week. The Highlanders – isn’t it fitting Hampton has a crucial conference clash with a group of Highlanders – haven’t had the start of the year they wanted.

Hampton is averaging 55 points per game, while only allowing 13 points per defensively. The Highlanders enter the match-up 1-2 after season opening losses to Pigeon Forge and Greenback. GP struggled by only scoring 20 points combined in the first two games, but scored 56 points on a Cumberland Gap team that has given up 50+ points in each of their three games.

Keys for Hampton: Be sound fundamentally on defense
It is hard to nitpick against a Hampton team that is rolling. However, the Bulldogs felt they had some breakdowns as far as tackling against Cosby. With a bye week, the coaches have had an extra week of prep – and practice – to get Hampton even better then they were in the first three weeks.

For those headed to Gatlinburg-Pittman, be advised that the annual Rod Runs are going on in Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg this weekend. The best route to the game might be 321 from Interstate 40. For directions, visit Google Maps or whatever tool you feel more comfortable with.

Concord Christian at Cloudland
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
Cloudland will celebrate Homecoming 2015 by hosting Concord Christian to Orr Field for the first ever meeting between the two teams. Cloudland has won three straight shootouts by out toughing their opponents – especially in the fourth quarter. The ‘Landers claimed an important win at Oakdale two weeks ago, and a win on Friday would put them in the drivers seat in the region race.

Keys for Cloudland: Don’t let the passing game beat them
The ‘Landers defense has been solid in rush defense, but has saw teams able to move the ball through the air. In looking to get an edge, Concord will most likely try to go to the air to move the ball, and the ‘Landers will need to be prepared. With youth in the secondary, Cloudland has had to grow up quickly, and Friday night should be a good chance to show off the improvement.

Elizabethton at Unicoi County
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
After two weeks inside the friendly confines of Citizen’s Bank Stadium, the Cyclones will head to Erwin to take on Unicoi County for their second road game of the season. The new stadium has been kind to the Cyclones with two straight wins over Johnson County and Daniel Boone. Elizabethton has used a balance of the running and passing game to find the win column.

The Blue Devils are improved from last year’s 0-10 squad, and are coming off a 34-19 homecoming loss to Happy Valley. Unicoi County has wins over South Greene and West Greene so far this season, but a shutout loss to Sullivan East also appears along with last week’s loss.

Keys for Elizabethton: Establish the passing game
The Blue Devils defense has struggled in defending the pass game this season. Elizabethton will need to get the passing game going early, which should then loosen up the rush defense. Last week, Happy Valley used the passing game to move the ball against the Blue Devils, and the Cyclones should look to do the same.

Happy Valley at Cosby
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

After two games that got away from Happy Valley, they finally got in the win column against Unicoi County. The Warriors offense took control of the game in the second half to pull away with the win. With the first two games against a pair of really good Cloudland and Sullivan North squads, it was good to see the Warriors break through for the win. A win on Friday night would be important for the Warriors’ and their postseason hopes.

The Eagles enter the game with a 1-2 mark, with a win over Unaka in the season opener. Hampton rolled past Cosby two weeks ago, and the Eagles were unable to keep pace with Cherokee (N.C.) last week.

Keys for Happy Valley: Set the tone early
The Warriors set the tone in the second half against Unicoi County to pull away for the win. On Friday night, Happy Valley will want to come out and set the tone early to take control of the game. Against Cloudland and Sullivan North, the Warriors were able to move the ball, but were playing from behind. If the offense can get going early, it will go a long way in helping the Warriors pick up win number two.

Unaka at JI Burton
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Another road trip awaits the Rangers on Friday night with a trip to J.I. Burton in Norton, Va. Unaka struggled last week against a really good Harriman team after lightning delayed the start of the game by over an hour and a half. The Rangers will wrap up a four-game road stretch this week before returning to the creek next week.

The Black Raiders are 2-1 on the season with two straight wins.

Keys for Unaka: Get the offense moving again
The Rangers’ offense had found a groove in a 34-0 win over Concord, but Harriman posed a different challenge last week. Unaka will need to get the offense back on track and put the Harriman game behind them.

By the Numbers
6- Hampton and Elizabethton’s ranking in their respective classes in the AP poll.
12- Completions that Elizabethton’s Hunter Tyree had along with 188 yards passing.
107- Yards that Mookie Madison had on the ground in the win over Unicoi County.
383- Combined rushing yards between Cloudland’s Colby Birchfield and Austin Whitehead during the Avery win.
974- Miles that Unaka will have traveled following tonight’s game during the past four weeks.

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