Pregame Prep: Week 8

Welcome to the home stretch of the 2015 season.

The next four weeks will determine champions, playoff teams and bragging rights. It will be a fun  race to the end of the season, and it starts Friday night.

The Slate
Sullivan North at Hampton
Elizabethton at Claiborne
Cloudland at Sullivan East
North Greene at Happy Valley

The Breakdown

Sullivan North (6-0) at Hampton (6-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

The biggest game on the schedule is at JC Campbell Stadium as the No. 4 and No. 5 teams in the Class 2A poll will compete to see who takes the drivers seat in the region race. Both teams are undefeated entering the week.

The Bulldogs are one of the most efficient offenses in the area by averaging 51 points per game with a strong offensive attack. The Hampton defense has been just as impressive by allowing opponents under 20 points per game. The Black Raiders are averaging just over 32 points while only allowing 14 points per game.

Key for Hampton: Let the offense set the tempo
The Bulldogs offensive attack has set the tone all season for the Bulldogs. In a game of Friday’s magnitude, the offense will be looked upon to continue that trend.

Hampton will need to set the tempo to control the ball – and the line of scrimmage – to keep the Black Raiders in check. With the many weapons, the Hampton offense is hard to stop, and Friday should prove no different.

Elizabethton (5-1) at Claiborne (2-4)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

The Cyclones are coming off an impressive win over Pigeon Forge last week, and carry a five game winning streak into the region match-up. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, are riding a three-game losing streak being outscored 159-65 in those games.

While it is the first meeting for the two teams, Elizabethton is the heavy favor especially with the way the Cyclones are playing right now.

Key for Elizabethton: Don’t let the road blues get you
There isn’t a good way to get to Claiborne (we’re kidding, kind of), and the Cyclones will have to be sure to not let the journey get to them. If the Cyclones can shake off the bus ride, Coach Shawn Witten’s squad should have an enjoyable ride home.

Cloudland (5-2) at Sullivan East (4-2)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

The ‘Landers took a major step in their goal of claiming a conference title last week, but will step out of conference play with a trip to Bluff City. The Patriots are a much improved program with losses coming to Seymour and Class 4A No. 2 Greeneville.

Cloudland has won five of their last six games, and the offense has scored over 30 points in each of their seven games this season. The Patriots picked up a shutout victory at Volunteer last week after dropping the two straight games.

Key for Cloudland: Control the game tempo
The ‘Landers have dealt with depth issues all season, and those show up more in games against bigger schools like Sullivan East. To try and combat that, Cloudland will need to slow the pace with their running game. A slower pace will limit the possessions in the game and will favor Coach Brock Pittman’s crew.

North Greene (2-4) at Happy Valley (3-3)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

It is Homecoming on Warrior Hill on Friday night, and it is a big game to keep playoff hopes alive. Since opening the season with losses to Cloudland and Sullivan North, the Warriors had been on a roll prior to last week’s loss to Hampton. Happy Valley, however, didn’t go away without a fight as they rallied late to nearly pull the upset.

The Huskies enter Friday night with only one victory in their past five games- with that win being an important win against Cumberland Gap. The winner on Friday night will have a chance to fight for a playoff spot.

Key for Happy Valley: Let the offense roll
The Warrior offensive attack has improved with each game, and that should continue on Friday night. Happy Valley will need to let the offense continue to be balanced to come away with the win. While it is easy to get sidetracked with all the Homecoming activities, the Warriors will need to be focused at the job at hand.
By the Numbers
Since we are in the final month of the regular season, By the Numbers takes on a new look – as in the region standings for the three regions with Carter County schools.

Region 1-3A
Elizabethton 3-0, 5-1
Northview Academy 2-1, 4-2
Pigeon Forge 2-1, 4-2
Unicoi Co. 2-1, 3-3
Chuckey-Doak 2-1, 4-2
Johnson Co. 1-2, 2-4
Claiborne 0-3, 2-4
West Greene 0-3, 2-4

Region 1-2A
Hampton 3-0, 6-0
Sullivan North 3-0, 6-0
Gatlinburg-Pittman 2-1, 2-4
South Greene 2-1, 2-4
Happy Valley 1-2, 3-3
North Greene 1-2, 2-4
Cosby 0-3, 2-4
Cumberland Gap 0-3, 0-6

Region 1-A
Cloudland 3-0, 5-2
Hancock Co. 1-1, 4-3
Oakdale 1-1, 3-3
Unaka 1-1, 1-6
Concord Christian 0-3, 0-6