It was a wet Friday night last week, but this weekend is set to be a beautiful night for football. With that said, we take a look at the games across the county as we head into crunch time.
Johnson County at Elizabethton: The Cyclones dealt with a pesky Sullivan North squad last week before eventually pulling away. The Longhorns may be able to be hang around with their balanced offensive, but Elizabethton has so many weapons in Ethan Thomas, Caleb Jones, Caleb Armstrong and even down to Marcus Olds.
Johnson County has proven they can’t be taken lightly as Warren Kerley and the Longhorns can score on the ground and through the air. However, you have to like the Elizabethton offense being able to outscore almost anyone at this point in the season. We understand that Johnson County is a trendy upset pick the next two weeks, but the Cyclones firepower should keep that from becoming an issue.
Unicoi County at Happy Valley: This might be the most interesting matchup of the night. Happy Valley, honestly, doesn’t look like a 0-7 team, and Unicoi County has had a coaching change midseason that shook up the offense.
The key for the Warriors will be if they can keep Unicoi running back Luke Fronckoski in check. Fronckoski piled up 108 yards against the Longhorns last week, and has been a steady threat for the Blue Devils. The Warriors, however, have a great one-two punch in Phillip Garland and Austin Hicks not to mention the rest of the offense. This game could very likely come down to who prevents the big plays.
South Greene at Cloudland: There is no better way to put it – Cloudland simply underachieved their past two games. While escaping Tri-Cities Christian heading into the bye week was concerning, last week’s loss at North Greene sent shockwaves across the state.
This week, the ‘Landers have to get back on track as they still control their own destiny. South Greene enters after seeing quarterback Justin Casteel exploded for five passing touchdowns in a victory over Unaka last week. Cloudland must get back to being the most physical team on the field, and there is no better time than the present. Look for Austin Whitehead, Colby Birchfield and Zac Benfield to be the catalyst for the Cloudland offense.
Hampton at Hancock County: Last week showed that the Bulldogs have no problem playing on the road as they rolled at Cosby. The Hampton offense is clicking on all cylinders on the legs of Colby Jones and Jerry Lunsford.
However, Hampton might be just as dangerous as Elizabethton offensively as Jones has a wide variety of receivers who are dangerous weapons. For the Bulldogs, this week comes down to what they have done so well this year – control the game offensively and limit Hancock’s chances.
Tri-Cities Christian at Unaka: The Rangers had to feel like they let a game get away last week. This week, however, is another big game as the Rangers look to pick up their second win of the season.
The Eagles of Tri-Cities Christian, honestly, may be the most confusing team in the region. After nearly upsetting Cloudland, the Eagles got edged by a Hancock County team many felt TCC would roll over. Unaka has to have a strong game from Micah Hunt and the offense. This one could very easily go in the favor of Unaka, and they need to take advantage of it.