It is October and the race for the playoffs is heating up as we enter the home stretch of the season.
Week 6 was a rainy night, but Week 7 may outdo it with the weather (more below) and the match-ups as all five county teams square off in important region contests. Each game will have an implication on how the postseason shakes out. Let’s not waste another second and take a look at the action for Friday night.
Cloudland at Unaka, 7 p.m.
Hampton at Happy Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Pigeon Forge at Elizabethton, 7:30 p.m.
It is going to be a rainy fall night according to our friend WJHL meteorologist Jeremy Eisenzopf. It will be upper 50’s at kickoff with mid 50’s by the end of the games. We will have scattered showers throughout the evening.
Graphic courtesy of Jeremy Eisenzopf (@jeremyeisenzopf) and WJHL
Cloudland (4-2) at Unaka (1-5), Goddard Field
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
It will be a battle to see who controls their own destiny on Stoney Creek.
Both teams enter Friday night without a blemish on their conference record. For the ‘Landers, stakes may be higher as Cloudland has a 2-0 mark on the conference record with the Oakdale game behind them, while the Rangers are 1-0 with a win over Concord – and Friday night kicks off a stretch of three straight conference games.
Key for Cloudland: Run the ball
The bread and butter of the Cloudland offense is the rushing attack – led by Austin Whitehead, Colby Birchfield and Noah Arnett. The ‘Landers should look to do what they have done best behind a solid offensive line. Cloudland should take some shots with the throws game, but should continue to use the running game that has got them where they are this season – especially on a wet and sloppy night.
Key for Unaka: Establish the passing game
Depending on who you listen to, wet conditions is a good thing or a bad thing for the passing game. However, Cloudland teams been able to move the ball through the air all season against Cloudland, and it will be important for the Rangers to try and do the same.
If Unaka can get the passing game going, it will open up the run game for the quarterbacks – Blake King and John Ramsey – as well as Micah Hunt. With dangerous wideouts, the passing game could be crucial for Unaka.
Hampton (5-0) at Happy Valley (3-2), Warrior Hill
The Bulldogs continued their roll last week against Cloudland, while Happy Valley looked confident in a decisive victory at Unaka. These two teams may be the hottest teams in the county.
It will be a battle to see whose offense can exert their dominance as well as who can control the line of scrimmage. Hampton has looked nothing but impressive this season, and Happy Valley has looked solid after shaking off a slow start.
Key for Hampton: Establish control of the line of scrimmage – offensively and defensively
The Bulldogs offense has been rolling all season, and a big part of that has been the offensive line. However, Hampton will need to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball to keep the offense rolling, and limit the Warrior attack of Mookie Madison, Sage Haun and Dylan Street.
Key for Happy Valley: Limit the Hampton offense
The Hampton offense is averaging 52.6 point per game (second in the state only to 1A Union City). The Warriors will need to limit the opportunities of Hampton. Setting the tempo and shortening the game could go along way for Jason Jarrett’s squad to limit the Bulldogs as the attack led by Coby Jones, Jerry Lunsford and Adam McClain will find a way to score.
Pigeon Forge (4-1) at Elizabethton (4-1), Citizen’s Bank Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
When the new realigned conferences came out, this matchup grabbed a lot of attention.
The Cyclones welcome new region foe Pigeon Forge to Citizen’s Bank Stadium as the winner will also take control of their own destiny for the region title. Both teams are 2-0 in conference play. The Cyclones have won four straight after a heartbreaking loss at Science Hill, while Pigeon Forge was upset last Friday by Lenoir City.
Key for Elizabethton: Find an offensive rhythm
The Cyclones need to continue finding their offensive rhythm. Hunter Tyree and the passing game has set the tone for the Cyclones, but with a talented stable of backs lead by Jeremiah Turner and Jalen Smith Elizabethton could become even more dangerous as the season goes on. Behind a strong offensive line, the Cyclones certainly have all the weapons needed for the offensive attack.
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