CAK’s High looms large for Cyclones

Douglas Fritz • Nov 19, 2012 at 7:05 PM

If Elizabethton is going to defeat Christian Academy of Knoxville in Friday’s Class 3A state semifinal playoff game, the Cyclones better plan on scoring some points.

Here are CAK quarterback Charlie High’s passing yardage totals this season: 505, 440, 432, 313, 297, 338, 242, 271, 336, 273, 303, 190 and 374. It adds up to 4,314 yards and 48 touchdowns with just seven interceptions.

For his career, High has thrown for over 10,134 yards. He is closing in on the state record of 10,519.

Receiver Davis Howell has 118 catches on the season. To put that in perspective, Elizabethton has only 163 receptions as a team — for the last two years combined.

Expect the defending state champion Warriors to take advantage of any opportunity to get the ball to the 6-2, 191-pound senior. Howell has 333 catches for his high school career, breaking the state record by more than 100 catches.

He is just 16 receptions short of tying the all-time national mark set from 2005-2008 by Ben Wonderly of Sherwood (Ohio) Fairview.

Think 16 catches in one game is a stretch? Howell has produced totals of 13 receptions three times this season, including last week against Alcoa. Howell has 1,589 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns on the season.

If the Cyclones think about double-teaming Howell — or perhaps triple-teaming him — they could get humbled by Franklin Murchison (70 catches for 915 yards and 14 touchdowns) or Josh Smith, whose 51 catches for 960 yards and 12 touchdowns would be an historic season at just about any school in Northeast Tennessee.

Smith has more catches and nearly twice as many yards as Elizabethton’s entire team.

Are the Warriors one-dimensional? Well, they are 64 percent pass, but they have a 1,000-yard rusher in Corey Rathbone, who averages seven yards per carry.

And Rathbone is a finisher, big time. He has scored 26 touchdowns — or one every 6.2 carries.

So to describe CAK, it’s this: air first, air second, and run third, if needed.

In a contrast of styles, Elizabethton is 87 percent run. The Cyclones have totaled 4,139 of their 4,690 yards on the ground.

Sophomore Ethan Thomas has enjoyed a massive season with 1,899 yards on 244 carries. He averages 7.8 yards per attempt, has scored 16 touchdowns, and has gained at least 100 yards in every game except for one blowout playoff win where he only had eight carries.

The Cyclones have another 1,000-yard rusher in Terrence Turner, a senior who has scored 23 touchdowns and gained 2,343 yards over the last two seasons.

The Cyclones have a shot in this one, but only if they control the line of scrimmage, run the football effectively and consistently, and eat clock.

But at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to the Cyclones’ secondary. Against High and his air-force fleet, defenders like Zach Moore, Markus Olds, Eric Carter and Turner will have to play their best games of the season.

The defensive line will need to get some good pressure on High without big blitzes. Everyone else will be needed in the passing lanes, trying to a tip a pass, or knock one down, or pick one off.

“I just think there aren’t many teams in high school that have the passing attack CAK has,” said Cyclones’ head coach Shawn Witten. “It’s not just a simple passing attack. They cover every route tree in the book. They have running backs in the passing routes.”

And the Cyclones have to defend it just one week after going against the non-pass wing-T offense. Remember last week’s practice guys? OK, forget it.


Elizabethton lost two key players to injuries in last week’s thrilling 41-38 overtime win over Sullivan North, but both of them returned before the game was over.

Zach Moore suffered a minor leg injury while Terrence Turner got hit with some cramping in his calf. Turner missed a big chunk of the second half, but both players were back on defense for the overtime series.

Moore and Turner are expected to play against CAK.


Dobyns-Bennett’s football team posted a top-10 all-time finish for points scored in a season. However, the Indians could get bumped in the next couple of weeks.

D-B’s total of 630 points is tied for the No. 10 spot with Alcoa’s 2007 team.

However, CAK is knocking at the door with 591 points. The Warriors will play Elizabethton in this week’s semifinals, and need only 40 points to win this year’s state scoring title and bump the Indians from the No. 10 position. CAK is averaging 45 points a game, and would get an additional game with a win over the Cyclones.

Here are this season’s top 15 teams in scoring across the state (through Week 13):

Team Class Pts

1. Dobyns-Bennett 6A 630

2. CAK 3A 591

3. Cheatham County 3A 579

4. Knoxville Fulton 4A 568

5. Giles County 4A 557

6. Murf. Siegel 6A 547

7. Maryville 6A 544

8. Lexington 4A 543

9. Mem. Whitehaven 6A 531

10. Covington 4A 530

11. Friendship Christian 2A 528

12. Hend. Beech 5A 515

13. Science Hill 6A 508

14. East Hamilton 4A 503

15. DeKalb County 4A 495


Football playoff odds: Class 3A — CAK by 6 over Elizabethton, Christ Presbyterian Academy by 14 over Milan.

In each of the three seasons of six-classification football, the east semifinal winner has gone on to capture the Class 3A state title. This year could be different with undefeated CPA potentially waiting for the CAK-Elizabethton winner.


Pick of the Week — Christian Academy of Knoxville 44, Elizabethton 31.

It’s not difficult to imagine the Cyclones moving the football and putting some points on the board against a CAK defense that has allowed over 30 points eight times this year.

However, CAK has scored over 40 points nine times this season, and over 50 points five times.

Picks record: 13-1.


Player of the week — Ethan Thomas of Elizabethton.

Not only was the sophomore a workhorse, he was also a big-play guy in his team’s 41-38 overtime win over Sullivan North in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.

Thomas carried 27 times for 255 yards, including an 86-yard dash to give his team a 35-20 lead with 3:39 left in the game. He had two touchdowns, and set up the game-winner with a nine-yard run to the 1-yard line on the Cyclones’ first offensive snap in the overtime period.


Chuckey-Doak running back Bryce Malone and Greeneville linebacker Tyrus Rollins shared the football player of the year honor for the Blue Ridge Conference.

West Greene’s Jaylynn Kesterson was picked as the defensive player of the year. Greeneville’s Lincoln Taylor earned the special teams honor. Caine Ballard of Greeneville was picked as the coach of the year.


Board of Control update: The girls state soccer tournament has been moved from Chattanooga to Murfreesboro.

During the TSSAA Board of Control meeting last week, the organization voted to put the event at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro. That is the same site as the boys state tournaments during the Spring Fling. ...

The Board denied Sullivan Central’s appeal to have its enrollment figures changed to a lower amount. Central was trying to be classified in AA instead of its current AAA status. ...

District assignments were locked in for the next four years with 1-AAA being comprised of Daniel Boone, David Crockett, Dobyns-Bennett, Science Hill, Sullivan Central, Tennessee High and Volunteer. In 1-AA, it’s Elizabethton, Happy Valley, Johnson County, Sullivan East, Sullivan North, Sullivan South and Unicoi County.

And in 1-A, the league is Cloudland, Hampton, North Greene, South Greene, Unaka and University High.


Holiday Hoops: Tennessee High’s girls will once again kick-start the tournament atmosphere at Viking Hall with the 15th annual Doc Maples Holiday Hoops Invitational from Dec. 20-22.

This year’s field includes Volunteer, Nashville Pearl-Cohn and Knox Bearden. Also in the mix is Dutch Fork, S.C., which boasts 6-4 post Alaina Coates, one of the country’s top prospects.

Providence Academy sets its sights on a solid season in 2012-13. The Knights are coming off a 15-11 campaign, and return two starters in Blake Tyree (5-11, Sr., guard) and Jake Weaver (5-9, Jr., guard).

Head coach Martin Sells, who has 435 career victories, said strengths are shooting, speed and depth. However, size and ballhandling could be issues.

“We will play the hardest schedule in school history” said Sells, who mentioned Sullivan East, Hampton and Cloudland as tough foes. “This year’s team brings a good work ethic to practice every day.”

As for the Lady Knights, head coach Mike Cash has four returning starters from last year’s 17-8 squad.

Back in the lineup are Natalie Smith (5-10, Sr., post), Sue Ellen Harrod (5-5, Jr., guard), McKennon Trujillo (5-5, So., guard) and McKenzie Trujillo (5-5, So., guard).

“We play a tough schedule and look forward to these challenges each year,” said Cash. “We have smart players with good fundamentals, both offensively and defensively. As coach, it is my goal for all my players to grow physically as basketball players and spiritually as Christians.”


Prep signings: Science Hill is sending yet another athlete into the college ranks. Sidney Bailey made her choice official Monday as she signed to play soccer at Milligan College. …

Ryan Flick made it official last week. The Sullivan East baseball standout signed to play collegiately for Tennessee Tech. …

Tennessee High girls basketball standout Ashlee Mitchell will get a chance at the next level.

Entering her fourth season as a standout for the Lady Vikings, Mitchell signed with Virginia Commonwealth last week.


This Week in Prep History — November 20, 1998.

After getting outgained 495-140 in their regular season meeting, the Cyclones made a stunning 626-yard turnaround and pounded Greeneville 43-14 in the Class 4A state quarterfinals.

Isolated on running back Jasmine Lowery, Elizabethton’s Jason Witten — who missed the first game against Greeneville because of an injury — helped hold the Greene Devils’ star to 44 total yards. Lowery had 275 in the first contest.

Quarterback Shawn Witten completed 11 of 18 passes for 201 yards while running back Johnnie Duval totaled 104 yards on 11 carries.

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