This week’s games
All games begin at 7:30 p.m.
Happy Valley at Elizabethton
Chuckey-Doak at Claiborne
Dobyns-Bennett at Sullivan South
Science Hill at Sullivan Central
Volunteer at Daniel Boone
Tennessee High at David Crockett
Johnson County at Unicoi County
Sullivan North at Sullivan East
Hampton at Cosby
Cloudland at Hancock County
North Greene at Unaka
Franklin County at Greeneville
South Greene at Cumberland Gap
West Greene at Grainger
With plenty of kids for both teams having played in the other program, this year’s Happy Valley-Elizabethton matchup will be extra spicy for some folks.
“I’m sure it does add some spice,” said Cyclones’ head coach Shawn Witten. “You’re talking about teenagers and kids who want to perform against their old team. But we’re not worried about that. We just want to let our play do the talking.”
The two close rivals will face off in the Three Rivers Conference football season opener tonight at Rider Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30.
In other area games, moved up a night to avoid conflict with the University of Tennessee season opener Friday, Dobyns-Bennett visits Sullivan South, and Chuckey-Doak is at Claiborne.
Former Cyclones who will be wearing Warriors’ gear tonight are receiver Drew Holsclaw, linebacker Stephen Holtsclaw and running back Caleb Lee.
On the flip side, Elizabethton has linemen Andrew Byers and Tyler Hubbard, quarterback D.J. Arnett, who attended Happy Valley as a freshman, and running back Caleb Jones.
“Transfers happen in every school in every state,” said Warriors’ head coach Larry Shively. “But I’m sure some kid who grew up in the Elizabethton City schools will have a little more fire in his eyes when he plays against them. And I’m sure for those who grew up in Happy Valley, this game will mean a lot to them.
“But I don’t buy into it. You should be as fired up for Elizabethton as anybody else.”
Happy Valley is 1-1 on the season while the Cyclones enter in need of a win after losses to Daniel Boone and Science Hill left them at 0-2. However, Witten said there’s no added pressure.
“We’ve played right where we’ve needed to play,” said Witten. “I can’t ask for any better effort. But any time you are 0-2, the short week helps. You get back on the field and try to get a win.”
Said Shively, “They have a good football team. They may be the best 0-2 team in the state.”
Neither enters with an overwhelming passing presence. However, the Cyclones have displayed a very tough ground game so far.
Ethan Thomas has rushed for 282 yards in two games to lead the Elizabethton ground attack.
“They are competent enough in the passing game to get behind you,” said Shively. “They can lull you to sleep. But it’s like a running back factory on G Street. They are all good, and they’re all dangerous.”
Happy Valley will get a boost by the return of five players who were suspended last week for various reasons.
“We’re back at full strength,” said Shively. “A lot of kids paid the price, and it was a painful lesson.”
The Warriors will have the Cyclones’ defense guessing because they’ve run two different offenses in two games. They started with their standard triple option, but went with a shotgun formation against Unaka and passed 15 times.
“We’re prepared for both offenses,” said Witten. “We’re pretty disciplined defending the run, and we’ve stuffed it pretty good. But they can spread it out, and we’ve worked on both.”
Dobyns-Bennett (2-0) at Sullivan South (1-0) — The Indians will try to continue a dominance that runs back to 1993.
D-B has won 16 straight from the Rebels with many of them in blowout fashion. Last year the Indians won 63-21.