Sometimes Week Zero comes and goes without much fanfare, almost like a handful of extra scrimmages. However, the 2013 version produced its share of bang for the buck.
Here’s a “headline” look at some things that seemed to stand out:
Cyclones can defend their turf
Some preseason talk suggested Elizabethton would have to plead no contest to charges of being unable to slow down opposing offenses.
Post-game talk centered on just how good this defensive unit could be.
A more definitive answer could be delivered Friday as the Cyclones’ defense faces arguably its toughest regular-season test against Science Hill.
Blue Devils finally smiling
The post-game handshakes between Unicoi County and Hampton were dominated by Bulldogs’ smiles for almost a decade.
Finally, Unicoi County did something more than “almost” beat Hampton.
Blue Devils’ receiver Thomas Tipton said his team could put some points on the board this season, and 42 on opening night was good backing for that statement. The return of playmaker receiver Keith Arrowood from injury could make the Blue Devils even more of an offensive threat in a few weeks.
Bosken pioneering a new attitude
It’s just one game and the opponent hadn’t won since 2011.
Still, there was pressure on David Crockett and new head coach Jeremy Bosken to beat Sullivan East soundly because a loss or squeak-by victory might have undermined some of the team’s confidence.
With a foundation set, the Pioneers have a chance to do some masonry work this week.
Beware of ambush by the Indians
Dobyns-Bennett isn’t expected to sniff the levels it reached in 2012. However, a one-point win as a slight underdog against Knox Farragut suggests the Indians could still be a dangerous bunch this year.
Don’t jump on Vikings’ ship — yet
Yes, Tennessee High put a major first-class beat-down on Johnson County, piling up 62 points. But wait until this week’s matchup with Sullivan South before grouping the Vikings with Science Hill and D-B in the Big Seven Conference title picture.
Football games of the week: Elizabethton at Science Hill, David Crockett at Unicoi County, Tennessee High at Sullivan South, Cloudland at Happy Valley.
Cyclones vs. Hilltoppers — Playmakers will be plentiful for both offenses, so the team that makes the biggest defensive plays should have the upper hand.
Pioneers vs. Blue Devils — One of these teams is going to be beating their chests and making a lot of noise because of a 2-0 start. And since both teams face significantly more difficult challenges the following week, the loser will have to chase away some doubts.
Vikings vs. Rebels — This game takes on an entirely different meaning since they are no longer league mates. However, both teams could be on track for a memorable season.
Highlanders vs. Warriors — This time the Warriors get to be the bully on the block. One problem: the Highlanders tend to fight back.
Pick of the Week — Science Hill 27, Elizabethton 21.
The Hilltoppers’ offense will be quite different from what the Cyclones saw in Week Zero. Both teams have their share of playmakers, but Malik McGue could be the best one on the field.
Picks record: 1-0.
Player of the week — Ethan Thomas of Elizabethton.
Not only did the junior running back start the counter toward a second straight 2,000-yard season, he also authored one of the more memorable runs in recent history.
Thomas’ 42-yard touchdown power rip through Daniel Boone’s defense highlighted a 35-0 win for the Cyclones. Thomas finished with 224 yards on 16 carries and scored a pair of TDs, including a 41-yarder.
The Hogs Award — Elizabethton Cyclones.
In an earth-moving, road-grading performance, the “Clone Hogs” manhandled Boone for 401 yards rushing on 44 attempts, an average of 9.1 per carry.
Also, the Hogs built a fortress around their quarterbacks, allowing five completions in seven attempts for 71 percent.
Defensive unit of the week — Elizabethton Cyclones.
Capping off the rare trio dominance of weekly awards, the Cyclones’ defenders blitzed Daniel Boone into submission.
Elizabethton held Boone to 95 yards rushing on 38 attempts, an average of 2.5 per carry. After a 29-yard gain on the first play, Boone was held to 1.8 yards per attempt.
Boone completed all four of its pass attempts, but only totaled 12 yards and got sacked more times (5) than it got a pass off.
Elizabethton also forced four punts, had a tackle for loss on a fake punt and came up with a fumble recovery.
Prep signings: Science Hill’s Allison Woodward will be taking her golf talents to the Division I level.
The Hilltoppers’ senior has accepted a scholarship offer from the Lady Hokies and plans to sign in November.
Prep spotlight: Area coaches can submit standout performances for girls soccer, volleyball, cross country and golf to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline is Sunday at midnight.
This Week in Prep History — August 31, 1990.
Michael Bullins threw touchdown passes to Toby Patton, Charles Love and Steve Taylor to help Science Hill record a 28-0 victory over Unicoi County in the season opener for both teams.
Science Hill’s defense limited Unicoi to 79 yards of total offense.
It’s time to play the guessing game as it usually takes a couple of contests to figure who is pretending or who might be contending.
That being said, here’s the first Prep Top 10 of the season. Science Hill gets the benefit of the doubt based on expectations of a Big Seven Conference championship season:
1. Science Hill 0-0
2. Greeneville 0-0
3. Dobyns-Bennett 1-0
4. Sullivan South 1-0
5. Tennessee High 1-0
6. Elizabethton 1-0
7. Sullivan North 0-1
8. Happy Valley 1-0
9. David Crockett 1-0
10. Unicoi County 1-0
(tie) Daniel Boone 0-1