It’s a renewal of a rivalry between two of the area’s top football programs over the last four decades.
Elizabethton travels to the Stone Castle to take on Tennessee High for these teams’ first meeting since 2008. Kickoff is scheduled for tonight at 7:30.
“We’re excited about getting them back on the schedule,” said Cyclones’ head coach Shawn Witten. “Both places are historic and exciting atmospheres. It’s two programs with somewhat of the same philosophies over a long period of time. This could be a big win for our football team.”
In other contests involving Class AAA teams, Daniel Boone plays host to Sullivan South, David Crockett is the home team against Chuckey-Doak, and Dobyns-Bennett hits the road to battle Ooltewah.
Highlighting the smaller-school schedule is Johnson County traveling to play Hampton. Also, Happy Valley visits Abingdon, Va., and Cloudland is at home to take on Tri-Cities Christian.
Elizabethton (3-1) at Tennessee High (3-1) — The Cyclones have produced three shutouts in four games this season, but it’s unlikely they will be able to completely slow down the Vikings’ high-scoring offense — which is ranked No. 4 in the state at 47.5 points per game.
Leading the way is quarterback Peyton Henley, who has completed 79 percent of his passes, and wide receiver Adam Mitchell, who scored a school-record four receiving touchdowns last week against Sullivan Central.
“I think the experience they have at quarterback and wide receiver gives them the big-play capability,” said Witten. “But they have two complementary receivers, and they do a good job rotating two or three different tailbacks. Their quarterback can run or throw, so they have a lot of versatility.
“You can’t just play the pass. It’s a difficult task. Fortunately we’ve had two weeks to get ready for them.”
For the Cyclones to be successful, they will likely need to a typical game from running back Ethan Thomas.
“We’ve got to get the running game established and have the offensive line do a sound job,” said Witten.
Sullivan South (5-0) at Daniel Boone (3-1) — Even though it’s no longer a conference game, these neighbors still have a heated rivalry.
“Definitely it’s two football communities going at each other,” said Boone head coach Jeremy Jenkins. “It will be an electric atmosphere. They’ve got a lot of athletes and have one of their best teams, if not the best, since the Curt Phillips days.”
Because of South’s offensive prowess — led by quarterback Dylan Wieger, running back Blake Christian and receiver Evan Headrick — ball control could be the Trailblazers’ best friend.
“We need to keep their offense off the field as much as we can,” said Jenkins. “And our defense needs to tackle well in space, and put pressure on the quarterback.”
Being the underdog is no big deal, said Jenkins.
“We’ve been in that role before, and we’ve been on the other side, too,” said Jenkins. “I don’t think that plays into it.”
Chuckey-Doak (3-2) at David Crockett (2-3) — Even though it’s a non-conference contest, this could be a make-or-break game for the Pioneers’ season.
It’s the first of three games where the Pioneers should have at least a 50-50 shot of winning — after going through three games where they gave up 203 points.
Receiver Luke Hopson has been quite a weapon for Crockett, leading the Big Seven Conference with 27 catches and 467 yards.
Dobyns-Bennett (3-2) at Ooltewah (4-1) — Defense will be the key for the Indians against the explosive Owls.
D-B has been pushed around on that side of the ball in its two losses, giving up 33 points to East Hamilton and 34 to Sevier County.
Sullivan Central (2-2) at Sullivan East (1-4) — A win here would keep the Cougars on pace for a potential six-win season, something that hasn’t been accomplished in Blountville in 10 years.
Happy Valley (2-3) at Abingdon, Va. (1-2) — These teams have developed a nice little long-distance rivalry, splitting a pair of hard-fought contests over the last two seasons.
Johnson County (1-3) at Hampton (2-2) — After four years of playing each other twice per season, this rivalry boils down to one shot in 2013.
The Longhorns will have to shake off the effects of last week’s tough loss to Happy Valley while the Bulldogs enter on a two-game winning streak and having two weeks to prepare.
Tri-Cities Christian (2-2) at Cloudland (5-0) — The Eagles have been very competitive in every game, and even upset South Greene in Week 2.
However, the Highlanders are beasts from a different level. Quarterback Austin Whitehead is putting up monster numbers, including 650 yards of total offense (509 rushing and 141 passing) over the last two weeks.