When Daniel Boone travels to Elizabethton tonight, the two teams will enter the season having combined for 39 wins over the past two years.
The Cyclones have won 20 while the Trailblazers total 19.
“We hope it will be a quality game,” said Boone head coach Jeremy Jenkins. “There will be a crowd, and it will be a good test for both teams.”
Kickoff for the battle between the Class 3A Cyclones and the Class 5A ‘Blazers is set for 7:30 p.m.
Elizabethton leads the all-time series 24-1. However, Boone won the last meeting, a 35-28 playoff decision in 2005.
In other games involving Big Eight teams, David Crockett plays host to Sullivan East, Dobyns-Bennett visits Knox Farragut, Tennessee High is at home to take on Johnson County, Sullivan South travels to play Enka, N.C., and Volunteer is at home to battle Sullivan North.
Also, Sullivan Central was supposed to have a home opener, but the game against Happy Valley has been moved to the Warriors’ field because the Cougars’ field is not ready after being redone.
In other games, Unicoi County plays host to South Greene, Unaka has a home game against Chuckey-Doak, Cloudland travels to play Andrews, N.C., North Greene is at home to play Tri-Cities Christian, and West Greene plays host to Cherokee.
Defense has always been a calling card for Daniel Boone. In 17 of its last 25 games, the Trailblazers have allowed 14 or fewer points and 11 of those were single-digit performances.
“Boone is really sound and Jeremy does a great job with his defense,” said Elizabethton head coach Shawn Witten. “They are tough and physical, and tough to run against. We’ve got to spread the ball around and use all of our weapons.”
And those weapons are plentiful, said Jenkins, including quarterback McKenly Berry and running back Terrence Turner.
“Coach Witten does a good job of getting the ball to all of them,” said Jenkins. “You start with Turner and Berry, and I really like their fullback (Luke Nidiffer). We’ve got to tackle well and nullify the big play, and make them earn their drives.”
When Boone has the ball, Elizabethton will be focused on running back Cliff Sanders.
“I think we have to stop Sanders,” said Witten. “Boone likes to run the football, so we’ve got to tackle well and not give up the big play early.”
Jenkins said Elizabethton’s defensive line looks good.
“I was really impressed watching them scrimmage how they got to the ball, especially their down linemen,” said Jenkins. “Their ends and linebackers can really move.”
Witten said his team has been focused on having the special teams ready for prime time.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are game-changers on special teams,” said Witten. “We work on it from the start of summer camp. It’s about being solid and not giving up a punt return or a blocked kick.”
Witten said he thinks his bunch is ready.
“It’s something the guys have prepared for all summer,” he said. “It should be an exciting game.”
Sullivan East at David Crockett - The Pioneers have won three of their last five openers, including two wins against the Patriots.
Because both of these teams are looking up at others in their own leagues, this is an important stepping stone for the season.
Happy Valley at Sullivan Central - Expectations are high for the Warriors, who would like to get their triple-option offense off to a roaring start.
The Warriors have won their last two season openers while Central has lost 45 of its last 50 games overall.
Dobyns Bennett at Knox Farragut - These teams have traded whippings over the last two years, so perhaps this year’s game could come down to the wire between these perennial playoff powers.
Johnson County at Tennessee High - It has the appearance of what could be a long night for the Longhorns. Not only is Johnson County young and inexperienced, new Vikings’ head coach Shane Boggs will be looking to make a good first impression.
Sullivan North at Volunteer - It could be a tough evening for the Falcons because the Raiders usually come out of the gates smoking. Over the last three years, North is 12-0 in its first four games - including two wins over Volunteer.
Sullivan South at Enka, N.C. - The Rebels step outside the state for a game against the Jets, who went 4-8 last season.
South Greene at Unicoi County - This is the seventh straight season opener between these schools, and the Rebels have won five of the previous six.
Both teams enter with something to prove, especially Unicoi, which has lost 35 of its last 38 games overall.
Cloudland at Andrews, N.C. - It’s a long bus ride for the Highlanders, who will battle a Wildcats’ team that went 4-5 last season.
Tri-Cities Christian at North Greene - It’s the debut of full-season 11-man football for the Eagles while the Huskies seek their first season-opening win since 2005.
Chuckey-Doak at Unaka - This is the seventh straight season-opening meeting between these teams, and the Black Knights - heavily favored this year - have won four times.
Cherokee at West Greene - The Buffaloes, who are 14-8 over the last two seasons, seek their fourth straight season-opening win.