Corey Russell and Carter Everett will likely play key roles in how far the Cyclones go.
The senior duo set the stage nicely for their final high school season. Over the last two years, they have combined to produce 9,945 yards and 120 touchdowns.
Everett has racked up 4,979 yards passing and running with 64 total touchdowns while Russell has accumulated 4,966 all-purpose and passing yards with 56 total scores.
Elizabethton head coach Shawn Witten said Everett, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound quarterback, has grown up through the years.
“He has faced a lot of adversity,” said Witten. “He played through an injury last year, and his season came to an end early when he was a sophomore.”
This year, Witten said Everett needs to be sharp.
“His decision making has to be great this year,” said Witten. “His accuracy has to be pinpoint.”
And Everett must be a leader, Witten said.
“He’s the captain of our ship,” said Witten. “He has to make this thing go. He has to get us in a flow and get the game started. He needs to get people involved. We have to be in a rhythm where we are pass protecting and spreading the ball around.”
Everett has been good at finding open receivers and getting the ball out of his hand on time, but one area Everett could improve his overall game is in the mobility department.
“He has to be able to move his feet,” said Witten. “He can’t be a big statue back there. He has to move around and make things happen, and be a focal point of our offense. He has to make the throws, and make the plays.”
Experience-wise, Everett has that area covered like a blanket.
“He has been around here, and he probably knows me better than anybody,” said Witten. “He has played in big games and thrived in big games. We will go as far as he takes us.”
There aren’t many things the 5-10, 175-pound running back can’t do. He won’t play offensive or defensive line, but that probably covers the extent of what he won’t be asked to do.
Witten said he would like to see Russell expand his game even more.
“He can change the game in a split second,” said Witten. “We have to do a good job of game planning to get him the ball and move him around.
“That means sometimes lining him up at quarterback, too. Him and Carter have a great relationship. Corey’s dynamic playmaking ability at quarterback makes a difference. You can do so many things because of his feet, and he has a great arm, too. Also, he’s smart with his decision making.”
Witten said the Cyclones need to make sure Russell has room to operate.
“We can’t just say he’s going to break this tackle,” said Witten. “We’ve got to get some misdirection plays, and do some things where we can get him out in space.”
This year, Witten said Russell will also see more time on the defensive side at cornerback.
“I think we can’t rely on him so much on the offensive side,” said Witten. “We’ve got to get him involved on defense. He’s always around the ball. He’s a ballhawk.”
Of course, Witten said he also wants to see Russell get a chance to take the ball to the house as a kick returner.
“We have to get him more involved in the kicking game and make him more dynamic,” said Witten.