But both teams must deal with the tasks at hand before meeting each other and Greeneville.
On Friday night, the Cyclones will play host to Grainger in a Touchdowns Against Cancer game while the Rebels will entertain Sullivan Central. In another league contest, Sullivan East hits the road to battle Union County.
Here’s a look at those games along with the smaller-school contests. All games are scheduled for kickoff at 7:30.
GRAINGER (0-1, 2-2) at ELIZABETHTON (1-0, 3-0)
The Cyclones have handled the Grizzlies over the last two seasons, outscoring them 105-6.
Elizabethton head coach Shawn Witten said his team will have to be prepared for Grainger’s style of play.
“It’s another wing-T type team,” said Witten. “They force you to play disciplined defense and tackle well.”
When the Cyclones have the ball, Witten said he wants his team to continue to spread the football around and make the most of possessions.
Elizabethton has been run heavy this season with a 78-percent ground attack.
“We continue to work to be balanced,” said Witten. “We like what the offensive line is getting done in the run game, and we’ve leaned on them and tried to keep them in a groove. But we have great receivers who need to get more in the game plan.”
This is a “Go Gold” game for Elizabethton’s participation in Touchdowns Against Cancer, which raises money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Elizabethton currently ranks first in the state of Tennessee with $1,060 raised. The school is No. 17 in the nation. Gold buckets will be passed out at the game for more donations with 100 percent of the money going to St. Jude.
SULLIVAN CENTRAL (0-0, 1-2) at SULLIVAN SOUTH (1-0, 2-2)
The Rebels enter as a solid favorite, but head coach Justin Hilton said the Cougars have plenty of ability.
“Offensively their skill players are talented,” said Hilton. “Their quarterback (Will Nottingham) is a good athlete with a good arm. Defensively Nick Harrison is a good player, and they play hard as a collective defensive group.”
The Rebels will lean on the terrific running of Julian Reed, who has rushed for 745 yards and scored nine touchdowns in four games.
“Julian has worked hard to get stronger, and he has benefited from a veteran offensive line,” said Hilton. “We have quite a bit of youth at the other offensive skill positions, so Julian’s leadership has been instrumental.”
SULLIVAN EAST (0-1, 0-3) at UNION COUNTY (0-1, 1-3)
After losing games by one point and three points this season, the Patriots are hungry for their first win.
They could have a shot against the other Patriots, who have been held to six points or fewer in three of their four games. Unfortunately for East, those three opponents (Cherokee, Greeneville and Knox Halls) have a combined record of 11-1. And Union racked up 54 points in its lone victory.
JOHNSON CONTY (0-1, 1-2) at WEST GREENE (1-0, 2-1)
Facing a two-game losing streak and the potential of falling out of the region title chase, the Longhorns have their backs against the wall.
West Greene was strong in its first two games, but lost 34-0 to Class 2A county rival South Greene last week.
CLAIBORNE (0-1, 2-2) at UNICOI COUNTY (1-0, 2-2)
The Blue Devils have righted their ship after starting with a pair of losses, but they shouldn’t take the Bulldogs for granted.
Claiborne has scored 28, 45, 28, and 54 points this season, proving to be a stout offensive team. Unicoi, which has totaled 100 points over the last two weeks, may have to outscore Claiborne.
HAPPY VALLEY (1-0, 3-1) at COSBY (0-1, 1-3)
The Warriors don’t have time to lament their five-touchdown bruising at the hands of Unicoi County last week as they dip back into region play.
Cosby scored at least 26 points in its first three games, but crashed hard in last week’s 50-7 blitzing by Midway.
SOUTH GREENE (0-0, 4-0) at Sullivan North (1-0, 3-1)
The Raiders must get off the deck after last week’s four-touchdown loss to Chuckey-Doak, and it won’t be easy against the league favorite.
Easily handling each of its first four opponents, including Class 5A Cocke County and a pair of Class 3A foes, the Rebels are averaging 39 points per game while also authoring a shutout and a seven-point performance on defense.
Levi Myers and Luke Myers are the Rebels’ top offensive threats in a tough-to-stop ground attack.
CLOUDLAND (0-0, 0-3) at HANCOCK COUNTY (1-0, 2-2)
The Indians are averaging 37 points per game, so it’s a challenge for the Highlanders. Cloudland has totaled an average of only nine points per contest.
The good news is Cloudland hasn’t lost to Hancock since 2011, and the seven straight wins have all been blowouts.
UNAKA (0-1, 1-3) at JELLICO (0-0, 2-1)
The Rangers haven’t had any trouble putting points on the board, but stopping the opposition has proven difficult.
Unaka is averaging 33 points per game while surrendering 41. And Jellico has scored 67 points in its last two games, a pair of victories.