But that’s exactly where the Chiefs and Cyclones stand. Class 5A Cherokee (5-0) travels to take on Class 4A Elizabethton (4-0) on Friday night at Citizens Bank Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30.
“Cherokee is playing confident football,” said Elizabethton head coach Shawn Witten. “It’s a big game for both teams at the halfway point of the season.”
The Chiefs started the season with three close victories, but followed with blowouts of Morristown West and Volunteer.
Elizabethton had a close game against Science Hill in its opener, but the other three wins were three-touchdown margins or greater.
Cherokee boasts quarterback Collin Trent, who has accounted for 1,296 yards of total offense (864 passing) and 19 touchdowns (11 rushing).
“Our defense has to prevent the big play,” said Witten. “Collin Trent is playing inspired football. We have to keep them in long-yardage situations. We need to make them one-dimensional.”
Other threats for the Chiefs include Trent Price (278 yards rushing), Jonas Leeper (231 receiving yards) and Connor Smith (218 yards receiving).
Elizabethton counters with quarterback Bryson Rollins, who has 802 total yards and 10 touchdown passes. Running back Cade Maupin (439 yards rushing, 5 scores) and receiver Parker Hughes (242 yards, 6 scores) are also threats.
“They have some really talented skill guys who play behind a very physical offensive line,” said Chiefs’ head coach Cody Baugh. “We have to get some takeaways, and do whatever we need to do to get their offense off of the field. It will be a challenge for us.”
Baugh said his team must take care of the football.
“They have forced several turnovers this season,” he said. “Their defensive line plays physical. They are always well coached. We have to sustain drives to be successful.”
Witten said his team’s offense must be a dominant factor.
“Our offense has to control the game,” he said.