‘Landers take on novice squad at Homecoming game

Published 9:17 am Friday, September 18, 2015

Star File Photo Austin Whitehead calls out a play before receiving the snap.

Star File Photo
Austin Whitehead calls out a play before receiving the snap.

Some teams might look at an opponent like Concord Christian — a first-year, and thus far winless program — and think ‘easy win’, but don’t tell that to Cloudland head coach Brock Pittman or any of his players.
The Highlanders (3-1 overall, 1-0 conference) host the Concord Christian Lions (0-3, 0-1) on Friday evening at Orr Field which also happens to be Homecoming as well.
“We don’t talk about wins or losses at Cloudland,” Pittman said. “We don’t have any easy games, especially when we are the size we are. We are always preparing for our next opponent. Whatever happened last week doesn’t matter a bit this week, and who your opponent played last week doesn’t matter.
“This is a conference game and we are trying to win a championship. I think we have a good chance to win our conference, but we have to win it. Football is a mindset, and every game has its own story.”
And that mindset will be set to winning this contest and getting to 2-0 in their new conference, which is as of yet unnamed and extending to a four game win streak overall.
Last week Cloudland upended Avery County (N.C.) 36-29 but coach Pittman was not overly enthusiastic about that performance saying, “We have to do a better job in pass coverage. Most of it is fixable, but we have to find a way to put pressure on the quarterback. We can’t just let these guys stand in there. We let a lot of opportunities get away last week. Most of the yardage made last week was yards after catch, so when you get two hands on a guy you better bring him down.”
Cloudland’s offense has been prolific all season not once scoring less than 30 points in any game and that has been due to great blocking up front from the ‘Landers offensive line. They pave the way for senior quarterback Austin Whitehead and senior tailback Colby Birchfield to gain a lot of yards.
Guys like junior OL Noah Blair, Dakota Johnson, James Arwood and others have made the Cloudland running game one of the most prolific in the area with both Whitehead and Birchfield each likely to gain 1,000 yards on the ground.
When assessing the opponent for Friday night Birchfield said, “They are a new team, Concord Christian, but we can’t take them lightly. We have to be prepared and do the best we can. We are just trying to get the job done. If the time comes and we have a lead I am sure coach will get us a breather, but we can’t be worried about that.”
Concord Christian is coached by Troy Fleming – a highly thought of player from the University of Tennessee – where he was a star fullback from 2000-04. Fleming got his prep experience at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin and was a two time Division II Mr. Football before signing with the Vols.
He later was a 2004 sixth round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans for whom he played two seasons before his release in 2006.
“His name is all over the Tennessee record books,” said Pittman of his coaching opponent. “And deservedly so. From what I have seen of them on film is they run a lot of unbalanced fronts and we don’t want to get in situations where we are outnumbered on a side.”
So far this season Concord Christian has scored 20 points offensively while surrendering 134, while the ‘Landers have averaged 33 points-per-game and over 350 yards of total offense per game so the Lions are going to have their work cut out for them trying to stop the Cloudland offensive attack.
“Everything that we have had a problem with so far is fixable,” Pittman said. “Like I said, it is a mindset and it is a marathon not a sprint. You get wore out if you get into a different mindset than that.”
Game time is 7:30 pm.

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