Cloudland to finish regular season at Knox Catholic

Published 8:52 am Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Cloudland Highlanders will make the trip over to Knox Catholic where they will play their toughest opponent of the season yet.

The Irish is a state champion team that is currently ranked first in 4A ball, and Highlanders head coach Mike Lunsford knows that Cloudland will have their hands full come Friday night.

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“This is a different animal,” Lunsford said. “We will just have to do the best we can do. We are going to play as hard as we. The kids are going to give it their full effort.

“They (Catholic) have kids going to SEC schools and all over,” Lunsford said. “It is hard to keep the kids focused. We can’t worry about how good they are.”

The Highlanders’ will be coming into Friday night’s contest after topping Hancock County 40-8 last Friday. Cloudland’s win over Hancock allowed the Highlanders to clinch the Region 1-1A title for the second year in a row.

“We lost a lot of kids from last year,” Lunsford said. “Several teams had a lot coming back. That was a goal that we had. I wasn’t sure how we would do on that. We had hoped thing would go our way.

“We had to play Oakdale early, and that was a scary game because of how close last year’s game was,” Lunsford continued. “This year our boys came through with a win over Oakdale and anytime you can win the conference championship it is a good thing.”

During last week’s contest, Cloudland lost its starting quarterback, Preston Benfield, who is out for the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury. The Highlanders will now turn to Malachi Benfield, Preston’s younger brother, to take over the spot.

“I expect Malachi to do a good job,” Lunsford said. “We have worked with him all year. He had a set back when he broke his arm little bit further back. That slowed his development down a little bit. He is getting there. He is developing into a natural thrower, and I think he will do fine.”

After Knox Catholic, Cloudland will enter its bye week before beginning play in the playoffs.

Friday night’s kickoff is at 7: 30 p.m.