Yellow Jackets sting Cloudland in second round

Published 11:31 pm Friday, November 11, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                           Coalfield quarterback Parker McKinney scored on offense and defense in the Yellow Jackets win. Pictured, McKinney looks to get past Cloudland's Dawson Haynes (#57).

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Coalfield quarterback Parker McKinney scored on offense and defense in the Yellow Jackets win. Pictured, McKinney looks to get past Cloudland’s Dawson Haynes (#57).

Parker McKinney did the damage early and often for the Yellow Jackets.
Making the three-hour trip to Roan Mountain, Coalfield was able to smother the Cloudland with a loaded offensive attack to score a 54-14 victory at Orr Field to advance in the third round of the TSSAA Class A playoffs.
“We challenge our kids every week,” Keith Henry said. “To be a better player, the day you step on the practice field to when you step off. Make it that second season … everyone is 0-0. That’s what you’re working for and you want to peak at the right time. We’ve done that. Our young men have responded well. Tonight was a real physical ball game but that’s a part of football. We got a big challenge ahead of us next week with Greenback. They’ve been ranked in the state and got us early in the year. But we’re going to ready for the trip next week.”
Led behind the arm and wheels of McKinney, the Yellow Jackets (11-1) were able to muster 40 points in the first half over the Highlanders (5-7).
“We made a couple of mistakes and we knew we couldn’t do that against them,” Cloudland head coach Mike Lunsford said. “We had to do everything perfect. We dropped an interception early … we played man-two over the top. They ran the ball, that’s was our game plan to make them (do it), but they were a little bit better at it than we anticipated. We couldn’t stop them from running we were doing that, we did a good job stopping the pass out of that but we couldn’t stop the rest of their stuff.
“We then went to a four to try to stop the run, and they were to good at passing for us stop that,” Lunsford continued. “They’re a good football team. It was just a tough night for us, but our kids played hard. They showed a lot of character.”
Malachi Benfield made things interesting with his feet and through the air prior to the half connecting with Brinkley Mull on a series of passes. Mull (5 catches, 72 yards) hauled in a jump ball in the corner of the end zone to help his team cut into the lead, 40-8, at half.
While the Yellow Jackets scored twice in the second half, the Highlanders wouldn’t balk with Noah Arnett (21 carries, 94 yards) punching in a rushing touchdown in the third.
“Give a lot of credit to coach Lunsford, his coaching staff and his kids,” Henry said. “He’s done a great job for years and years whether it is here or at Hampton. Mike does a great job and he’s got this program going. They’re only going to get better and better, but everyone knows that.”
Benfield finished 6-of-13 for 73 yards through the air while Josh Blair and Hayden Houston went over 30 yards apiece on the ground.
Cloudland wrapped up the 2016 season with a conference championship and tacked on an exciting first round win over Harriman last week. With the change in culture, Lunsford credited his seniors for their work.
“They’re going to be missed,” Lunsford said of the senior class. “We played a lot of seniors, four of the offensive linemen were seniors. They all really improved from the beginning of the year to the end, a lot. They’re going to be sorely missed, they’re a great group of kids.”

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