Local teams turn attention to state playoffs

Published 8:33 am Wednesday, October 31, 2018

It’s win or go home time.

This Friday, local teams will begin their playoff journeys with all of them eyeing a chance to make it to TSSAA State Championships.

Three of Carter County’s teams will be at home while one hits the road.

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Class 2A Playoffs: Happy Valley

(5-5) at Oneida (7-3), 7 p.m.

For Happy Valley, a win on Friday will hinge on whether the Warriors can outmaneuver a Oneida defense that seems to be carrying the load for an Indians offense that is having trouble putting points on the board.

The Indians ground out their final two wins of the regular season after taking down Coalfield 7-3 in week 10. The Indians seem to be having trouble with offensive output late in the season while, defensively, they have held their two last opponents to a combined 3 points. In week 9, Oneida fended off Bledsoe County 10-0. In that win, the Indian’s only touchdown came from Johnny Manis on a 2-yard carry. Oneida held Bledsoe County to four first downs and didn’t allow Bledsoe to cross the 50-yard line. The Indians had four forced turnovers in that game.

The Warriors are a squad that has found some late-season momentum. Last week, Happy Valley took down conference frontrunner South Greene, 21-0, to continue a three-game win streak. In that win, senior running back turned quarterback, Dakota Cochran, racked up 125 yards rushing with two touchdowns. In week 9, Cochran led the Warriors to a 40-7 rout of West Greene. Cochran provided four touchdowns in that victory.

Luckily for the Warriors, they have the ability to turn defense into points. During their victory over the West Greene, two of their touchdowns came from fumble recoveries returned for touchdowns with Cameron Slone taking one 10 yards and Cochran returning another for 63 yards.

The Warriors defense under the guidance of assistant coach Greg Hyder has prided itself on forcing turnovers, and Friday’s game at Oneida should be a defensive battle.

Class 2A Playoffs: Rockwood (6-4) at Hampton (5-5), 7 p.m.

The Hampton Bulldogs have earned themselves a home game in round one of the Class 2A playoffs which should give them an advantage inside a sure-to-be-packed J.C. Campbell Stadium.

The Rockwood Tigers will be visiting Hampton off a 26-0 win over Cumberland Gap in week 10 during a wet and cold game.

The Tigers are on a three-game win streak that has seen Rockwood post 119 points over their last three games while just allowing their opponents 20 points over those same three games.

The Bulldogs are a team with many weapons right now. During their 49-11 win over Cosby last week, running back Lane Potter paced Hampton with 155 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Potter would go out with a minor injury partway through the game. The Bulldogs, however, didn’t miss a step as Macon Barden filled the void and collected 104 yards rushing and a TD.

Through the air, Hampton QB Alex Hardin threw for 77 yards and four touchdowns as he connected with receivers Haden Birchfield, Isiah Greenwell, and Jonah Jones.

Hampton’s Morgan Jones also had a TD in the contest following a well-orchestrated drive by back up QB Conor Jones.

If the ’Dogs can keep things well balanced and utilize all their options, they could have a good chance to make the Class 2A quarterfinals.

Class 4A Playoffs: Howard (5-4) at Elizabethton 9-1, 7 p.m.

The Howard Tigers earned their No. 3 seed with a 19-6 win over East Hamilton last week.

That win saw the Tigers special teams come up with a couple fumble recoveries while their defense held East Hamilton to just two possessions in the first two quarters.

Tigers QB Marquez Williams played a big part in Howard’s offensive output as he put up a 7-yard TD pass and a 30-yard rushing TD. Howard got 132 yards rushing out of running back Eric Johnson who gave the Tigers their final touchdown with a 79-yard TD rush.

The Cyclones are looking to continue their regular season success into the postseason. Elizabethton will come into Citizens Bank Stadium following a 51-13 victory over Sullivan Central . The Cyclones will offer their typical 1-2 punch of senior quarterback Carter Everett and running back Corey Russell. Everett enters his final playoff run with over 6,000 career passing yards and over 80 career passing TDs. Russell boasts over 5,000 yards of total offense with a chunk of those coming on the ground at over 3,000 while having over 1,000 yards receiving.

Class 1A Playoffs: Midway (7-3) at Cloudland (8-2), 7 p.m.

Midway heads into the playoffs off of back-to-back Region 2-1A losses following a 33-20 loss at the hands of Oliver Springs last week.

The Highlanders, however, had no problem last week for their regular season-finale as they took down Copper Basin 56-14.

Cloudland showed they can score in every facet of the game last week. Defensively, senior defensive end K.J. Arnold, who has played a significant role on the Highlanders’ defense all season, scooped up two fumbles for scores against Copper Basin.

’Landers receiver Triston Lacy pulled in three TD passes from senior QB Malachi Benfield. Lacy also recorded a rushing TD. Senior running back and workhorse Jordan Coffey was in typical form as he took the ball into the end zone for two touchdowns.