Finally coming home… Cyclones anxious to play before a home crowd as Boone comes to Citizens Bank Stadium

Published 12:47 am Friday, September 13, 2019

The Elizabethton Cyclones haven’t taken the first snap in an official game this season at Citizens Bank Stadium as they have been on the road for the first two games of the season and had an open week so this week will be a special time for the team when they host the Daniel Boone Trailblazers tonight.
Elizabethton head coach Shawn Witten has been extremely pleased with what he has seen out of his team thus far but realizes that there is still room to grow and improve each week.
“I think that after the number of practice weeks we’ve had and the two games under our belt, I want to see us play better, play as a smarter type of football team,” Witten said. “At times we just really need to focus on the execution and at times just run from being good to chasing being great.
“We still want to get off the field faster on third down. We are still doing a lot of good things offensively. I just want to see us in certain situations throughout the course of the game to have a lot better execution and know our assignments better.  It seems sometimes that we have jumped offsides in fourth down situations defensively.”
Even though the Cyclones are playing a level above most teams, Witten hopes that his team will not start peaking too early but will work to grow and peak when it counts the most.
“It’s still early in the year and we don’t want to be at our best right now,” Witten added. “We are still working to peak. I think that as we move forward that there is another challenge coming this week and we have to go back to work and fix our problems.”
With Boone coming in, the pre-season hype centered around their stud running back Charlie Cole who had committed to play for Army. But unfortunately for Cole and the Blazers, Cole has gone down with an injury and won’t be returning to the latter part of the season.
Witten was asked how an injury like the one suffered by Cole could change the dynamics of the game for the Boone team.
“Last week was their first game without him and they didn’t really know how they were going to react without him and know who was going to step up,” Witten stated about Cole’s absence. “You would expect them to be better this week with one game under their belt.
“A lot of times when one of the guys go down, especially your star player, it can bring your team together. Different people will step up in different roles – it’s kind of that next man up type mentality.
“You do see some good weapons on their team and it may be more balanced because sometimes when you have a guy like Charlie Cole four out of five plays he’s going to touch it and be involved in their game plan,” Witten continued. “Now they can keep you off-balanced a little bit with their run-pass options and trying to get more people involved.
“That’s kind of the scary thing because what you see on film may not be what we are going to get this week because you don’t really know who the players are that they are going to try to get the ball to.”
Witten went on to discuss that being prepared for whatever may be thrown at his team is important as is the fact that the Cyclones need to continue to come out of the gate strong to set the tempo of the game to a pace of their liking.
“Right now we have had to focus on every aspect and every player that they have got and for us, we have to continue to get off on a good start,” Witten said. “Things have gotten off really well in the first two games. We have been able to create such a lead that it has helped us develop quite a bit of momentum.
“But what happens in situations if they were to score before us or we were to turn it over and make some mistakes, you want to see how our team will respond in situations like that. We set goals for ourselves each week setting small winning edges to see if we can find different ways to win.”
Witten spoke also about how important it was to run different looks offensively and the excitement of coming back to their home turf to play tonight.
“The other thing is offensively the more we can continue to spread the ball around and execute our plays that we work on in practice and continue to be efficient – it’s really good to see how we have been able to do that in the first two games.
“We are excited to be back home. It should be a great night for us. Our seniors should be really excited. We should have a lot of energy and play really well and try to get the game in our hands early. We are starting to find our groove and find our positions. We want to be more physical as we run the football.”
Kickoff tonight is 7:30 pm.

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