Buckle those seat belts – it’s about to get real… Cyclones, Greene Devils ready to go to war for first place and postseason positioning

Published 12:22 am Friday, October 18, 2019

Two games were circled on the calendar after the Elizabethton Cyclones completed their 2018 season at Anderson County coming into 2019 and that was the Science Hill and Greeneville game.
The Science Hill game was a neighboring city rival and the Cyclones handled business there at the start of the season and now tonight the next bullseye is directly front and center in the Greeneville Greene Devils with sole possession of Region 1 4-A hanging in the balance and more importantly an opportunity to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Elizabethton High School probably hasn’t hosted a game of this magnitude for quite some time but now the light is shining brightly on the football team and the community as all eyes will be watching toward Northeast Tennessee for the outcome of this football game especially in Class 4A.
An overflowing crowd is highly anticipated and all measures have been taken from safety to fan convenience to make sure that the game will be memorable both on and off the field.
Both teams have anticipated this showdown, the town has talked about it for eight weeks, and now kickoff is just a few hours away. Plans have been made to shuttle fans from local parking lots to make it easier to get to and from the game.
Calls have gone out all week for Cyclone fans to deck out in orange to create an unbelievable atmosphere for the contest and large tailgates have been in planning as well.
Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten realizes that this game carries a lot of excitement for the football teams and coaches, the community, and just football fans in general.
“You can’t really describe it. It’s a game that you love this time of year with the weather its football season. It becomes even a bigger game than the start of the season,” said Witten.
“Each team has had several weeks to kind of form their identity and put the best players out there and execute and so both teams have really done all that you could ask them to put themselves in this kind of position.
“So we feel really blessed that our program and our team have done everything that we could to insure that we are 7-0 going into this game.”
Many feel that this season will be the first one in a long time that both teams come in comparable equal after seeing the Greene Devils graduate 28 seniors last season including their talented quarterback Cade Ballard and his father, Greeneville head coach Caine Ballard stepping aside.
Witten said often you can’t compare teams like that especially if they have experienced the level of success at the level Greeneville has.
“The only similar difference a lot of times when you play teams like Greeneville is just an air of confidence they bring in where they have been there and done that,” Witten stated. “Even the kids that were on the team last year that weren’t really a major contributor, they have something to prove too and I think that a new coach and a new identity you figure out how you replace some of those guys.
“They have a great offseason program and a great culture and those kids expect to win. Even when you get up on Greeneville, you are not going to get out without them fighting all the way to the end.”
Witten expects this contest to be no different than the last few have been between the two programs.
“It’s a great challenge all the way through and it’s going to be a great battle. You can use the last two years as confidence. You can use the last two years as a kind of motivation but a lot of those players have come and gone,” Witten continued.
“Just to say that we are going to play them as good again – we are going to have to go out there and prove it.”
Witten went on to add it is extra special to be playing this game at Citizens Bank Stadium where he expects a great atmosphere with a charged-up crowd to fill the stands and be the 12th man for the Cyclones in the contest.
“Especially at home, you have no better place to play than right here. You are going to have a great atmosphere and a great crowd. It’s October 18th and it is going to be phenomenal weather and a great venue,” stated Witten.
“There is a lot at stake and a lot on the line with the home playoff to be here all the way through. We know the other side of it going to Anderson County in the last two years.
“That right there is enough to fight for and for inspiration to be motivated,” Witten continued. “It’s going to be challenging – it’s going to be a big game and these are the games that separate programs and weigh heavily in separating the legacy of football teams.
“It separates the legacy of seniors. We have a lot of players and even my groups in high school, you would come awful close but you never did win it. So if this group can win, it puts them down as one of the great football teams.”
Cyclone Nation has nightmares about the last two years on the road to Anderson County and for that reason, there is added incentive to do everything possible to will their team to a win.
“Homefield advantage all the way through is critical this year especially with the travel that comes with the playoffs,” Witten added. ” I think too that if you get a rematch that it’s back here.
“You have to go out there and block out the noise and limit the distractions and focus on the small details to get yourself ready for the game.
“We can’t listen to what the outside is predicting. We have to go out there and make some plays. It may be a 48-minute game or it may take longer than that. We have to have a bunch of guys ready to roll for Friday night.”
Kickoff is at 7:30 pm and fans are encouraged to take advantage of the shuttles that will be running as once again a huge, overflow crowd is expected to attend the contest.

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