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The Cyclones make a statement… Friday night’s opening win should make opponents sit up and take notice

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
If last year’s state championship wasn’t enough to get Cyclone Nation stirred up about their Elizabethton Cyclone football team, last Friday night’s 2020 season opener against Science Hill should be enough to stoke the fire.
The Cyclones methodically defeated the visiting Hilltoppers by a 30-8 margin which could have been larger should Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten had elected to run the score up a tad against the visiting neighbors from Johnson City.
While execution-wise the game wouldn’t be considered flawless by no means, the win definitely shows that the Cyclones are primed to make another run for the title, should the season not hit any major road blocks due to COVID-19.
Rollins-Hughes connection rock solid
Junior quarterback Bryson Rollins and senior wide receiver Parker Hughes were phenomenal in the first game of 2020 as Rollins was 11-of-16 for 231 yards passing and three scoring tosses.
And you guessed it, Hughes was on the receiving end of all three touchdowns from Rollins and recorded a total of eight receptions for 184 yards.
Not a bad start statistically for both players. Rollins would probably like to have back one of his throws which was picked off as Rollins was being pressured and got off a wobbly throw that ended up in the arms of a Science Hill defender.
Rollins also had a nice night rushing as he accounted for 82 of the 135 yards on the ground for the Cyclones.
But once again, Rollins showed that calm demeanor that allowed him to lead the Cyclones to the gold ball last season and as the season progresses look for more stellar numbers from the signal-caller.
Hughes, meanwhile, is chiseled like stone and will be hard for any defense to handle this season. The only problem for Hughes will be with so much muscle and little fat and playing at the level that he plays, hydration will be key to keep from cramping throughout the games.
The offensive line just a step off
While shopping at Ingles over the weekend, I was asked by senior offensive lineman Wesley Erwin what I thought of the game. I simply responded that I thought that the O-line was just a tad off.
Erwin quickly responded that they definitely didn’t play the way they should and he dreaded the film session on Monday. Erwin even went as far as to say that offensive line coach Jeff Pierce said that they were getting beaten by the ‘Toppers front.
Now, it goes without saying that it was the first time that anyone had any contact against anyone aside from themselves in practice and from all appearances both sides of the ball were sucking air in the second half.
Pierce is one of the best offensive line coaches around and he will have the five horsemen back ready to go against Sullivan East and get all the kinks ironed out which could be a bad thing for opposing defensive lines.
And if the Cyclones can score 30 points with the line missing by a click, imagine what happens when it all comes together.
Just not the same
While football was able to start, it just wasn’t the same atmosphere as past Elizabethton and Science Hill games where normally its standing room only about 10 deep around the fences and the stands full.
With COVID-19, temperature checks were being done and fans were limited to about one-third of normal capacity, Fans couldn’t stand around and talk and the concession stand had a specific route that had to be taken to be served.
After the game, normally the field would be flooded with parents and friends offering congratulations to the Cyclones on the big win but this time around the players met with their coach and were sent to the locker room while parents were encouraged to go to their vehicles.
It wasn’t the same but it has to be done if football is to make it through the 2020 season.
Hats off to the Elizabethton High School administration and especially to Athletic Director Forrest Holt and athletic secretary Rachel Williams who has worked extremely hard to get the season tickets lined out for parents of the players, band, cheerleaders, and chorus to be able to support their students among other things.
Also, Holt was busy at the game running like a crazed mouse in a maze trying to make sure that everything was running smoothly and everybody was doing what they needed to do to ensure that TSSAA regulations were being met.
If you were wondering
After the game, many asked me if this was the largest margin of victory for Elizabethton over Science Hill which honestly I had no clue so I reached out to a fellow colleague, Doug Fritz, who does an amazing job with histories of teams.
Fritz informed me of a website where he was able to pull some past results so here is the answer to your question if you had wondered about the margin of victory.
According to the website, the Cyclones defeated the ‘Toppers 56-20 in 1999, 49-12 in 1998, 30-8 in 1972, 38-7 in 1954, 39-13 in 1953, 67-7 in 1943, and 46-0 in 1938.
So now you and I know the rest of the story when it comes to large wins that the Cyclones have enjoyed over the years against Science Hill.
Up next
Elizabethton has Sullivan East next up Friday night at Citizens Bank Stadium with the same regulations in place. The Patriots beat Johnson County on Friday night in their opener at Bluff City.
The Cyclones had their way last year in Bluff City and the Patriots will have their hands full once again this season as the Cyclones have one thing in mind and one thing only – defend the title.