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Going for the conference championship… Cyclones play South Thursday with a title on their mind

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
One major hurdle on the road to another conference championship was leaped in a huge way last Friday night on the road at Greeneville for the Elizabethton Cyclones as they took care of business winning 44-10 over the Greene Devils.

A second major obstacle stands in the way Thursday night in Death Valley at Sullivan South High School as the Cyclones look to take down a Rebels team that almost spoiled their chances of a perfect season last year at Citizens Bank Stadium had it not been for a blocked kick in the waning seconds of that game.

With a win, the Cyclones will be the sole owners of the Region 1 Class 4A championship – their second in as many years.

It is a short turnaround for head coach Shawn Witten and his team with the game being on Thursday, but Witten and his team is looking forward to getting back on the field quickly after their big win.

“We are excited to really be playing on Thursday. We are anxious to get back on the field real quick,” Witten said. “I think where we have made the most gains is that we have played a lot of big football games and we have learned so much from last year and we have got to move on to the next game after a big win – just focus and prepare.

“There are not many games left in South’s history so this is one of the final big ones for them and a chance to kind of go out on top and make a statement for the Sullivan South community.”

Witten was referring to this being the last season that South will exist as they will be combining with Sullivan Central and Sullivan North next year and it would mean the world for the Rebels to earn a dramatic win to end the Cyclones current 23-game winning streak.

The Cyclones are well aware of the situation and will be ready to face the challenge after playing in so many big games over the last two years.

“You live and learn from last year in so many pivotal moments but I think that we have a mature bunch that understands getting back to preparation,” Witten stated. “It’s automatically back to preparation because preparing for a game in three days is as critical as having two weeks for Greeneville.

“There is no room for error and no room to slip up. A team like South that has the last couple of games there, they are going to throw the kitchen sink at us. Our guys will be focused and prepared. We just need to set the stage and be ready to be as physical as we were with Greeneville.

“They are a big football team that has a lot of kids that are really big,” Witten continued. “They have done a great job to this point other than the bad game that they had against Greeneville two weeks ago.

“Just like last year, they will be ready to play against us.”

One of the main differences this week will be the fact that this will be the first opportunity that Cyclone Nation will have an opportunity to see their team as South has announced that anyone can purchase tickets at the main gate Thursday for the contest.

Past games have only had a limited amount of tickets for the family of the players on the road. Witten said this is a great opportunity for fans to deck out in orange and come support the Cyclones in their bid for the championship.

“We need Cyclone Nation to really show out for this game,” Witten said. “South’s facilities give a chance to host a big stage Thursday night and a great opportunity to really come out and support our Cyclones as they look to be back-to-back conference champions.

“I think it would mean a lot to our kids to see the turnout. The Greeneville turnout was great. People went on and got the extra tickets and it’s just great to have the fan support to really support our guys especially at this time of year.”

The game will kickoff at 7:30 pm.