Presswood presented Scholar-Athlete Award… Local players, coach honored during National Football Foundation awards

Published 8:55 am Tuesday, May 11, 2021

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Cloudland’s Eli Presswood just completed an outstanding four-year career on the offensive and defensive side of the football for the Highlanders and recently signed to play collegiately at Maryville College for the Scots.

But it was just not all the hard work that the Cloudland senior did on the field that made Presswood a special young man in the Roan Mountain community.

During Presswood’s signing, his high school coach Scott Potter spoke about how Presswood was active in his church as well as involved as the senior class president and is involved with the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

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For all his efforts inside and outside the four walls of Cloudland High School, Presswood was named this year’s Scholar-Athlete winner by the Mountain Empire Chapter of the National Football Foundation which was held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Johnson City.

Presswood will be displayed at the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia.

The award is presented to the player based on football achievements, academics, and community service.

“Eli Presswood is the epitome of a student-athlete,” said Cloudland High School Principal Richard Church. “He works his tail off in the classroom, is a role model for his peers on and off the football field, and is committed to his community.

“His hard work and dedication make him deserving of winning this prestigious scholarship and earning a spot on the National Football Foundation Team of Distinction.

“The entire CHS community is proud of Eli and his accomplishments.”

Presswood was one of four finalists from Carter County as Happy Valley’s Elijah Ayers, Parker Hughes from Elizabethton, and Hampton’s Roger Ward.

There were a total of 10 finalists which included other notable names as Dobyns-Bennett’s Zane Whitson, John Battle’s Shannon Wohford, Sullivan Central’s William Nottingham, Sullivan North’s Tyler Fugate, Tennessee High’s Bryce Snyder, and Unicoi County’s Evan Huff.

Also, during the ceremony, former Cloudland and Hampton head coach Mike Lunsford who coached in Carter County for 25 years was presented the John Robert Bell award which is named for the former retired ETSU coach who had a strong impact on the game, players, and the community.

Making the presentation even more special for Lunsford was having his son, Michael, present the award to his father. The two embraced when the elder Lunsford received his plaque from his son.

Lunsford has coached not only football but also boy’s and girls’ basketball, baseball, softball, and track and field.

He joined great coaches in the previous winners including Dave Rider from Elizabethton and Hampton’s J.C. Campbell.

Special guests on hand for the event included ETSU Athletic Director Scott Carter and head football coach Randy Sanders.