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Hampton, Cloudland square off in an inter-county matchup Friday night

BY NIC MILLER
STAR STAFF
nic.miller@elizabethton.com

The Hampton Bulldogs and the Cloudland Highlanders, two storied football programs in Carter County with only 10 minutes and a few miles separating the two schools.

And on Friday night, the two schools will square off on the gridiron in a matchup that will determine bragging rights within the area.

Cloudland comes into this contest after an unexpected bye week last week, with their previously scheduled game against Rockwood being canceled due to Covid implications for Rockwood.

Head coach of the Highlanders Zac Benfield spoke about last week, and how it affects this week’s matchup, saying, “As soon as I found out we were not playing Rockwood, I told the kids that we needed to just keep preparing because we are playing a very good opponent this week.”

“It has proved to be positive because we were able to get some guys back that were out with Covid, or who were just sick in general.”

With this game proving to be a pivotal one in the county, Benfield knew how good of a contest this week was going to be. “There’s not even really anything you have to say to these guys to get them fired up for this one, these guys wanna win this game badly. This week’s matchup against Hampton is gonna come down to which team is going to prepare the hardest.

“I have been talking to the team about how the atmosphere and outside environment of this game is going to be crazy. The main thing is for us to focus on our job and how we can keep doing that job over and over again.”

This week’s matchup is also a very important one for the team from Hampton, who took Avery County to the woodshed last week in their big win, 54-26.

The Bulldogs head coach, Michael Lunsford spoke on his team’s success in that game, saying, “I thought we got a lot of people involved and thought Michael Harrison and Jonny Greenwell really stepped up and played like I know that they can. In terms of ways to improve, I thought we could sustain our blocks a little better to help our back hit the hole.”

When asked about this week’s matchup against a team they consider a rival, Lunsford explained what this game meant to his team as well as the community in Hampton.

“Well we know they have had us circled since Zac was hired, and we know how important of a game it is to them, so we need to be able to match their intensity on every snap in this one.

“This game is like playing ball in the backyard against your brother. You want to beat them, but on the other hand, you don’t want anyone else to beat them.”

Friday night’s contest between the two inter-county rivals will be played at Orr Field in Roan Mountain at 7:30 pm.