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Refusing to throw the towel in… Cyclones looking to get back on track during Homecoming 2021

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
The Elizabethton Cyclones may have hurt some over the weekend after suffering a loss to region foe Greeneville to bring to an end a dominating win streak of 31 straight wins but one loss doesn’t mean the end of the world and for a Cyclone program that refuses to accept defeat, the Boone Trailblazers might be in for a rough welcome Friday night as the Cyclones celebrate Homecoming 2021.

Monday morning opened up during practice not talking about their loss but about focusing on Boone who gave the Cyclones fits last season and will be looking to add to the Cyclones’ woes.

That’s going to be harder than what they might think as the Elizabethton coaching staff has taken the weaknesses that were glaring on Friday against Greeneville and are making sure those don’t surface again.

“Friday can’t get here quick enough,” said Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten. “I would be disappointed if our guys weren’t upset about losing. The expectations are high. We didn’t perform the way that we should have.

“We just didn’t play with that same chip on our shoulder and that same tenacious Cyclone football. Maybe we put too much pressure on the guys or too much build-up but it’s all about how we respond from here on out. We have to take our frustrations out on Daniel Boone.”

Witten would be the first to admit that while things are going well, it is hard to maybe spot the small cracks in the ship that are highly magnified in a pressure-packed game like what his team faced Friday night.

He also would be the last one to look for excuses realizing that the only way to right the ship is to get back to what made the team successful in the first place.

“We have got to be able to face adversity the same way that we have been able to handle all the success,” Witten added. “We don’t like losing around here and we have to figure out a way to get back to work and fix things.

“Sometimes when you are winning, things aren’t as magnified as when you lose. So now we have to get back to the basics and get back to the discipline and the structure – what got us to this point to make us so successful has been all about the hard work so our approach this week has been about hard work and the secret is in the dirt.

“Getting back to the things that made us really good and hopefully we can get a great outcome on Friday.”

Boone will be coming to Citizens Bank Stadium looking to pounce on an opportunity to throw salt on the wound of the Cyclones. The boys from Gray have always been a tough opponent and this year looks to be no different.

“Boone has always played us tough and they will again Friday,” stated Witten. “They think that we are down and that they have a chance to come in and get on us. It’s going to be a tough game – you can flip on the film from last year and see that.

“We have just got to get better. Complacency is real and confidence is real so we are just trying to tell the guys the truth about where they are and how much we have got to get better. I think our guys will respond. It means too much to them.

“I saw some hurt in some guy’s eyes Friday and I think that we realize that everything from here on out gets hard. It’s not going to be easy and we can’t listen to the naysayers outside – we have to stick to the culture that is in the locker room and find a way to make ourselves better.”

Witten doesn’t look at Homecoming week as being a distraction. As a matter of fact, the festivities may not have come at a better time as a way to help get the team’s mind off Friday’s loss.

Losing isn’t a way of life for the program, so the quicker a new streak can start the better.

“We need something to get our minds off the loss. We don’t accept losing in the middle school program, the junior varsity program, the varsity program – it’s a sour taste in our mouth,” Witten commented.

“The way you fix it is to go out and get a strong performance on Friday. I think that we haven’t been disciplined in some areas whether it’s penalties or some fine-tuned situations, our tackling, our hustle – so our kids will respond.

“Our leadership is heading in the right direction. We have been on top for a long time so with our backs against the wall we have to come back fighting and I think it’s worth fighting for the rest of the year.”

The Homecoming Parade will kick things off at 6 pm on Friday on Jason Witten Way and work around to the student parking lot. The kickoff will be at 7:30 pm with the crowning of the Homecoming Queen at halftime of the game.