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Cyclones set for first big road trip to Grainger

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
The Elizabethton Cyclones had to take a deep breath after Friday night’s bruising contest against the Daniel Boone Trailblazers as Coach Shawn Witten and his team managed to squeeze by the Blazers in a battle that took the full 48 minutes to determine the outcome.

Elizabethton (2-1, 0-1) gets back into conference action Friday night when they travel to Rutledge looking to tame the Grainger Grizzlies in an effort to even their conference slate.

Friday’s game will mark the first long bus ride of the season for the Cyclones who must continue to work and find depth and someone offensively to step up and take some of the burden off quarterback Bryson Rollins who has utilized not only his arm but his legs in the first three games of the season.

The season only gets longer and tougher and the Cyclones cannot look past the Grizzlies to next week’s game against Anderson County.

Witten said that his players made all the difference by the way they responded to the challenge of last week’s game against Boone.

“I think our players deserve a lot of credit just by their grit and toughness and the way we responded throughout the course of the game,” said Witten about his team’s efforts. “Our defense played so well early then we came out in the second half and they scored on the first play and our offense had to respond so our players deserve a lot of credit for bouncing back and showed a lot of toughness.

“The ability to win on both sides of the ball offensively and defensively was the difference.”

The coach was also very pleased with the way his offensive line responded with the game hanging in the balance as the clock was winding down toward the end.

“The last series to stop them defensively and then run the clock out by getting a first down was huge,” Witten stated. “The offensive line really made some huge steps in the second half because we really attacked the run game and they did a great job.”

One of the biggest challenges that the Cyclones are facing is finding someone to provide more firepower to the offensive side of the ball.

Part of that has involved moving players to different positions in the hopes that they will help to solidify the weapons that Witten can utilize.

“We have to do a better job of getting more guys involved. We left Nate (Stephens) at wide receiver to have more weapons in the game. We have to find a way to get him involved as well,” Witten commented.

“We need to do a better job of moving Jake (Roberts) around to get him more carries. Teddy Orton, Jeriah Griffin, Dalton Mitchell – we have to find a way to get more people involved.

“We ran (Kaleb) Holzer and (Zeth) Mullins behind Cade to get them some carries. We have got to do a good job over the next several weeks to create some more weapons.”

Witten is using this trip to Rutledge as an opportunity to toughen his team up as when playoffs begin, the Cyclones at some time will have to hit the road to have another shot at a third straight state championship.

“This is going to be challenging for us because sooner or later we will have to go on the road in the playoffs. We are approaching this as a business trip knowing that we have to get better and develop more weapons,” said Witten.

Game time is slated for 7:30 pm.