Cyclones preparing for tough Golden Eagle team

Published 10:48 pm Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Friday night’s game at Citizens Bank Stadium will be special because the senior members of the football team along with fall sports and cheerleaders will be recognized when the Rhea County Golden Eagles fly into Elizabethton to take on the Cyclones for Senior Night 2021.

The Cyclones will be facing a team that they haven’t played before in the Golden Eagles and will find a team very similar in stature to Anderson County and Greeneville but play a different brand of offense in running the Wing-T which is very hard to defend especially the way Rhea County breaks their huddle to begin their offense.

Rhea County, which is located in Evensville, is coming into the game red-hot having won five straight after an opening loss to Alcoa. In their victories, the Golden Eagles have averaged over 30 points a contest.

Elizabethton, meanwhile, is also playing some good football since their loss to Greeneville having put up a ton of points against Grainger and Sullivan East on the road.

“It’s definitely an uncommon opponent,” said head coach Shawn Witten about the upcoming contest. “The reason we are playing anyway is that we are both desperate for games. They are in a conference with five teams so it’s hard to find five teams to play. If you look at their schedule, they have a variety of teams that they play.

“Rhea County is a big school – it’s a 5-A school that plays a different style of football, a different brand. It’s very physical old-school wing T. That’s what the coach has done his entire career being at Catholic. Mark Pemberton has done a good job. He has hired coaches whose background is wing T and they run a little bit different style of defense as well- more of 3-5, 3-3 stack with less defensive linemen and more linebackers.

“They have played good teams in Ooltewah, Red Bank, Walker Valley, and Anderson County which is a common opponent. It’s a lot like something that you will see in the playoffs. We are playing a team for the first time ever. It definitely gets your attention and you have to be ready to go.”

Witten went on to say that if anyone thinks that this is going to be an easy game they are sadly mistaken as the game will take on the resemblance of a game one might see deep in the playoffs against a larger, physical school.

“This one is tough – it’s going to be a playoff mentality as far as executing on both sides,” Witten said. “It’s a long way to travel for them and you have that type of playoff atmosphere and also on top of that, there are only so many games left in the regular season. This is about as big as it gets for us as we close the season.”

The head coach in his 15th season also added that if fans like hard nosed and physical football, it comes no better than Friday night’s contest.

“This could be another game like the Anderson County week where it’s going to be a physical, big-boy type game,” stated Witten. “They are really strong and they do what they do well. They are going to limit the number of plays that you get offensively.

” A game like this, you are going to find out about your overall discipline. You have got to limit the mistakes and the penalties. If you get behind the down and distance offensively, you have to maximize every possession and opportunity.

“I hope our guys understand the focus that we have had to get this week and understand its going to be whatever it takes mentality.”

The kickoff is slated for 7:30 pm.