Cyclones look to pick up first road win at Anderson Co.

Published 10:44 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

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For the past two state championship run seasons for the Elizabethton Cyclones, Coach Shawn Witten’s team has been able to avoid traveling to Anderson County where the Cyclones lost two previous playoff games to the Mavericks.

Friday night, the Cyclones will board the bus for a trip where they hope to nip that losing streak in the bud while seeking to advance to next week’s third round of playoffs.

And although the Mavericks struggled last week against Seymour trailing at one point 21-14 before rallying to win 39-21, the Cyclone head coach is fully aware of the battle that his team will be in for after having already defeated Anderson County once during the regular season, 27-7.

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“A lot of it has to do with playing a team a second time because that becomes really tough,” said Witten Tuesday. “I think when we played them the first time, they were a little shell-shocked in their first game playing without their starting quarterback Martinez and trying to make some adjustments.

“Now they have had four or five games to settle in and moved on from that situation. Both teams run the football really well and both teams rely on a group of players to lead them. The thing about Anderson County is they are very strong and they are very big. They are very powerful in their personnel.”

One of the things that make Anderson County a tough place to play is the atmosphere that the team intentionally creates from the field all the way to the press box.

The Cyclones know they can’t let what’s happening around them to dictate how they play on the field.

“You don’t know what to expect and everybody prepares for different teams differently,” Witten added. “What we do know is that Anderson County is a tough place to play in a tough environment. It’s tough to come out of there with a win.

“We talked to our guys this week about what it is going to take to come out of there with a win. It’s going to be physical, kind of a bend but don’t break mentality. The team that doesn’t make mistakes and the team that can make the big play will have the advantage. We are expecting their running back, Gavin Noe, to have a big game carrying the football after he carried the ball 40 times last year against Greeneville.”

Although the Cyclones defeated the Knox Carter Green Hornets in the opening round, Witten was not sold that his team played at their maximum level.

“We have to do a good job of creating some shock plays and getting the football down the field. What we have been preaching this week is the intensity and the will to win is what wins the game,” stated Witten.

“Friday we won on the scoreboard but I am not sure we won by our effort and our attention to detail – we just won because we were the better team and forced a turnover right before the half to get up 19-0. We didn’t play like there is no tomorrow.”

The teams hit the field for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday night.