Cyclones, Greene Devils Part 2… Different Elizabethton team seeking redemption Friday night

Published 10:38 pm Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Friday Sept. 3 is a night that the 2021 Elizabethton Cyclones would like to have a redo on after Greeneville came to Citizens Bank Stadium and turned the Cyclones every which way but loose in a 42-12 defeat that ended a 31-consecutive game win streak for the defending back-to-back Class 4A state champions.

And although the Cyclones can’t turn back time like Cher had sung about, they do get one more opportunity to gain a measure of redemption from that loss before this class of seniors depart as the all-time winning class in Cyclone history when the two teams meet in the Class 4-A state quarterfinals at Burley Stadium on Friday night at 7 p.m. in what many are calling the state championship game.

One cannot look at the first game and make any type of comparisons because both teams have grown through the season and none more so than the Cyclones who have outscored their opponents 481-146 and could have been more had Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten not called off his squad so as not to embarrass their opponents.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Including in those numbers is last week’s game at Anderson County where the Cyclones methodically shut down the Maverick offense to hold the home team to 35 yards of total offense while racking up 426 in a 45-7 victory to advance to this week’s contest.

“It’s obvious that Greeneville is a really good team,” said Witten leading up to Friday’s game. “They have a lot of athleticism. They haven’t given up a lot of points on defense and are explosive on offense.

“I think that we have learned a lot about ourselves. I think that we have grown up over the last two months and have settled into some positions and responsibilities and developed a lot of toughness and grit.”

Witten and the Cyclones are not just writing this game off as another contest as they realize what they are facing. However, one thing that anyone also knows that follows Cyclone football and that is Witten is a fighter and a competitor and that has rubbed off on his teams during his 15-year career as the head coach.

“We have had a lot of tough challenges,” stated Witten. “We realize it’s going to be a tough game and wouldn’t have it any other way. We just have to go out and really lay it on the line.

“They have tons of weapons for sure. (Brady) Quillen does a great job of getting those guys the ball and you have definitely got to stop the run first because you have to run the football to win games in the playoffs. Mason Gudger is a lot about that, just the speed they do a lot with him.

“They have the ability to make the big plays on the outside. We have done a good job in the last couple of weeks in preventing the big play. We have to do a good job in rallying to the football. We have to find a way to strike on offense. The last time we played them, we had an 18-play drive to use a lot of the clock and put points on the board and it’s going to be a tough place to win at Burley Stadium against a really good team.”

Those big plays have led to lopsided wins on the season for Greeneville who have beat down several teams during the season including an 88-0 rout of Sullivan East. The Greene Devils have outscored opponents 658-105 during the season.

“You just can’t give up those big plays,” added Witten. “We have to do a good job of getting the game into the fourth quarter and see what we can do. This is the reason you play football and do all the work.

“If you have ever questioned, and everybody always questions their path, this is really why you play these games. The situation has flipped from the last two years. We have done a really good job of getting ourselves to this point over the last 10 weeks and now it’s just time to go play.”