Cyclones tangle with Wolves in first scrimmage of season

Published 8:30 am Friday, July 29, 2022

STAR CORRESPONDENT

KINGSPORT – Even though the Elizabethton Cyclones have only been in pads since Monday morning, they earned a very good grade in their first scrimmage of the season as the first units on both offense and defense looked solid while all players were able to see action when the Cyclones took on West Ridge in their first scrimmage of the season.

An early look answered some of the answers that Cyclone fans had after seeing the departure of a strong group of seniors from the 2021 team that finished with a Class 4-A Runner-up finish after falling in double overtime to Tullahoma.

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The following is a recap of Thursday’s scrimmage.

Offense

The first unit head coach Shawn Witten put on the field to open the scrimmage was able to move the ball pretty effectively mixing in both the run and pass.

Gib Maupin got the call under center as the first player to take that spot in the last four years replacing Bryson Rollins who graduated. Maupin showed off a strong arm on several of his throws, especially on the out routes and showed he could throw the deep ball.

Maupin and his receivers still have some work to do on the deep routes but were effective in moving the chains and scoring on their first two possessions.

Running backs Kaleb Holzer and Zeth Mullins also looked crisp when the ball was stuck in their belly to carry the pigskin for crucial runs to keep both drives going. Each would record short scoring runs on the first two drives of the scrimmage.

The offensive line also looked solid in protecting Maupin while opening the holes for their running backs. The line had experience back as Sam Bowers anchored the line from his center position while Josh Hayes and Caden Draine also brought back experience from the 2021 season.

Wideouts Teddy Orton, Nate Stephens, and Dalton Mitchell showed that when the ball was in their zip code, they were able to haul in the passes.  Junior Eli Blevins also reeled in a scoring toss from quarterback Zeriah Griffin.

Defense

The first unit defense for Elizabethton also impressed as they kept the Wolves out of the end zone on West Ridge’s first two drives stopping the ball on critical fourth downs to put the ball back in the hands of the Cyclone offense.

It’s still early in the season but once again the Cyclones will need some work on tackling especially when the ball passes the initial line of scrimmage into the Cyclone secondary. The Wolves took advantage of several runs where the defenders were in position but didn’t make the tackle allowing for extra yards.

However, the Cyclone first unit may have bent but they didn’t break in keeping the first unit of the Wolves out of the end zone.

Elizabethton also added an interception by Mitchell in stopping a Wolves drive.

Quarterbacks

The most talked about position coming into the 2022 season was who was going to be able to step into the shoes left void by Rollins graduation.

Cyclone Nation doesn’t have too much to worry about as all three of the quarterbacks that took snaps on Thursday showed that each one brings a different element to the table.

Maupin has a strong arm and made some tight passes to his receivers. Working in 7-on-7 leagues in the off-season has paid dividends for Maupin. Griffin showed he can also zing the football, but accuracy will have to be worked on in the next couple of weeks along with timing. Griffin brings the ability to run the football as well.

Freshman Rhett Slagle also handled his first high school scrimmage with composure making some good throws and using his legs when needed.

Missing from action

The Cyclones were missing a couple of key pieces on Thursday evening as senior running back Cade Russell and senior lineman Bradley Cannon were still recouping as Russell suffered a tweaked knee and Cannon is recovering from surgery and hasn’t been released by his doctors.

Witten will be looking to get these two players back as they will play big roles on both sides of the football.

The Cyclones will be traveling to Morristown West next Thursday for another scrimmage beginning at 6:30 p.m.