For Cyclones, it’s about playing to regain the crown

Published 8:03 am Friday, August 12, 2022

STAR CORRESPONDENT
For many teams winning a state championship is the ultimate goal however if you happen to be the Elizabethton Cyclones, it’s about working to continue to put oneself into position to keep competing for the top spot in football in Class 4-A year after year.
Elizabethton has been to the title game three consecutive years winning two back-to-back championships in 2019 and 2020 while picking up runner-up hardware in 2021 after dropping a double overtime heartbreaker to Tullahoma.
It’s a new season and the Cyclones are revving their engines once again seeking a fourth trip but with a realization it’s going to be three times harder than in the past three years.
The Cyclones must start with finding the right trigger man under center after the graduation of four-year starter Bryson Rollins who lost only two starts in his four years as quarterback.
And it doesn’t pay to ask Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten who is going to get the starting nod as he will tell you upfront that he doesn’t know who the starting quarterback is going to be.
One thing that the head coach entering his 16th season does know is that the cupboard is not bare but he is still waiting to see who is going to step forth to take leadership as the field general.
There are no less than five players who could fill the void left by the departure of Rollins including junior Gib Maupin, senior Dalton Mitchell, sophomore Jeriah Griffin, freshman Rhett Slagle, and multi-talented senior Cade Russell who can about do anything asked of him on the football grid.
Each player has different qualities and skills so if Witten wanted to platoon all five at the position; he could do so.
The good news for anyone taking snaps is there is experience up front on the line starting from the center position down the left side of the line where senior Sam Bowers will be taking care of the snapping duties. Junior Josh Hayes will man the left guard position and senior Caden Draine will hold down the tackle slot. All three players saw extensive action last season.
Senior Dylan McDuffie is penciled in at right guard while sophomore Seth Campbell will toe the line at right tackle.
Senior Jacob Whitaker returns to fill one tight end position while freshman Justius Wallin has proven himself as another tight end.
The wide receiver slot will be key as senior playmaker Teddy Orton has already flashed glimpses of what he can do during early scrimmages on one receiver slot while juniors Eli Blevins, Cam Baker, and Luke Whaley will also be the focus of defensive coordinators.
Senior Nate Stephens will see action at both running back and wide receiver as will Mitchell who will step out to be a target as well.
The running back slots will be filled with Russell and juniors Kaleb Hozier and Seth Mullins.
Other players seeing action on the offensive line include juniors Andrew White, Wyatt Pittsenbarger, Corey Green, and Hunter Franklin along with sophomores Kyron Smalls, Gavin Kodak, and Blaine Tolley.
A more in-depth look at the Cyclone defense and special teams unit will be included in the upcoming 2022 Elizabethton Star Football tab.

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