Railroad Rumble – Part 2: Cyclones-Hilltoppers set to kickoff 2022 season

Published 1:55 pm Tuesday, August 16, 2022

STAR CORRESPONDENT
The most infamous words in Tennessee is getting ready to be spread across loudspeakers across the state on Friday night when PA announcers will proclaim, “It’s football time in Tennessee”.
Those words will bring an end to months of waiting for fans looking forward to filling high school stadiums across the Volunteer state and especially right here in Carter County.
One of the biggest contests of the week will feature the second edition of the Railroad Rumble to be played out at Citizens Bank Stadium on Friday night.
Last year, the first installation was played at William B. Greene Stadium on the campus of ETSU where 10,000 people turned out for the contest which felt more like a college game than a high school contest.
The Cyclones won that game and look to keep the trophy sitting in the trophy case at EHS for another year but just like last year, it will be a huge challenge.
“I think there is a huge sense of urgency when you play Science Hill in week one every year that during offseason conditioning and summer practice that you can’t waste a day in preparation for this game,” said Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten. “I think too that you have to preach that you can’s just beat them off your talent – you have to have the will to win and the depth, the skill positions, and the amount of guys that are going to play snaps and the amount of guys they are going to play snaps.
“When I look at our team, the last thing is I care about is their talent. It’s the accountability, the discipline, and the fundamentals and techniques to be the unsung heroes.”
This will be the first time in four seasons that Witten will have someone other than Bryson Rollins under center, so the execution and ability to take care of the football offensively will be a focal point of the contest.
And as in the past, the Cyclone skipper wants to see his team get off to a fast start in the contest.
“Talent will not win you this football game,” said Witten. “Hard-nosed football, toughness, team chemistry, bend but don’t break and a little bit of the mentality that we are not supposed to win this game. They are still preaching that method of we are an 863 enrollment and they are a 2,500 enrollment. They have 120 on the roster and we have 80. We went a decade and didn’t beat them. It’s not what the game is about, it’s what it is not about. It’s finding a way to win the football game to set up a successful season.”
For some players on both sides, this will be the first opportunity to play in this big series. Witten knows the pressure of playing in this spotlight and has been trying to instill in his team that there will be adversity but it is how you respond to the adversity that will make the difference.
“When you hit adversity you have to strike back,” Witten said. “Composure is big. You get adrenaline and you get excitement. Somewhere along the line you are going to get knocked down but you have to get back up. You have to play the first 24 minutes and figure out what you need to do and then see if you can get it to the fourth quarter and find a way to finish.”
Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m. Gates will open at 6 p.m. The game will be a black-out game for the Cyclones. Tickets can be purchased online at gofan.co for $8. Tickets will be on sale at the gate for $8.

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