‘Landers take first crack at Rockwood

Published 7:57 pm Monday, August 29, 2022

STAR CORRESPONDENT
In the years since 2001, the Cloudland Highlanders and Rockwood Tigers have not faced one another. Last season’s game was to be played at Rockwood but was canceled by COVID concerns and Cloudland was given a 1-0 forfeit win.
This season the 2A Tigers will come to Orr Field on Friday night for a non-conference game with the ‘Landers.
“They have athletes all over the field,” Highlander head coach Zac Benfield said. “Dakota Waldo, Dryston Turner, Landon Watts and Gerald Hannibal is fast and big at the fullback position. At offensive and defensive tackle they have a stud in Nehemiah Storey. They are a tough team.”
Cloudland (1-1 overall) enjoyed a 46-28 conference victory over Unaka last week with senior Gage McKinney rushing for over 300 yards and also returned a kickoff 99 yards. Overall the ‘Landers rushed for over 400 yards and while the passing game has been a bit slow to develop, sophomore quarterback Camden Peppers is improving with each game.
Peppers finished 4-for-6 for 50 yards and one touchdown toss against the Rangers.
“Peppers is coming along,” Benfield said. “He bounced back from the Happy Valley game and had a good game against Unaka. He hit Cayden Clarke on an out route for a touchdown on 4th and eight and that was a big play.”
Rockwood (1-1 overall) come in off a 35-0 loss to Sweetwater after beating Oliver Springs 42-9 in the season opener. The Tigers have three quarterbacks on the roster starting with senior Landon Watts. They also have junior Maddox Ellison and senior Dryston Turner under center.
Senior RB’s Dakota Waldo and Eric Thurmond along with fullbacks Gerald Hannibal and juniors Levi Ellison and Brodie Webb are available in the run game. The Tigers list junior WR Noah Walden as a starter and have junior Samuel McNallie at the tight end position.
For Cloudland, senior WR Cayden Clarke had a touchdown reception and has had touchdown catches in both of the ‘Landers games this season catching a 22-yard scoring strike against Happy Valley in the opener. Junior RB Kyle Birchfield rushed for 71 yards on 13 carries in the win over Unaka.
“Cayden is a dog; he has worked hard in the weight room and has gotten better and better,” Benfield said. “Gage McKinney depending on the situation will play wide receiver or running back. If we are under center he will be a running back and if we spread out he’ll be a receiver. Gage is a football player. Our guys up front really had a good game, Dylan McClellan, Silas Burleson and Jacob Street and really all my linemen had good games.”

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