‘Landers to battle Eagles for top conference spot

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, September 20, 2022

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The Cloudland Highlanders are on a collision course with the Cosby Eagles for the top spot in their football conference on Friday night at Large Field. Both squads come in at 1-0 with Cosby defeating Jellico 48-21 and Cloudland having dispatched Unaka 46-28 three weeks ago.
Cloudland comes off a bye week which essentially gives the ‘Landers an extra week of preparation which head coach Zac Benfield said, “We had a good week to get healed up a little bit, get some injuries healed up and our preparation has been good. Cosby is a tough place to play, but we think if we play well, we’ll be ok.”
The Eagles (2-2 overall) have found a quarterback in senior Tyler Turner who has put up some eyepopping numbers this season with 214 passing yards against Sunbright in a 49-20 win and 164 yards against Jellico and 174 yards in a 28-27 loss to Red Boiling Springs.
“Their quarterback is a good athlete,” Benfield said. “We will have to tackle him cleanly in open space and concentrate on containment. He has several good receivers with Hayden Green (number four) his go-to guy. He runs a good go route and number six (Devonte Wigfall) is good in open space.”
One good sign for Cloudland (1-3 overall) is that one way of stopping a good fast-paced offense is with a power run game which is the ‘Landers bread and butter.
“We have to be able to move the ball consistently,” Benfield said. “The run game is important to keep their offense off the field, but I think our defense will hold up well. We have overcome five or six key injuries and will use common sense in how to use these guys.”
The ‘Landers come off a two-week stretch of playing tough 2A schools, dropping a 36-6 clash with Rockwood and a 38-6 loss to top-seeded Hampton.
“We had guys get banged up in those games, but we are much better now,” Benfield said. “The key for any team is to get better each week and that’s what we are trying to do. These kids all work hard.”
Sophomore quarterback Camden Peppers has seen some ups and downs this season and will have to play under control to maximize the ‘Landers opportunities on offense. Senior Gage McKinney has been stellar wherever Benfield and his staff have used him and the line of scrimmage has been stout.
Junior Kyle Benfield brings a change of pace at running back and both Austin Caraway and Cayden Clarke have had moments of solid production on both sides of the ball.
Game time is 7:30 pm.

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