Cyclones riding tidal wave of momentum to Hamblen Co. Friday night

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, August 22, 2023

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Flashing back to the 2022 season, an opening game loss to Science Hill at Citizens Bank Stadium set the Elizabethton Cyclones reeling into a four-game losing streak that the team eventually recouped from to earn a post season run that ended on the road at eventual state champions Anderson County.
Could the result of Friday night’s big win at Kermit Tipton Stadium against the same Hilltopper team help rejuvenate the Cyclones on a march back to the pinnacle of Class 4A football?
Time will tell, but for right now, Cyclone head coach Shawn Witten is feeling pretty darn good about his Cyclones after the effort they put out in last week’s big 27-7 win over Science Hill.
“There is an old coaching saying that a team will see its biggest improvement from week one to week two,” said Witten. “We made mistakes against Science Hill but where we made those mistakes, we made up for it in effort and energy. I don’t know if we saw any more excitement from a team than what we saw on that first score. We were pumped.”
This week, the Cyclones continue their road warrior mentality for the 2023 season when they travel down I-81 to Hamblen Co. to take on the Morristown West Trojans, a 42-12 victor over cross-town rival Morristown East last Friday night.
Morristown West hasn’t been on the Cyclones regular-season schedule for 18 years.
“They are an uncommon opponent and our guys don’t know their tradition,” Witten said. “The fans will be close to the field and it’s a pretty cool place to play. I am expecting Cyclone Nation to show up and show out like they did for the Science Hill game.”
Witten commented that Morristown West is a big school that has both big offensive and defensive lines but expects his Cyclones to show up with another big game like they had in game one of the season.
“We realize that we need to continue to improve in all three phases of the game,” said Witten. “We didn’t turn the football over on offense while our defense forced three turnovers. The defensive score was big and the special teams had two punts inside the 10-yard line and Luke Whaley put us in position to close out the game on that punt return.
“Our defensive line and linebackers played lights out with Ben (Adams) and Mason (Ball) just playing lights out while Landon (Hughes) and Eli (Guess) played huge at the inside tackles. Our secondary was about as consistent as I had ever seen, as we weren’t out of position to allow any big plays to happen and made tackles when they needed to. I hope that interception by Eli was all he needed to take off, while Zach Wallin also had a big interception. Bryson Rowland played solid at the corner.”
After the win, some Cyclone fans were buzzing about how much the team reminded them of the state championship teams, especially how the defense played. Witten realizes this team has a long way to go but feels good about its chances for the rest of the season.
“Friday showed that we are a really good team,” said Witten. “We just have to keep working hard and staying focused.”
Kickoff for Friday night’s contest will be at 7 pm at Burke-Toney Stadium.

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