Cyclones hope to challenge rival 'Toppers


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  Science Hill has an enrollment of 1,949 students while Elizabethton's holds at 752. If my math serves correctly, that's a difference of 1197 students.
  To make matters worse, the Cyclones are dealing with the loss of legendary former player, assistant and head coach Tommy Jenkins, whose death has saddened the Elizabethton faculty, student body, players and coaching staff.
  It's a tall task but the Cyclones will try to slay the giant when the Hilltoppers roll into Brown-Childress Stadium tonight.
  "When preparing for Science Hill you think of depth, athleticism, team speed and well-coached," said Eddie Pless, ready to make his debut as the Cyclones' head coach. "It seems they always play smart and hard with very few mistakes."
  Elizabethton will try to throw some new wrinkles at the Hill when on the offensive side of the football.
  "We have three quarterbacks, Weston Jeffers, Charles Peters and Preston Smith, who all bring something different to the table," added offensive coordinator Steve "Pink" McKinney. "We could use any of three different game plans depending on which one is in the game."
  The Cyclones hope their running game will develop against a solid Hilltopper front that averages some 235 pounds in the line. James Peterson, Jake Berkley and Brent Shaver hope to carry load at tailback."
  "Each has their own style but all put forth tremendous efforts," said McKinney. "You could see Berkley at tailback or wide receiver."
  Steven Bowers, Josh Harmon and Josh Hutchins give 'Betsy much-needed depth at the fullback position.
  "I won't hesitate to play any of the three," said McKinney. "I am real high on our receivers. Ryan Kennedy, Nathan Bishop, J.C. Atkinson, Levi Hooton and Berkley are as good of group as we've had as a whole. You could see us go five wide at some stage in the game."
  Derek Nave will play tight end on offense and weakside linebacker on defense.
  "Nave is the catalyst of our defense," stated defensive coordinator Richard VanHuss. "He's has all the tools to play at the next level."
  McKinney added the offensive line was small but would fight from start to finish.
  "Coach (Brian) Moore has worked so hard with these lineman to get them where they are," he said.
  Logan Hyatt and Landon Shields will man the tackle positions while Trevor Hyder and Matt Fox hunker down at the guard slots. The Cyclones hope to have the services of Tony Sullivan at center. Josh Arnold will also get some snaps as well.
  The defense will rely heavily on Peters and Mitchell Blevins to stymie the Topper offense.
  "We need to be able to keep them from breaking the big play," said VanHuss. "You've hope to contain them and force some turnovers. We will give them some different looks throughout the game."
  "This group of players fit the mold as to what we want as a football team," added Pless. "They are coachable kids, get along well with one another and eager to learn."
  Many of the players have indicated they want to win this game for Coach Jenkins.
  "Tommy meant so much to these players," added Pless. "This Cyclone football team is close-knit. Wednesday morning we lost a part of this family, someone who meant so much to each of us."
  Not many are giving the Cyclones a chance at defeating the 'Toppers tonight. 1949 to 752 just don't stack up.
  In the football program, they will have the height and weight of each Cyclone player. What you won't find is a scale or yardstick that indicates the size of their heart.
  'Betsy will play the game of their lives Friday night. Coach Jenkins would have wanted it this way.