Highlanders heavy favorites against Huskies

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff
tbrown@starhq.com

   As the season rolls on, the boys on Roan Mountain continue to compile an impressive stat sheet as well as impressive wins. This week brings the North Greene Huskies calling to Orr Field, for a not-so-highly touted contest in Region 1-A.
   After a pair of solid victories over the Bulldogs and the Patriots, the 'Landers are gearing up for the first conference contest against the improved Huskies.
   North Greene is hoping to make a legitimate playoff run this season and has its eyes on the upper echelon of division 1-A. That position is currently occupied by the Highlanders, and the 'Landers are showing no signs of backing down.
   This week has the 'Landers hobbled a bit, as tailback Dakota Benfield will be slowed by a hyperextended arm, while defensive back Gregory Birchfield will be serving a TSSAA suspension thanks to his ejection last week.
   Aside from these setbacks, the 'Landers will look to steamroll the reloading Huskies. The main message that head coach Mike Lunsford is telling his troops is improvement.
   "We want to improve," said Lunsford. "We can't have a week that we don't get better."
   The formula will not be a big surprise again this week as the Huskies will see a big dose of the ground game. Lunsford is not looking to change that approach by throwing the football.
   "I don't think that helps us, by throwing the ball against North Greene," said Lunsford. "I'm kind of like Nebraska. I want to get something out of the passing game, and we are not quite as efficient as we need to be."
   Lunsford will also be looking for the Hogs up front to continue to come together on both sides of the football, as preseason events have put a dent in the strength up front.
   "We have to continue to improve up there too. Working hard to get in better shape is important on the line," said Lunsford.
   The bread-and-butter of the Cloudland ball team relies on their ability up front, and this will be the key focus for the 'Landers for the remainder of the season.
   North Greene is the big question mark in the 1-A conference this season. No one really knows how the Huskies will match up with the teams within their conference. The early-season contests with Hampton can shed some insight on the contest.
   In that case, the advantage definitely goes to Cloudland, as the 'Landers soundly defeated the 'Dogs while Hampton shellacked the Huskies.
   Husky quarterback Dustin Collins, along with a somewhat experienced offensive line, will offer up some firepower in the passing game that will attempt to put a respectable figure on the board against the 'Landers. Meanwhile, Cloudland will hope to stay healthy and tally its first conference victory of the season.
   "We just hope to get through the game unhurt," said Lunsford. "I think we are a better football team than North Greene but the best team doesn't always win. I have been impressed with our boys and their level of play. We just have to keep doing that."