Cloudland hammers North Greene, 60-6

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff

   Despite squaring off against North Greene, the Cloudland Highlanders are finding ways to improve. That improvement was showcased Friday night with a 60-6 shellacking of the visiting Huskies.
   The Highlanders are continuing to put the pieces together this season, learning from last season's small errors and improving in every facet of the ball game.
   The big story this week was what quarterback Mark Byrd did, (and what he did not do). Byrd passed for 120 yards and three touchdowns while showcasing a 4-wide shotgun formation. Meanwhile the stellar junior had two touchdown runs, and a punt return for a touchdown called back due to useless penalties.
   As the rushing game continues to come together, and with the emergence of a newfound passing attack, the 'Landers (3-0) are looking impressive as the quest for last season's dominance continues.
   With the struggling Huskies (0-2) coming to Orr Field, the heavily favored 'Landers took the opportunity to work on some of the finer points of the offense in preparation for Cherokee next week.
   But on Roan Mountain they take them one at a time, and first on the agenda was putting away North Greene. By the end of the first period it was evident that Cloudland was firmly in command.
   After forcing North Greene to go 4 and out, Byrd took the punt to the house for a big play. However, the run would be called back.
   Cloudland set up shop on the Husky 48-yard line and scored on 15-yard touchdown strike by Dustin Sluder to go up early 6-0.
   The next attack would come from the air as Byrd found his stride early in the passing game.
   Gouge would be the recipient of a fine pass, and 34 yards later the 'Landers were up by a pair of touchdowns, 13-0.
   But the first period was far from over. Dakota Benfield and Derrick Birchfield would add touchdowns of 15 and 60 yards, respectively, and the rout was on.
   The second quarter would bring more of the same for the 'Landers as Byrd started things off with a 25-yard TD strike to Nathaniel Baker.
   Cloudland skipper Mike Lunsford is pleased with his offense's improvement, especially with the prowess of the passing attack.
   "He threw the ball better tonight," said Lunsford of Byrd. "It's something we've been working on over the past week. It's something we want to get better at."
   While busy taking care of business up top, the Cloudland defense was shutting down the North Greene offense, allowing only one score on a big run by Travis Ormsbee up the gut.
   The defensive dominance of the 'Landers was painfully evident not only in the rushing game, but they looked solid in the secondary, allowing only 72 passing yards on 18 attempts by the Huskies.
   Overall Lunsford was upbeat about the continued improvement of his club.
   "We left some of our line in the game a little longer than usual. We ran out of kids last year and we need to get better," said Lunsford. "We are in better shape than we were last season."
   The big matchup will be coming up this week, however, as the 'Landers go on the road to Rogersville to avenge last season's lone regular season loss to Cherokee.
   "I think the kids had this one marked on the calendar from the first practice," said Lunsford of the upcoming game. "We've got a big week coming up."
   Cherokee will be a big game indeed as the 'Landers will see some more passing attack from the solid yet struggling Chiefs.