Week of big conference matchups

By Wes Holtsclaw

   This week, conference match-ups are the name of the game in our county. After a week of non-conference games, the focus is on playoffs and improving for later meetings with rivals.
   Cloudland still holds the top spot in the state AP poll this week, gaining seven first-place votes. Elizabethton and Hampton both cracked into the vote category.
   Here are this week's match-ups, and what is expected.
   Happy Valley at West Greene: This week, the Happy Valley Warriors will make the trip to West Greene. However, this year's contest will mean a little more for the Warriors and the Buffaloes.
   For the first time in many years, the Buffaloes are 3-0 to begin the season. Victories over Union County, Chuckey-Doak, and North Greene have set the stage for a big conference match-up.
   The Warriors are reeling off of two straight losses to Hampton and Elizabethton, and are looking for a big pick up in this contest.
   I look for Happy Valley and their impressive backfield to pull out a big victory in this contest, but coach Barry Carter and his Buffs will not go down without a fight.
   South Greene at Hampton: If you're looking for a good traditional football game, this is the one to watch Friday night.
   South Greene is 2-1 this season with victories over Johnson County and Rye Cove, and is looking to turn some heads with an unexpected successful season.
   But just like the hit teen show 'Saved By The Bell' had the Zack Attack, Hampton features the Sack Attack. The Hampton defense has been improving each week behind Josh Nave, Adam Potter, Jimmy Sarrett, and Robby England.
   The Bulldogs still the team to beat in the Watauga Conference, and until somebody does it, they will remain at the mountain top. I look for the Hampton defense and Michael Peterson's rushing to both have big nights with a win over the Rebels.
   Elizabethton at Sullivan South: Elizabethton bounced back Friday after a loss to Tennessee High with a big win over hometown rival Happy Valley. This week, the Cyclones travel to Sullivan South for a big conference match-up.
   At this point in the season, wins matter in the Mountain Lakes Conference, and Elizabethton will squash South with a huge win this Friday night. Expect big games from Vince Redd, Walter Brown, Lester Bailey and the 'Orange Crush' secondary.
   Powell Valley at Unaka: You can't talk about surprising teams without mentioning 1-A Powell Valley. The Indians are off to an amazing start, with wins to back their legitimacy.
   Wins over Pineville, Ky.; Cosby, and Union County have given Powell Valley a 3-0 record and a big chance at doing some things on their level this year.
   Unaka is still winless, but have shown signs of improvement throughout the year. The Rangers will give Powell Valley a close game this Friday, but the Indians will hold a top conference spot until Cloudland travels to Speedwell on October 18.
Cosby at Cloudland: There's not much you can say about this game on Roan Mountain, except that the kids will be fired up for this one. And when I say kids, I mean the junior varsity squad.
   Cosby has a decent club this season, but the Cloudland varsity will give them all they can handle with a huge lopsided victory this week. I look for some big games out of some new faces in the Highlander uniforms.
   Unicoi County at Johnson County:
Unicoi County broke into the win column this past week with a win over Unaka, and Johnson County has yet to earn that first win.
   However, as good as the Johnson County defense is playing right now , you can't go against them in this week's contest.
   Can the Blue Devils bounce back with fire against the 'Horns? Can Johnson County earn that first conference victory and spring towards a playoff run? We will have to wait for that one.
   This week's selection is a no-brainer. Byrd tallied over 300 yards in total offense, with 246 yards rushing on 19 attempts with two scores in Cloudland's 35-14 victory over Cherokee. This is Byrd's second selection in this column this season.
   WESLEY'S DEFENSIVE PLAYER(S) OF THE WEEK: Vince Redd - Elizabethton, Dane Christman - Cloudland, Robby England and Adam Potter - Hampton.
   It was hard to choose from these four outstanding athletes. England and Potter sacked Johnson County with a loss, while Christman was busting a move on Cherokee.
   Redd was back in his dominant shape, and is looking for that game to boost him back to where he needs to be.
   Redd tallied 10 tackles with some assists and a blocked punt against Happy Valley, while Christman tallied 10 tackles, three assists, two sacks, and an interception against Cherokee.
   England and Potter both had 14 tackles, with a combined seven sacks. This is Potter's second straight selection.
   WESLEY'S LINEMAN OF THE WEEK: Jake Jenkins - Elizabethton, Jake Gibbs - Cloudland.
   The Elizabethton center has spearheaded the trenches for the Cyclones, helping Walter Brown and the gang as they trounce their opponents on the ground. The Elizabethton linemen have improved tremendously this season, and are saluted for a great job thus far.
   Gibbs is an improving beacon on the Highlander line. The 6-3, 300-pound junior started last season, and has been on the right path in Roan Mountain. Congratulations to this weeks players.

   Last week, I fell through on one of my picks (Volunteer defeated Sullivan East), but held strong with an overall record of 33-7. This week, I am expanding my field to 15 games from this area.
   Elizabethton 36, Sullivan South 18
   Happy Valley 28, West Greene 12
   Johnson County 26, Unicoi County 7
   Hampton 24, South Greene 10
   Cloudland 62, Cosby 0
   Tennessee High 29, Virginia High 24
   Jefferson County 28, Dobyns-Bennett 22
   Volunteer 35, David Crockett 27
   Science Hill 18, Sevier County 10
   Maryville 42, Morristown West 28
   MBA 48, Knox Webb 12
   Oliver Springs 26, Rockwood 18
   Brentwood 44, Centennial 22
   Oakland 38, Lebanon 12
   Germantown 55, Collierville 30