EHS freshman football forecast looks promising

By Ivan Sanders
If Coach Ryan Witten were a weatherman, his extended outlook for the 2003 Elizabethton freshman season would be filled with sunny days.
For the first time in Witten's five years as the head coach of the Cyclone frosh, this could be the year the team has an outside chance to run the gauntlet for an undefeated season, based upon the talent and intelligence fielded by EHS this season.
"This is the largest number of players that I have had the chance of coaching since I've been here, with 35 players out this season," said Witten with an ear-to-ear smile on Wednesday.
"These guys are really tough and have football smarts in that they know where they need to be and what each one's job is on the field, which is something I haven't had since taking over."
Preston Smith will be the field general from the quarterback position on offense and from his defensive back position when on defense. Smith garners the respect needed to be the leader, according to Witten.
"Preston is an outlaw because he's so tough, and the kids really seem to respect him," said Witten. "He earns that respect by the way he handles himself on the field with the way he plays."
Tailback Brent Shaver will be hitting the holes like a rabbit being chased by a fox. Shaver has the capabilities of being a game-changer as evidenced by his play on the junior varsity against Science Hill, where the young man ignited the Cyclone JV to victory with a crushing hit on a punt.
Justin Harmon, Josh Hutchins and A.J. Burke will be called upon for blocking and the tough one or two yards on short down situations from the fullback slot.
Austin Taylor and Josh Guinn could take a line from State Farm Insurance and be called the good hands people, as both can turn the game with one catch. One other player that Witten has been pleasantly surprised by in summer camp is Donyale Watson at a wide receiver.
"Donyale has great hands and can catch the ball either across the middle or deep down the field," quipped Witten. "He's 6-1 and is an excellent target for Preston to throw to."
The offensive line is probably one of the biggest lines in Witten's tenure at the freshman helm. Chase Turley, Zack Potter, and Josh Arnold will anchor the powerful line and will be counted upon heavily to make room for the backs to burst into the open field.
From a defensive prospective, Witten plans on build a strong base by using Turley, Justin Palmer, and Chris Hubbard from respective linebacker positions to anchor the defensive unit.
The smartness possessed by the lineman will be like icing on a cake for the aspiring coach, as he doesn't have to worry about them being where they need to be.
EHS opens the freshman slate at home today at 5:30 p.m. against the Science Hill Hilltoppers. The Cyclones will also host Tennessee High next Tuesday at Brown-Childress Stadium with another 5:30 p.m. kickoff.