Cyclones brace for Rebels' offense


star staff


  The Elizabethton Cyclone defense shut down a talented offense last Friday, but can they do it for a second straight week?
  That's the big question entering tonight's conference road trip to Sullivan South.
  'Betsy (1-2) recorded a 23-0 victory over the Happy Valley Warriors at home last week, but faces a more potent Rebel offense that has racked up 82 points in its previous two games.
  Coach Eddie Pless and his squad hope they can continue their momentum in a game that was moved from Friday due to the threat of Hurricane Ivan.
  "It gave us a boost of confidence," Pless said Wednesday of the Happy Valley contest. "We played well and we'd like to carry it over. (The South game is) a little bit different. They present a lot of challenges with formations. They come off the ball and block well."
  "They're on the upper swing of things physically," he said. "They are tough and well-coached. They'll stick to you and do things well."
  The South (2-1) squad had a big offensive game in its 42-34 win against Greeneville last week.
  Talented quarterback Spud Cole and tailback Jake McMilan continued their solid game streak after a 40-26 conference win over Daniel Boone the week before.
  Pless noted that his team needed to be able to control the two offensive threats this week.
  "Three-fourths of the time, the ball is in their hand," Pless said. "They are hard-nosed runners and they read blocks well."
  McMilan gained 97 yards on 19 carries with three scores, while Cole gained 99 yards on 26 touches with a pair of scores.
  Aside from their solid ground game, Cole also has four threats in his passing attack.
  "(Cole) throws it well," added the Cyclone coach. "He has two good wideouts and two good tight ends that can run well after the catch. We've got to contain the quarterback."
  The Rebels also have a good kicking game with Matt Dunn, who put two field goals through the uprights last week.
  Elizabethton looks well-prepared. According to strong safety Mitchell Blevins, the team has studied film and need to be more careful in the defensive backfield.
  "They're coming off (a win against) Greeneville, so they'll be ready for this game," Blevins said. "Our defense did pretty good last week and we're hoping to stay strong. We can't come up (in coverage) like we did against Happy Valley. We've got to stay in our positions and watch the quarterback."
  One area Elizabethton hopes to continue improvement is its running game.
  Junior tailback James Peterson gained 60 yards on 17 carries last week against the Warriors. He said he was feeling more confident after last week.
  "I'm excited about the game, but it's a short week," Peterson said. "I'm feeling more confident and I think we're well-prepared."
  Of course, any conference win is a big win, but this early in the season, the Cyclones could use a win to stay in position for a possible run at Tennessee High.
  "Everybody's going to be chasing Tennessee High," Pless said. "A win in this game keeps you in position to hope someone knocks them off."