Cyclone special teams proving truly 'special'

   Most high school football coaches look at special teams and simply pray that nothing bad happens. That isn't the case with the Elizabethton Cyclones.
   The Cyclones under special teams coach Brian Moore look at it as a way to put points on the scoreboard. "We practice special teams quite a bit. We stay at it a little longer after practice," commented Moore. "The kids take pride in being on special teams. A lot of football teams look at it as a way to get some young players on the field.
   "We look at it as a chance to get ourselves in scoring position."
   The Cyclones have excelled at it this season scoring six touchdowns on special teams alone.
   Emphasizing speed, the Cyclones can call upon a trio of speedsters to run plays on special teams, with Lester Bailey, Neal Wandell and Walter Brown excelling in their opportunities.
   "I get the 11 best athletes to put on the field for special teams," Moore said. "We learn our assignments, and even the young kids (learn them). We have several sophomores on special teams, and those kids have excelled.
   "It's a reward to play on the special teams, and even kids that have been taken off, work extra hard to get back on."
   Wandell has scored three times on kickoff and punt returns and last week tossed a 65-yard touchdown pass to Brown on a fake punt to take the air out of Boone's sails before the first quarter was in the books.
   "We emphasize special teams in practice a lot," Wandell said. "It's an opportunity to just put your head down and run full speed ahead with a chance to pull off a big play. I really enjoy it."
   Bailey reached the endzone on a 49-yard punt return against Sullivan East and has been a solid contributor all season on punt duties.
   "The guys on the line open up so many holes it's like 'pick one and go at it as hard as you can,'" said Bailey. "If we are able to get to the corner on a kick it's usually clear sailing, because we have so much speed out there."
   Brown scored on the fake punt at Boone and also put a kickoff return in the endzone for the Cyclones only score against Tennessee High.
   "It's a lot of fun playing special teams," Brown said. "We practice so hard on special teams every day during the week. Coach Moore just gives us a lot of confidence, and it's a chance to make a big play."
   Not only has the return game flourished under Moore, but the kicking game as a whole has seen an upturn as both Craig Estep and Lincoln Orellana have excelled at point-after kicks, and each has a field goal to his credit. Furthermore, Michael Porter has excelled as the Cyclone snapper for kicks and punts.
   "Both of those guys have good legs," said Moore. "Lincoln has developed into a good field goal kicker, and Estep gets the ball deep on kickoffs where we like it down around the 10 yard line. Brandon Blevins has done a good job on punts also. We have a lot of guys who can kick the ball well."
   On kickoff returns the Cyclones present a formidable problem for the opposition in who do you kick the ball to. With Wandell and Brown deep, and up-backs Josh Fair and Adam Turley also in the mix, the Cyclones are just a block away from springing a big play on you.
   "They have such good special teams," said Johnson County head coach Mike Atwood, whose team will try to slow the EHS special teams down this week. "We have practiced it more than anything else this week in anticipation of this game. They have such good athletes with speed on their special teams."
   Statements like those show how dangerous the EHS special teams have become this season and as Moore said, "That teams have to prepare so hard for our special teams takes away from how much preparation they get for our offense and defense."
   As a good coach should, Moore always keeps a couple of drawn up plays on hand to break out as the situation arises. "When we see something in a game that we can exploit we always have something in 'the cooker."'