EHS prepares for dogfight with 'Horns

By Allen LaMountain

   While the Elizabethton Cyclones and Johnson County Longhorns have yet to face each other in any meaningful action, they won't be exactly strangers when they collide tonight at Brown-Childress Stadium.
   Johnson County comes in with a 4-3 overall record, but the 'Horns stand with a 3-1 record in Big Eight play, while the Cyclones now are 2-2 conference, 3-4 overall.
   A Betsy win puts them in third place ahead of the 'Horns with both having 3-2 conference marks. A Longhorn win keeps their conference title chances alive as they finish with Tennessee High and Sullivan South.
   Each team has faced the same foes the past two weeks, before tonight's Big Eight Conference clash.
   Two weeks ago while the Cyclones were dismantling Sullivan East by a 64-21 tally, the 'Horns were taking the measure of Daniel Boone by a 34-14 margin.
   Last week the two exchanged foes as Betsy dropped Boone 34-7, while Johnson County struggled at home against East.
   "East played very well last week, and we didn't play so well," said Longhorns head coach Mike Atwood in explaining the differential between what Betsy did against East and what the 'Horns were able to do. "Our kids are eager to play this game. Elizabethton has always had a good program there, one of the better programs in East Tennessee in fact. But, we feel that if we can beat them we can put ourselves on the map."
   For their part, the Cyclone coaches have done a fine job of shuffling the deck and getting the line of scrimmage established in their favor over the last few weeks.
   "We've had to move some people around on both lines," said Cyclone head coach Tommy Jenkins. "But I won't feel any hesitation about putting any of our guys in there in any situation."
   On the defensive line Jon David Jativa has stepped in at defensive tackle -- moving from outside linebacker -- and has helped give the Cyclones the kind of inside push they haven't had with his combination of strength and quickness.
   "He has been such a benefit to us," said Jenkins. "Seldom do you get a guy that can make a move like Jativa did from linebacker to nose tackle and go from defending the pass to rushing the passer. He and guys like (Matt) Myers and (Wil) McNeely have stepped up considerably and deserve the credit.
   "Boone tried to run at us with a tight (formation) and blow us off the ball, but weren't able to do that."
   The Cyclones surrendered 139 yards on the ground to Boone, with most of that yardage coming on a fourth quarter touchdown drive in which Betsy was playing a lot of young guys, with the game already in hand.
   The 'Horns played fairly well defensively against the Patriots, giving up 146 yards on the ground, and just six points, to a team that has not been noted as a strong running team.
   By contrast the Pats rushed for 199 yards against EHS, but again, a lot of that yardage came in the second half with the decision already in the bag, as Betsy led 44-7 at the half.
   The 'Horns boast a strong running game with both fullback Jonah Dunn and quarterback Adam Johnson putting up big rushing numbers.
   Dunn has gained 298 yards rushing on the season, but 197 of that has come in the last two weeks. Johnson has rushed for 254 yards on the season, but 217 of those yards have come in the last two games as well.
   For Betsy, tailback Walter Brown has tallied 479 yards on the ground for the season, and will be a focal point of the Cyclone attack.
   "It's going to be a chore, but our guys are looking forward to this game," said Atwood. "EHS is a very athletic team with a lot of speed, but we'll try to keep the focus on not having turnovers or mental breakdowns."
   Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. on Dave Rider Field.