For Cyclones, plenty of positives in loss to Greeneville

By Ivan Sanders

   When the final horn sounded at Burley Stadium on Friday night, the Greeneville Green Devils walked away breathing a sigh of relief knowing that they were fortunate to maintain an unblemished record.
   Meanwhile, the Elizabethton Cyclones walked to the dressing room knowing that the scoreboard was not in their favor but realizing they had accomplished many of their objectives, a victory indeed.
   There were many bright spots for the Cyclones on the night against the state's number two ranked team. First of all they had managed to hold a highly-touted offensive unit to a goose egg for the game's first half of action.
   No less than three times had the Greene Devils penetrated deep into EHS territory only to have the defensive unit of the Cyclones step up and shut the door. The play of the front line of Clint Vannoy, Matt Myers, Cody Bunton, Evan Lindauer and Eric Cannon played a key role as they faced off against a much larger GHS line, yet managed to shut down what appeared to be sure scoring drives for the Greene Devils.
   The Cyclone secondary of Michael Porter, Vince Redd, Walter Brown, Adam Turley, Lester Bailey, Derrick Nave, Mitchell Bowers, Phillip Garland and Nathan Bishop all were involved in defensive tackles or coverages that frustrated QB Cody Baugh into many bad passing situations, resulting in turnovers on fourth down plays.
   What I am trying to convey is that the Cyclones defensive effort was above and beyond what many thought they would be able to do. They stood toe-to-toe with a much larger unit and still provided too many big hits to mention.
   Secondly, the offensive unit proved many things to themselves as well. The offensive line of Cody Fair, Brandon Collins, Jake Jenkins, Chad Street, Wes Greer and Daniel Wagner gave Cyclone QB Ryan Curtis ample time to connect with his receivers on passing plays as well as opening several holes that Brown, Bowers and Curtis could run through.
   Take away one broken pass coverage and one fumble that resulted in a TD, the game was an evenly-played contest that could have gone either way. The Cyclones sent a message to Greeneville that they were not the big, bad Devils they thought themselves to be.
   The season is now at the halfway point and with this performance Elizabethton fans should not be ready to concede anything at this point. EHS has games left with East, Boone, Central, Johnson County and Unicoi County, which are all games the Cyclones should be able to handle.
   That would place the Cyclones with an 8-2 overall mark and second in the conference unless the wheels come off the Tennessee High Vikings' road to a second straight district title. At this point, it seems that EHS might square off against the Volunteer Falcons, who stand in third place with a 5-1 mark in their conference behind Greeneville and Morristown West.
   Yes, I realize that each game must be approached with caution and I am sure the coaching staff will also reiterate to the team the dark side of overlooking an opponent. The preceding was just an analogy if the season were to end today.
   The game against Greeneville will undoubtedly create a sense of positiveness when the Cyclones take the practice field in preparation for their homecoming game Friday night at Brown-Childress Stadium. An upbeat tone should prevail, even with another blemish on their slate, because they made a statement against a team that many felt would crush the Cyclones by a huge margin.
   If nothing else, the Tennessee High Vikings that were in attendance in the Cyclone stands on Friday night realize that if they cross paths again with the Cyclones, nothing should be taking for granted. This Cyclone team is growing by leaps and bounds each week and after they spend five more weeks of practice and play, they will be ready to revenge the two losses suffered this season.
   No, the Cyclones didn't lose Friday's contest, they won -- they proved their mettle, their toughness, and their Cyclone Pride. Many have taken offense to this writer this season about his sidebar and picks on the Cyclones, but all was done for the purpose of lighting some emotions from the players who I have grown to know and love with my heart.
   There is no longer needed of such articles anymore because these Cyclones now believe in themselves and their ability. They proved to themselves, their coaches and their fans they are Cyclones and the pride of being such means much more than what the scoreboard read at Burley Stadium Friday night.
   **Note** The Cyclones were missing the services of defensive end Daniel Merryman, who tore his ACL and will need corrective surgery to repair it. Cannon filled in nicely for Merryman, but the experience Merryman brought to the Cyclones line will definitely be missed.
   Another bright spot for the Cyclones was that of freshman Charles Peters. Peters, who has had an outstanding season with the junior varsity, was inserted late in the game on Friday with Baugh trying to pick on the young man early. Three consecutive times the Devils went for the end zone only to have Peters provide excellent coverage all three times.
   This week is homecoming at Elizabethton High School with several activities planned throughout the week. All Cyclone fans are encouraged to pack the stands Friday night and help make Homecoming '02 something special for the Cyclone team, cheerleaders, and band.