Elizabethton braces for Boone

By Allen LaMountain

   Spread it out or grind it out. For Daniel Boone it's pick your poison as the Trailblazers attempt to end the Elizabethton Cyclones stranglehold that has seen 'Betsy win every contest ever played between the two schools tonight at Brown-Childress Stadium.
   "It's a situation that we have talked to the team about," said Cyclone head coach Tommy Jenkins. "This class of seniors does not want to be the one that ends the streak and loses to Boone."
   Boone (2-3, 1-2 MLC) comes in off a two-game winning streak that puts them in prime position to move up the ladder in the Mountain Lakes Conference. Senior QB Chris Clear has taken charge of the 'Blazer offense and has performed well in head coach Carl Richards spread offense.
   Clear was pressed into quarterback service after the season-ending injury to Ben Fox, who opened the season as Boone QB. Clear has some weapons in flankers Patrick Dennison, Doug Owens, and Austin Rader.
   Boone can also move the ball on the ground with the likes of fullback Dustin Breedlove and Clear, of whom Jenkins said: "Can really run the ball from that shotgun formation. We really don't know what offensive philosophy they will try against us. So we will have to be ready for anything."
   The Daniel Boone defense will have to contend with a Cyclone offense operating at peak efficiency in both the running and passing games. EHS tailback Walter Brown should be the focal point of the 'Blazer defensive effort, as Brown is having a tremendous season thus far.
   Brown has lugged the pigskin for 1,045 yards (7.8 yards-per-carry) in a half season of work with 14 scores as he spearheads the 'Betsy ground attack.
   "Boone knows they had better account for Walter," said Jenkins. "But we want to give them more to worry about than just him. I think we have an overall speed advantage on them and we hope to use that to our advantage in all phases of the game."
   EHS certainly gave Sullivan East a taste of that speed as on the game's first play Cyclone senior quarterback Ryan Curtis missed by inches on a deep pass to flanker Lester Bailey on what would have been a big play.
   "We missed by inches on that play and that's exactly the type of thing that gives your opponent something else to think about," said Jenkins. "If we can get them worried about Lester going deep that's half the battle."
   At quarterback senior Ryan Curtis is having another solid season with 544 yards on 48-of-90 passing (53.3 percent) and Bailey is a solid deep threat with 14 receptions for 225 yards (16.1 yards-per-catch) and three touchdown receptions.
   Defensively the Cyclones are playing solid ball with senior LB Vince Redd displaying the talent that has Division 1-A college scouts watching him closely. Senior safety Michael Porter and junior Adam Turley are also continuing to make plays in the 'Betsy secondary.
   On the 'Betsy defensive front, Matt Myers has nailed down the nose tackle position in the Cyclones five-man front along with DE Chad Street, DT Jake Jenkins and DE Cody Bunton also contributing big plays.
   Sophomore Eric Cannon sees plenty of time at DE as well and he has played solidly, as have Evan Lindauer, and Clinton Vannoy along the EHS front line.
   "Last year we had more versatility along the defensive line," Jenkins stated. "We had John David Jativa and he could play equally well at nose tackle or linebacker. So when a team tried something different than usual we could spot it and have Jativa move. This year we have to substitute for the same things. It poses a bit of a problem but is not something we can't overcome."
   Offensively it starts with the line, and these guys have given Brown room to run and Curtis time to pass all season. Jenkins anchors the line from his center position, but has gotten plenty of help from guard Wes Greer and juniors Daniel Wagner and David Anderson as well as senior tackle Brandon Collins.
   "No matter how good a running back or a quarterback you have, it's the guys up front that make things happen for you," continued Jenkins.
   The Boone defense has been a stalwart unit this season, but if the offense can't move the ball against the Cyclones it will be a long night for the visitors.
   "We want to make them have to defend the entire football field," Jenkins said. "We want them to have to defend sideline to sideline and use our speed to create big plays."
   Game time is 7:30.