Cyclones look to rebound at Boone

By Ivan Sanders
Four points is the quantitative difference between the Elizabethton Cyclones being 5-1 on the season instead of sitting with only two wins in six tries.
Yet, all hope is not lost because the Cyclones, for the time being, hold their destiny in the palm of their hands and can still claim the conference title by finishing out the remaining of the schedule unbeaten.
The season has held many storms that the young Cyclones have had to sail through. Still, at this critical point of the season, the team can hold its head high knowing they've been knocked down, but still have the opportunity to get up off the canvas and finish with a flurry.
"We know a lot of problems last week were how we prepared for the game with East, so we have made a concerted effort to improve our practices this week, to be better prepared for Boone tonight," said Cyclone coach Eddie Pless, who once again will be filling in for head coach Tommy Jenkins.
"We got off to a good start early in the week and tried to emphasis to the team that good things don't happen on Friday nights unless you work hard in practice all week."
Many people have criticized the job the Cyclones have done, but if one took a step back to see how many obstacles this group of young men has be able to conquer and still remain in the hunt for the Mountain Lakes Conference title, it's mind-boggling.
Take, for instance, the loss of at least eight players due to injury and recently finding out their head coach, Tommy Jenkins, is battling through another storm of his own off the field. The Cyclones can take heart in knowing that even though the numbers are not very favorable in the win column, they still have the ability to accomplish their preseason goal of a championship beginning tonight with Daniel Boone.
Said Pless: "We know that Boone is a very good team and the offensive schemes they run force a team to almost prepare two different defensive schemes. They can run from a traditional set or spread a defense out and throw the ball. They have a very talented tailback that has allowed them to mix up their offense."
The missing link the entire season appears to be the absence of a leader that past Cyclone teams have been fortunate to have like the Wittens, Shaun and Jason. The key to the remaining schedule appears to be if the team can become a fully unified squad from the freshmen and sophomores all the way up to the senior players.
With the injuries, several people have had to step up and fill some big shoes. Last week saw the emergence of two players, David Lyons and Josh Broyles, that were used very little earlier in the season, but made some big plays last week against East.
"I am starting to feel a lot more confident and it just seems I learn so much each day I go on the practice field," said Broyles. "The game against Boone will help set the tone for the rest of the season and I think we are ready to bounce back and work hard for a win."
Last week, the Cyclone defense had played well for three and a half quarters until the winning drive East mounted late. Another important key for the Cyclones will be the defense's ability to keep Boone from scoring early and mount positive drives on offense when they have the football.
"East got lucky on that last drive, especially with the run (Matt) Eads had of 50-yards," said defensive end Logan Hyatt. "We need to step it up, get our heads on straight, and concentrate on what we are trying to do and go with a lot of intensity against Boone."
The one thing the Cyclones will definitely need to do is get a the offense to click by placing some points on the board, which will be a very challenging task against a rock-solid Boone defense. Yet, there was some good things that happened last week in the loss with the tough running of fullback Justin Grace and tailback Ernie Bray.
"We have weathered a lot of storms so for this season, and if we can continue to weather those that come early in each game we play, then we will be all right the rest of the way," stated Pless.
Tommy Jenkins Update
Many different stories have been circulating about the health of Cyclone head coach Tommy Jenkins. In speaking with Jenkins Thursday at the pre-game meal, his only desire was that the truth be known.
Coach Jenkins went through a procedure last week that determined there was a cancerous tumor located in the pancreatic region of his body. A stint was put in to give some relief from the fatigue and loss of energy, and Jenkins stated he felt more energetic than he has been in a while, even making it through a whole practice on Wednesday.
Samples were taken, and as of Thursday evening, the results had not come back to determine if the tumor was benign or malignant. Upon the urging of family and friends, paperwork is in process for Jenkins to go to John Hopkins Hospital, a leading medical facility in the treatment of cancer in the pancreas.
Jenkins will be attending the game at Boone to encourage his team as it fights for the conference championship. He wanted to make sure the fans knew there is a lot of fight left in him as is in the Cyclone team that will take the field tonight.
The prayers of all those that know Coach Jenkins and his family are what is cherished most at this time.