'Landers eye win vs. Cosby
Asst. Sports Editor
The Cloudland Highlanders will attempt to jump another hurdle this Friday night when they will take on another Mountain East conference foe in the Cosby Eagles at Orr Field for their homecoming night celebration.
"We have to go into the game thinking," quarterback Toby King said. "We have to go in there and play our hardest, do our best and then get ready for Unaka. The win [against Jellico] was a big boost for us. If we play Cosby the best we can, we should beat them."
The 'Landers stand 2-0 in the conference, 2-4 overall, while Cosby stands 0-2 and has yet to be in the victory column all season.
The Eagles took a 49-15 loss last week to Unaka. They have also taken losses from Mt. Juliet Christian, 21-20; Jellico, 28-14; Zion Academy, 12-7; and a 47-0 shutout to Thomas Walker in Virginia.
"The kids are not stupid," Highlander head coach Gary Keith said. "They know that Jellico beat Cosby 28-14. You try and keep them focused and you try and keep their mind on playing well and improving every game. I think they will.
"I haven't seen any film on Cosby," he said. "I am hoping that will come in tomorrow. Everyone has said that they run the double wing stuff, but that seems like that is all we have seen all year. It has to be a pretty good offense because everyone has started running it. It's been helpful that we have seen it. I hope that we are prepared. They have pretty big kids."
Cosby head coach Darrell Miller is also in the same boat as far as knowing what to expect in the game.
"I haven't seen [Cloudland]," Cosby head coach Darrell Miller. "I don't really know what to expect. Our interception rate is higher that our receiving rate. The games are getting closer but we are not where we need to be."
Last week at Unaka, the Rangers forced five fumbles on starting quarterback Levi Cooper.
"We haven't had that many fumbles all year," Miller said. "Unaka was hitting us pretty hard. When they hit you that hard, you are going to fumble."
Derek Coleman is the Eagles leading runner, although Miller says that it hasn't been intentional.
"He isn't really our go-to-guy," he said. "He has just broken more plays. We rotate backs pretty regularly. He has just been there when there have been openings."
Paul McMahan and Jody Lowe scored their first touchdowns against the Rangers, although neither one is a starter.
"We were out of the game early, so we put a lot of the younger players in," Miller said.
Senior Jason Whitlock is another ball carrier that the 'Landers will have to look for.
"I wish he could have played under me for four years," Miller said. "He has gotten better and better every game. He will be seeing a bit of time this Friday."
Coleman led the team on the ground last week with 106 yards on 11 carries. Whitlock had 34 on four carries, McMahan had 29 yards on five carries and Lowe had 15 yards on six carries.
In the air, Cooper was one-of-eight for a yard.
"We can't get a big head and we can't underestimate Cosby," running back Jonah Horney said. "They could still come out and beat us. I am looking forward to it. I can't stand it to sit on the sidelines."
Cloudland defeated Cosby last season by a 59-6 decision. The 'Landers had 572 total yards while the Eagles had 276, six of those in the air, with four fumbles.
Horney went 2-21 rushing while Jordan Buck went 1-10. For Cosby, Cooper went 3-8 and Lowe went 5-25.
King went 2-for-20 receiving in last year's game, and Horney connected with one for 21 yards.
On the defensive side last year, Jonathan 'Possum' Pritchard had 10 tackles, Horney had four, Buck had two and Luke Sparks had three.
"I am concerned about our kids," Keith said. "This is homecoming week and there is a lot of distractions. That's a big thing up here. There are cars lined up everywhere. It takes 45 minutes to get all the vehicles through. The kids are practicing homecoming court and that stuff. I just want the kids to focus on the game. That is important."
In last week's 50-6 Cloudland rout of Jellico, B.J. Johnson ran for 105 yards and a touchdown while Horney totaled 101 yards and two scores on the ground. Buck intercepted two passes.
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