Cyclones aim to shut down Cocks

By Allen LaMountain


   A 55-14 win in Erwin last Friday night ensured the Cyclones second place in the Mountain Lakes Conference and a home contest in the opening round of the TSSAA 4-A playoffs.
   Their opponent -- the Cocke County Fighting Cocks -- comes in with a two-game win streak and an option-type offense hitting on all cylinders.
   "They run the veer offense," said EHS head coach Tommy Jenkins. "It's an offense that requires you to do specific things defensively. Their quarterback is a very good player, but we have a specific way we are going to play the weak side and the tight-end side."
   For 'Betsy it comes down to running the football and keeping Carmichael and his offense off the field with ball control and long sustained drives. That means a lot of work for EHS senior tailback Walter Brown, who comes off a record-setting season in which Brown rushed for 1,668 yards and 23 touchdowns.
   "We will have to have a lot of focus on Brown," said Cocke County head coach Wes Jones. "We can't give all our focus to him because (EHS) has a lot of weapons. That kid Bailey is a deep threat, and when their QB has a chance to set up and throw, they make a good combination. Also that big kid Redd at TE will be someone we have to be aware of as well."
   The Ryan Curtis-to-Bailey combination has faltered somewhat in the last two weeks, with Bailey having one reception against Sullivan Central and getting blanked against Unicoi County.
   Curtis finished slowly this season, but will hopefully show the home crowd the type of quarterback skills he has flashed all season. Curtis finished the season with 70-of-135 passing (51.9 percent) for 872 yards with eight scoring tosses.
   Bailey -- a big play threat on both offense and defense -- caught 17 balls this season for 320 yards (18.8 ypr) and four scores. Bailey also matches up with opponents top pass catchers as well and has not been beaten badly all season.
   "Cocke County has a very capable team," said Jenkins. "And if we don't play to our capabilities it will hurt us. They have a very athletic team that comes here with some momentum. They beat a very good Volunteer team."
   Needing a win in the last game of the season to make the playoffs Cocke County (3-3, 4-6 overall) had to knock off a Volunteer (3-3, 6-4) squad that had won six games in the 2002 season.
   With QB Jerome Carmichael and RB Steven Ball (20 rushes, 97 yds) leading the way the Roosters emerged with a big win over the Falcons and vaulted Cocke County past Volunteer into third place in the Five Rivers Conference.
   "It was a big win for us," said Jones. "We needed to win just to get in and Jerome (Carmichael) led us to it."
   The Big Red QB had a 13-of-20 night passing with a pair of touchdown tosses to lead Cocke County, and Jones knows that another such effort may be required to emerge from Brown-Childress Stadium with a win.
   Carmichael's numbers for the season have been solid if not spectacular with 102-of-188 passing (54 percent) for 1,226 yards and seven touchdowns.
   "Carmichael has thrown for better than 1,200 yards," said Jones. "He completed better than 50 percent of his passes, and ran for 300 plus yards. A lot of our offense runs through him."
   Running a veer option offense requires a quarterback that makes good decisions on who to hand off to and that knows when to tuck the ball under his arm and run.
   "Carmichael is very good at reading the defensive end on the side we are running to," commented Jones. "We will try and take what the defense gives us. We need to play ball control offense and that has been our philosophy all season. We aren't blessed with a lot of team speed so we have to keep mistakes to a minimum."
   'Betsy will have to have a disciplined approach defensively and an attack mentality on offense and can't take the Roosters lightly if EHS wants to get to the second round.
   Game time is set for 7 p.m.