'Betsy takes on underdog role vs. Morristown West

By Allen LaMountain
ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
awlamountain@starhq.com

   After a season in which the Elizabethton Cyclones were considered heavy favorites in most of the contests they played, tonight they go on the road as heavy underdogs to the Morristown West Trojans.
   Morristown West has been ranked in the top 10 of the TSSAA 4A classification, and comes into the game with an impressive record of 10-1, but head coach Don Woods is not one to take any opponent for granted.
   "Elizabethton is a well-coached, disciplined team," said Woods. "It both an honor and a privilege to compete against them. They have some tremendous athletes and they present a tough challenge for my team."
   The only mar on West's record was a week four 49-7 loss to a Maryville squad that has been ranked number 1 in 4A football all season.
   Individually, the Cyclones matchup well with the Trojans when looking at the numbers put up by each team. West RB Chris Davis finished third in the Five Rivers (formerly IMAC) Conference in scoring with 102 points, and was also third in rushing with 1,002 yards.
   EHS features senior RB Walter Brown, who had no peer in the Mountain Lakes Conference scoring 23 touchdowns (not counting the three Brown scored against Cocke County) and converting a pair of two-point conversions for a total of 142 points. Brown also rushed for 1,668 yards in what has been a stellar campaign.
   "We will need to get a good focus on number 20," Woods commented. "He has good outside speed, but he can take the ball up the middle with power, too."
   West had the top-ranked rushing offense and defense in the Five Rivers Conference, which should provide 'Betsy with a massive challenge on both sides of the ball.
   "Certainly they provide a tremendous challenge for us," said EHS head coach Tommy Jenkins. "They are big up front, and they have talented skill people. West's QB (Drew Southerland) threw for some 1,300 yards and they mix the run and pass very well."
   EHS senior QB Ryan Curtis accepts the challenge put forth by Southerland's gaudy numbers, and countered with some fine numbers of his own. Curtis has passed for 872 yards with eight touchdown strikes.
   Both quarterbacks were in the 52 percent completion range.
   "We had a great week of practice this week throwing the ball," commented Curtis. "We have good receivers here that run good routes, and I think that we can have a good mix of run and pass. It all starts over in the playoffs."
   Defensively the Trojans will have to deal with an EHS defense that allowed just 221 points this season (22.1 average), and is improving weekly. In fact, in the last eight weeks Betsy has given up just 145 points (18.1 average) which includes the 27 points the Greene Devils scored in week five.
   "For them it al starts with number four," said Woods referring to Cyclone senior LB Vince Redd. "You can't run at him because he's so strong, and you can't run away from him because he'll run you down. They also have two of the very best corners I have seen this year in Bailey and Brown. (EHS) represents a real challenge offensively for us."
   Redd, who stands tall in the middle of the Betsy defense, and led the team in total tackles, said: "We just want to try to get another game. I think if we play hard in the middle on defense we'll be all right."
   Jenkins said of Redd's season: "Vince has made more plays than what you would think, and has had some awfully good stretches in games. But, I would like to see him have that real breakout type of game, like he had at Cherokee last year."
   EHS gets back a stalwart on both sides of the line of scrimmage with the return of Chad Street, who has been out with a knee injury.
   "Street passed his physical this week and will play," Jenkins said. "That will be a boost for us. We'll need every healthy body we have."
   Due to a quirk in the TSSAA playoff brackets, a win by the Cyclones over Morristown West and a Greeneville victory over Tennessee High would give the Cyclones a home game in the third round versus the Greene Devils.
   "That alone should be a good incentive for us," said Jenkins. "But really, we would just like to be playing against somebody next week."
   EHS notes: Just a few more statistical tidbits. 'Betsy scored an average of 36.9 points per game, while West had a 38.5 norm. Defensively, West surrendered an average of 17.3 ppg against the 22.1 average given up by the Cyclone defense.