Sloppy scene for EHS finale

By Ivan Sanders

     It was a final setting that was more appropriate for a herd of swine than two top-notched high school football teams in the second round of the TSSAA playoffs.
     Mud was the crowning glory for the Elizabethton Cyclones in the final game of the 2002 season as these young men left their heart and soul buried deep within the thick slime of Burke-Toney Stadium.
     Many had not even given the Cyclones a slim chance of staying with the 11-1 Morristown Trojans, but as the halftime horn sounded, the Cyclones were one score away from either being even or ahead of the homestanding Trojans at intermission.
     The Cyclones left the field under a steady rain and some juice to their step while the Trojans left with their heads drooped and wondering in the minds if they could pull out a victory against a tough opponent from Elizabethton for a chance to advance to another round.
     The rain stopped, the Trojans returned, and West completed the task before them while the Cyclones, showing Elizabethton pride and sportsmanship, shook hands and wished the Trojans luck in their next battle.
     Many of these Cyclones saw their prep career come to a close while others now have another adversary they must prepare for in the off-season that stands in their way between here and Nashville.
     The Cyclones have nothing to hang their heads about. They played their 'A' game while facing opposition from factors they had no control over such as the elements and adults who are suppose to make the game as fair and equal to both sides as humanly possible.
     Tommy Jenkins and his coaching staff did as good a job as they could in preparing the Cyclones for a tough opponent, but it is impossible to simulate the type of factors that were previously mentioned in practice situations.
     Once again, the Betsy Band stepped to the podium and played a supporting role as these young men and women played with all their might to encourage their friends and classmates onto a potential win.
     Kudos to all the Cyclone fans who braved the rain and cold to support these young men as the Cyclones were constantly swallowing gulps of water and dirt with each play to hopefully satisfy these fans wishes for a victory.
     For the senior members, it was the end to four years of being a close-knit unit, a family if you will. These guys have ate meals at one anothers homes and become adoptive members of each player's family.
     They have practiced, shed blood and tears, and created memorable moments to be remembered for years to come, whether good or bad.
     Most importantly they have represented Elizabethton High School, the city of Elizabethton, and the county of Carter with remarkable spirit, pride, and sportsmanship to which I, as a sportswriter, parent, and fan say "Thank You guys".
     These seniors include Vince Redd, Phillip Garland, Ryan Curtis, Michael Porter, Walter Brown, Chad Street,Matt Myers, Wes Greer, Brandon Collins and Daniel Merryman.
     As for the other Cyclones who will be returning for another season, this game should inspire them to stay in the weight room and work even harder for another shot for a trip to Murfreesboro next season.
     There is a solid core of players who will be returning for the Cyclones next season, including those who haven't got the attention of some of the senior players, yet without whose contributions that this year's team could not have advanced to where it was.
     Names like Cody Bunton, Justin Grace, Jordan Bray, Evan Lindauer, Clinton Vannoy, Cody Fair, Derrick Nave, Eric Cannon, Jake Berkley, Adam Turley, Jake Jenkins, and Daniel Wagner will be back to provide the Cyclone fans with lots of opportunities to stand and cheer.
     Other Cyclones wait in the wings to step up from the freshman and Jr. High levels to wear the proud colors of black and orange. Elizabethton is their home and being a Cyclone is nothing to take lightly.
     Yes, the caked mud will be washed away by laundry detergent and helmets will be cleaned and stowed away for next season. The flags will be put in storage and the pressbox door will be locked until next year.
     But one thing can be counted on, there is another season to be played and with time passing by as quickly as it does, it will seem like only yesterday before we will see the sights, smell the aromas and hear the sounds of high school football as a new edition of the Elizabethton Cyclones take Dave Rider Field once again.