Boyd-Buchanan stands in way of Highlanders

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff
tbrown@starhq.com

   With a solid victory last Friday over Greenback, the Cloudland Highlanders are once again gracing the doorstep to Murfreesboro, but this Friday's matchup with the Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers will be a difficult test.
   With weapons on offense the likes of which Cloudland (13-0) has yet to see this season, the Bucs (12-1) will pose a viable threat to the Highlander' playoff hopes.
   So far this season the 'Landers have proven they can stop a prolific running team, and last Friday they contained a potent passing attack.
   This week the 'Landers' defensive unit will be put to its toughest task, stopping a team which can do both.
   Buccaneer tailback William Nelson has collected 16 rushing touchdowns this year and averages 6.4 yards per carry. Meanwhile quarterback Will Healy has thrown for 17 touchdowns and is himself a viable rushing threat.
   With weapons at receiver and a solid offensive line to complete the roster, the Boyd Buchanan offense will be a difficult problem to solve.
   Cloudland head coach Mike Lunsford seems quietly concerned with the abilities Boyd can bring to the field.
   "They can run the ball, and they can throw it," Lunsford said. "They do it all."
   He is especially concerned about stopping Healy, "He throws the ball as well as (J.P.) Shelly did last year," Lunsford said. "He's also very agile and he can make plays with his feet."
   "We have to tackle very well," Lunsford said. "We also have to keep Healy contained, and that will be difficult to do."
   On the offensive side of the ball, Cloudland will face a speedy defensive unit that gives up an average of 12.1 points per game. That combined with the caliber of opposition they have faced, and any offensive coordinator would be concerned about the Bucs defense.
   Lunsford has studied the Buccaneer defense in the film room and has concerns of his own heading into the semi-final matchup, "They are so athletic and quick to the ball," Lunsford said. "They make it hard to stay on your blocks."
   Offensively, the 'Landers will need a 110 percent effort from everyone on the roster. Last weeks surprise performance by Cole Gouge may be needed again in order to come out on top. The remainder of the 'Lander role players must play to their potential this week, if Murfreesboro is to be revisited.
   Star players such as Dakota Benfield and Mark Byrd must shine bright, but Lunsford offered up his own recipe for success, "We have to play the best we can," Lunsford said. "We have to stay within ourselves, and not make mistakes."
   With the cards stacked against them, the 'Landers are an underdog for the first time this season. That fact may serve to motivate the Highlander faithful.
   Special teams may well be the difference in this game, as a big return or a botched snap could be key. If the 'Landers can capitalize on those mistakes they are capable of beating the Bucs, but if they are unable to seize their opportunities, the playoff door will be slammed in their face.