Cyclones size up Chiefs

Photo by Rick Harris
Cornerback Charles Peters and linebacker Derek Nave (44) lead a tough Cyclone defense.


  Although a chief holds the highest rank among all Indian tribes, it will be a team of Rogersville sitting bulls looking to defend their top seed in Region 2-4A against a group of hungry Cyclones.
  The orange and black attack will journey down highway 11W to Hawkins County hoping to advance to the second round of the state playoffs at the expense of Cherokee High School.
  "We've had three good days of practice, so I hope that's an indication of how we might play," stated Cyclone head coach Eddie Pless. "We know Cherokee is a quality opponent, so we've got to play our best in order to advance."
  The Chiefs have shut out three opponents this season, including a 34-0 win over Cloudland in week six.
  "They impress me on defense with their size and quickness and their quarterback is an outstanding athlete," Pless said.
  Cherokee clinched the top seed last Thursday with a 24-0 win over Morristown West. This will be the Chiefs' third trip to the playoffs in four years, and Coach Mike Sivert indicated how special this season has been.
  He was quoted as saying in the Rogersville Review that "this team has accomplished so much during the season. They have a lion-hearted attitude."
  The Chiefs are led by quarterback Dustin Coffey (6-3, 210, Sr.), and Eric Richardson (6-1, 175, Sr.) is a quality receiver who can motor after catching the football.
  Coffey threw for 173 yards last week on 10-of-22 passing while Richardson finished the game with five receptions for 100 yards. The line is anchored by Jake Anderson (6-3, 305, Sr.) and Lance Macanally (6-2, 250, Sr.).
  The linebacking corps of Dustin Jordan, Austin Albright and Shawn Bunch was considered the best in the IMAC Conference. Tight end Casey Sivert (6-4 235. Sr.) blocks well and is very hard to bring down after catching the football.
  The Cyclones are coming off a poor offensive showing in last week's game at Unicoi. The passing game was a non-factor while rushing yards were hard to come by. A solid defensive effort in the second half led to a 16-7 win.
  "We've got to come out and play well on both sides of ball," Pless said. "It's all about survival when you get to this stage."
  The Cyclones rank second in passing behind Sullivan East in the Mountain Lakes Conference with 1,545 yards though 10 games. The ground game has been hit and miss as 'Betsy ranks next to last with 1,184 yards rushing in 10 games.
  The key to the game will be the Cyclone defense. Logan Hyatt had a stellar game last week with two big sacks, and the quickness of the Cyclones might cause some problems for the much larger Chiefs.
  Derek Nave continues to solidify his bid for all-state honors. The senior linebacker leads the team in tackles and has made his presence known among all 'Betsy opponents. Charles Peters is considered one of the top cornerbacks in East Tennessee.
  With the temperatures predicted to drop into the 30s, the kicking game could play a factor. Brian Freeman has proven his worth the entire season, and has field goals of 47 and 42 yards to his credit.
  J.C. Atkinson has raised his play on special teams over the past two games with some good kickoff returns.
  "It's no secret were up against a quality opponent, so we've got to eliminate mistakes in order to win this football game," said Pless. "This will be a stern test for our football team."
  Note: Here are directions to Cherokee High School. Take 181 to Kingsport and exit off at Stone Drive. Turn left at the red light off exit ramp onto 11W. Continue down 11W until you reach the two of Rogersville. Turn left off 11 W onto Highway 66. Continue on 66 for about 3 miles. Cherokee High School will be on the right.