Unforgettable season for unforgettable seniors

After Friday's game against the Ezell-Harding Eagles, the season was over for five Cloudland seniors: four linemen and one stellar receiver.
   Blood, sweat, and tears were all shared by these young men on and off the field. Regardless of the outcome Friday, they were heroes.
   Brandon Odom has started for four years. He has played everywhere from fullback to offensive tackle, tight end to defensive end. He was a leader and a famed member of the 'beefy boys, and is being recruited to play college football.
   This year he took his rightful spot as the team's captain, and was one of the hardest hitters in East Tennessee. A local coach said it best: "If you overlook that Odom boy, you're gonna get killed.' Ezell never overlooked him Friday, as he was one of their main focuses.
   "Our whole season was great," said Odom after Friday's contest, "I have loved playing with all of these boys. I just can't say nothing else about it. It was great."
   Odom was one of the guys defenses just try to work around, an example of that was the championship game. Brandon gave his all, even when the team was down. So did Keith Buchanan.
   Buchanan was the workhorse of the team. He has came back throughout his life from physical disability, to being a strong football machine. Last year, he was hurt at the beginning of the season and came out this year and played each game.
   Keith was born with a clubbed foot and had numerous surgeries throughout his life. He has proven time and again that regardless of what people say, if he is hurting, he will give his all and his heart to the cause. This season was an example of that.
   "We had a wonderful season," said 'Big' Keith, "It was the best ball team that anybody could play on. I have a lot of friends out here, it's been more like been more like family here. It was just the best team I could play on."
   Keith was a star on defense and offense. He was one of the guys that made it hard to run against Cloudland. When he was on offense, he was a staple of good blocking. Another example of that is his best friend John Hicks.
   John Hicks has played football for the Highlanders since his 8th grade year. He began starting at center during his sophomore campaign. He was a true athlete and starter. He perfected the position of snapping the football for two good quarterbacks (Mack Greene and Mark Byrd).
   "We had a good one," said Hicks. "We worked hard to get here, I don't know what happened. I just don't know."
   Hicks was one of the underlooked parts of the team, but he was probably the most vital. Without him, the Highlanders would have been in a tight spot for a center.
   Hicks and Buchanan were the Hawk and Animal of the Cloudland team. Famed for their wild haircuts and charm. Many believe to this day that they were both over thirty years old, they weren't, but they held their own like Jon Townson.
   Jon Townson has had a remarkable year as a tackle for the Highlanders. He stepped in this season when they needed him most, and pancaked many players time and again.
   "We lost tonight, it stunk." said Townson after the game, "I'm just glad I got to play with all of these friends. I'm thankful to the coaches and the fans for all of their support. This team will always be number one in my heart."
   Jon has played the past four years as well. He was one of the hardest blockers on the team, and he also played defense when they needed him. He would never give up, even if the team was down, he stuck it out and played the best he could like Jonathan Gibbs
   Jonathan Gibbs was the surprise player on the Cloudland team this year. He was a stellar receiver and cornerback, anad a vital part in the rebuilding process of the Cloudland secondary.
   He made a huge impact at the beginning of the state championship game, with a large reception from Byrd. He was disappointed at the end but held his head high.
   "It was a year nobody will forget," said Gibbs.
   Gibbs was one of the littlest guys on the team, and scared the team when he was sent to the hospital against Cherokee. But he came back the following week with an interception and a score proving that it would take something more to take him out.
   All of these seniors did something no group in this county has ever done.
   Their hearts and leadership carried Cloudland to the state championship game.
   Regardless of whether Ezell-Harding's seniors had bigger names or recruited, these home grown boys gave their all for a small town that will remember them for years to come.
   Their legacy will be hard to topple, and they have nothing to ever be ashamed of.