And high school football teams lose much of their mystery.
Here are a few quick looks at Friday night’s opening statements by area teams — including Dobyns-Bennett, Daniel Boone and Sullivan North — along with the Eyeball Test for Elizabethton and Science Hill, a game the Cyclones won 28-20.
THE EYEBALL TEST
• Elizabethton got an above-average grade in every phase of the game.
1. The Cyclones’ offense proved it can threaten through the air and on the ground. Yes, the bulk of success was land-based. But the Cyclones were close to hitting a couple of bombs to Parker Hughes. Teams that don’t have a defender over the top against Hughes this season will likely pay a six-point price.
2. Cade Maupin is a beast and a leader. Friday’s game would have undoubtedly been different without his transfer from Dobyns-Bennett. It’s been said one player can’t make a significant difference in football but in this game, it did. Maupin kept the Hilltoppers from keying on Bryson Rollins, and the two standouts played off each other.
3. The offensive line is good. Coach Shawn Witten advertised it as such in the preseason and wasn’t blowing smoke.
4. The defense is going to give Class 4A teams some problems. Yes, Chris Thomas rushed for 217 yards, but it’s unlikely the Cyclones will see another back all season with his ability. And the Cyclones stuffed him several times in the game, twice in key moments.
5. Special teams were on point. There were no problems with kickoff distance or coverage. Extra points were routine, and punting was directionally sound.
• Science Hill didn’t pass with flying colors, but this wasn’t a disheartening loss. Yes, losing to Elizabethton for a second straight season is not fun, but this was a competitive game the Hilltoppers could have won.
1. The offense looked good for an opener, especially considering the youth of the linemen. Thomas earned much of his yardage right up the gut.
2. Through the air, quarterback Connor Batchelder gave the Hilltoppers a chance by consistently hitting the slot routes. And when Science Hill wanted to get the ball down the field, the pass protection was solid.
3. Defense was the area the Hilltoppers probably graded out the lowest. They were unable to consistently stop the Cyclones, who were so confident in getting the needed yards they went with a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 at their own 15-yard line — and converted easily.
4. Special teams were solid. Kicker Kade Hensley pushed the ball into the end zone with ease on kickoffs. He was off target to the right on his first field goal attempt but nailed the next two, one from 40 yards and one that would have been good from 50.
Who was picking Dobyns-Bennett to beat Tennessee High by 20 points? The 33-13 result came after surrendering the first score of the game to the Vikings.
At first blush, the Indians appear to be back to their playoff-threatening selves.
Daniel Boone was expected to have a battle against Sullivan South. Instead the Trailblazers ran roughshod over the Rebels for a 30-6 win.
This is good news for coach Jeremy Jenkins and an uneasy report for Region 1-5A title contenders.
Whoever saw the halftime score of Sullivan North’s game against Sullivan Central probably had a thought similar to this: The Cougars are better than advertised and it’s going to be a long season for the Golden Raiders.
By the time the game was over — North holding a 36-28 victory after trailing by 20 at the break — only one of those thoughts could logically be maintained.
Happy Valley got revenge for last year’s one-point loss to Cloudland, and the Warriors did it in convincing fashion. They built a 19-0 lead before finally surrendering a late score.
Contact Douglas Fritz via email at [email protected]