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Class 4A: Cyclones’ Rollins chosen as Mr. Football semifinalist on eve of playoffs

Douglas Fritz • Nov 8, 2019 at 10:30 AM

Elizabethton got a nice surprise on the eve of its playoff contest.

Just a sophomore, quarterback Bryson Rollins was chosen as a Class 4A Mr. Football semifinalist on Thursday by the TSSAA. He joined Nolensville’s Tim Coutras, Hardin County’s Rivers Hunt, Livingston Academy’s Will McDonald, and Greeneville’s Ty Youngblood on the list.

“That’s a tremendous honor,” said Cyclones coach Shawn Witten. “He has done a great job leading and commanding our offense.”

Three finalists for each classification will be announced Nov. 19 at noon (EST). The winner will be announced on Dec. 2 in Nashville.

Rollins has totaled 2,061 yards and 29 touchdowns as the No. 1-ranked Cyclones head into Friday’s game against Chattanooga East Ridge. Kickoff is set for 7 o’clock at Citizens Bank Stadium.

East Ridge (6-4) at Elizabethton (10-0)

It will be a bit of a different opponent for the Cyclones, as East Ridge likes to keep the ball on the ground with its wing-T offense.

“They have a fast and explosive backfield,” said Witten. “We have to be disciplined on defense.”

To get an idea of East Ridge’s attack, the ground game was in full display in a 48-34 win over Chattanooga Central in Week 8. The Pioneers got 256 yards rushing and four touchdowns from Keanu Johnson. Backfield mate Jaylen Boykin added 84 yards and two scores while quarterback Cameron Sanders totaled 104 yards on the ground with a score. East Ridge attempted only two passes in the game.

As for Elizabethton, the level of its offensive firepower will depend on the status of receivers Parker Hughes and Zach C. Hartley. Both players are trying to fight through injuries.

“They are both game-time decisions,” said Witten.

The Cyclones have relied on Rollins and running back Cade Maupin throughout the season.

Sullivan South (5-5) at East Hamilton (7-3)

It’s a familiar trip with a different opponent. After two years of playing Chattanooga Central in the first round, the Rebels get a fresh look for their journey down I-75.

South coach Justin Hilton said East Hamilton likes to put the ball in the air, averaging 40 points per game with most of the yardage coming via the pass.

“They are very athletic and love to throw,” said Hilton. “Their quarterback is very accurate. It’s a typical spread team. Their philosophy reminds me a lot of Stacy (Carter’s) offenses when he was here at South.”

East Hamilton is led by quarterback Haynes Eller, who is 6-foot-5 and weighs 195 pounds. Hilton said the Hurricanes boast four quality receivers.

South counters with running back Julian Reed and emerging quarterback Ethan Bergeron.

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