And next week’s state-title game will be played at Greeneville.
In reality, it’s a TSSAA second-round game between No. 2-ranked Anderson County and No. 3-ranked Elizabethton with kickoff set for 7 o’clock.
Both teams are trying to earn a shot at top-ranked Greeneville, which likely awaits the winner in the quarterfinals.
Anderson is 11-0 on the season and 23-1 over the last two years with its only loss to Greeneville. Elizabethton is 10-1 on the season and 19-4 over the last two years with two losses to Greeneville and one to Anderson County.
It was November 10 of last year when Elizabethton’s players stood on the field on a cold night at Anderson County after a convincing 38-21 second-round loss to the Mavericks.
And if the Cyclones don’t find a way to contain Anderson’s Mr. Football candidate Friday night, they will experience the bitter taste of déjà vu. Stanton Martin wrecked the Cyclones for 475 yards of total offense and four touchdowns last year, including 366 passing with three scores.
“You have to live and learn from your mistakes,” said Elizabethton head coach Shawn Witten. “We’ve spent 12 months putting a plan together, in case we got a redemption game. We want to make it a different outcome. This could be a stepping stone game, like 2016 when we finally beat (Christian Academy of Knoxville).
“We’ve got to be aggressive and accept the challenge. We have to play with an edge. We’ve got to be the tougher team.”
After helping his team beat Elizabethton, Martin suffered an ACL injury early in the game the next week against Greeneville, but finished the contest and nearly led his team to an upset in the 38-35 decision.
Recovered from the injury, Martin has thrown for 2,563 yards and 42 touchdowns this year and has completed 70 percent of his passes.
“I think he has lost a step or two, but his mindset hasn’t changed,” said Witten. “He’s a really tough young man. He’s still throwing the ball down the field, and he’s doing things to will his team to victory.”
Martin also excels in the classroom with a 4.4 GPA and a 29 on the ACT.
OTHER MAVS WEAPONS
Receiver Michael Carroll went over 1,000 yards last week and has 19 touchdowns on the season — which is one of the top 10 single-season marks in state history. On the ground, Marquis Gallaher and Ryan Moog lead the way. They have combined for over 1,500 yards rushing and 20-plus touchdowns. Moog is also a receiving threat.
“They want to pass more than they run it, but they are capable of running it,” said Witten. “They are good up front, and a solid all-around good team.”
GOOD NEWS FOR CYCLONES
Elizabethton has its own impressive stats, including a quarterback with sweet numbers. Carter Everett has thrown for 2,290 yards with 27 touchdown passes.
And Everett has plenty of receiving options with Corey Russell (872 yards), Evan Perkins (809) and Parker Hughes (565) combining for 28 scores. Russell also has 15 rushing scores, five touchdown passes, and 1,714 all-purpose yards.
Witten said his team will need to be prepared for an attacking defense.
“I think they try to play aggressive because they know they have a high-powered offense. They want a shootout, and want to get you out of your comfort zone.”