East welcomes Cherokee to town for homecoming
The Morristown East Hurricanes are on a roll and they hope to keep that up as they return to IMAC play Friday when they host the Cherokee Chiefs for homecoming at Burke-Toney Stadium.
East’s offense is putting up some very impressive numbers. They are averaging 35 points per game and are also playing great defense. Even in their only loss this season to fifth ranked Sevier County, the Hurricanes were in the game until the end.
Canes coach Dwayne Hatcher said he is pleased that his team has been able to post some big offensive numbers so far in 2013.
“We have had some success here in the past offensively but then last year, we struggled so we made a commitment to re-evaluate what we were doing and how we were doing it,” Hatcher said. “I feel like we have a pretty good package together right now that utilizes our players’ talents.
“The thing I learned a long time ago about football is that it is a game that is not about the X’s and O’s, it’s about the Johnny’s and Joe’s. It’s about the players. There is nothing we are doing scheme-wise that deserves the credit for the success we are having right now, but rather it all goes to the kids. I appreciate what they are doing and how hard they are working.”
The Canes (3-1, 0-1 IMAC) will need to keep things going as they play a team this week that can also put up big numbers. The Chiefs (2-2, 1-0 IMAC) have scored 90 points combined in their last two games. For an offense that has relied on the pass quite a bit the last several years, the Chiefs have gotten their running game going. Evan McCracken rushed for 115 yards last week and Teagan Trent had 162 in a win over Volunteer.
Hatcher said his team will be in for a fight Friday night.
“Cherokee is a hard-nosed football team that is playing with a lot of confidence right now. They beat West for the first time in (nine) years and won their county rivalry game, so they are coming in here on a roll,” Hatcher stated. “They are huge up front and have some talent like the Trent brothers and their quarterback is doing a good job. I could go down the list of how good they are. It will be a real test for us. We will have to be able to play our best this week.”
One of the reasons for the Canes’ offensive prowess is the fact they can diversify between the running and passing game. Senior quarterback Logan Wallace leads the air attack and senior running back Matt Thompson totes the load in the running game.
“Logan hasn’t been 100-percent since the first quarter of the William Blount game but he is getting better and is close to being all the way back,” Hatcher said of Wallace’s injury to his finger. “There are a lot of factors that go into throwing the ball effectively and we have made a lot of progress, but we are still not where I think we can be throwing the ball.”
Thompson abused Bearden last week to the tune of 230 yards and three scores, and Hatcher said he is happy with how his senior back is making himself a threat to opposing teams.
“Matt has had a real good year and has been a key part of our team for four years,” Hatcher said. “We are trying to be balanced, and it helps our running game if we can make plays in the passing game and vice versa. We need to seek balance. To be a good team, you have to run the ball against good competition and be able to stop the run against good competition.
“Against a good Bearden team last week, Matt stepped up big time for us and made some plays, and it’s a credit to how hard he has worked and how bad he has wanted his senior year to be a success.”
In a game where both offensives are potent, Friday’s game could come down to whoever makes the most defensive stops at key times in the game. Hatcher said that while his offense is doing well, his defense is one of the biggest reasons for the team’s 3-1 record.
“Our defense is playing as well as they have in probably five years,” Hatcher said. “My first three years here, we played pretty good defense and in 2007, that was probably the best we played defensively. This bunch is right there and playing very well, and we will need to continue to.
“They are working hard and are buying into what we are trying to do, and they have been a big part of what we have been able to accomplish in this short period of time.”
Kickoff Friday is set for 7:30 p.m.
- By Marlin Curnutt, Tribune Correspondent