BY IVAN SANDERS, Elizabethton Star
Much like closing the pages on a perfect novel, the T.A. Dugger Jr. Cyclones final game of the 2018 campaign ended with a spotless 8-0 season mark and being crowned as the Big 8 Conference champs after laying a whipping to the Vance Middle School Vikings by a 44-12 margin at Citizens Bank Stadium on Thursday evening.
Over before it even began
The Vikings ship was sunk before they even had time to pull from the dock as the Jr. Cyclones came out fully focused and ready to make it clear they would settle for nothing less than perfection.
TAD signal caller Dalton Mitchell had over 100 passing yards in the first quarter alone including two scoring passes—a 68-yard bomb to Nate Stephens and Peyton Johnson’s 21-yard scoring reception to set the tone with a 12-0 lead after one-quarter of play.
Leaving his mark
Mitchell wasn’t finished either as the quarterback closed out his eighth-grade season in style with his handprint on three more Jr. Cyclone scores in the second quarter to stake his team to a 36-0 lead at the intermission.
He would scamper in for a 7-yard score followed by a little razzle-dazzle as Mitchell gave the ball to Stephens and then hustled out in open field and hauled in a 35-yard pass from Johnson for a score.
Mitchell then went in defensive mode as he had a 70-yard pick six that extended the advantage after the Jr. Cyclones converting all three of their 2-point conversions in the quarter.
Picking up where he left off
Stephens picked right up from where he left off in the Science Hill game last week as the speedster added his second score of the contest in the third quarter when the running back kicked in the after burners on a 63-yard rushing touchdown.
The 2-point conversion accounted for the 44 total points scored by the Jr. Cyclones.
Late scores prevent shutout
Vance managed to score a couple late touchdowns in the waning minutes of the game to prevent a total shutout.
Madison Fritts rambled 53 yards for one score and a Jr. Cyclone fumble allowed the Vikings to return the recovery for a 35-yard defensive score.
One proud head coach
“Its who they are, its what they have been, and its what they are going to be,” said head coach Travis Smithdeal. “It’s a great group of kids.
“We have a fantastic group of coaches and man we just put the work in, put the time in, and do things right and good things happen. The future of Cyclone football is bright.
“I am more so excited to see what these kids are going to do in the future, and Coach Shawn Witten is on the field with us tonight, and he knows what’s coming.
“This is just a special group of young men, and I am so proud.”