Excitement building for Carter Co. football playoff matchups

High School Sports

CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A trio of Carter County high schools won’t play their respective TSSAA football semifinal games until Friday. But, the excitement in the communities and at the schools is already building.

“Each school has been here at one point in time in the past, but not all three at one time,” Hampton High School principal Jeff Bradley said. “So, for three schools in one small county to be able to make it to this point – it’s pretty unique.”

Elizabethton, Hampton and Cloudland will all host playoff matchups Friday night. One more win and each school has a shot to play for a state championship.

“The county, the community has just rallied around these boys, and we’re so excited for their hard work,” Cloudland High School principal Dr. Les Simerly said. “They’re just the heart of our community.”

“It’s what everybody wants to talk about – it’s something that’s really special,” Elizabethton High School principal Dr. Jon Minton said.

It’s not only special; it’s historic.

State legislators from the 3rd and 4th District, including Rusty Crowe, Jon Lundberg, Scotty Campbell and John Holsclaw, all signed a proclamation on Tuesday. The document touts “perhaps the most successful football season in Carter County history” and honors the efforts of all three teams.

“We’re making history here throughout Carter County, and it’s so exciting to have that here at our school and to give our kids the opportunity to see this and live through this historic moment,” Simerly said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused plenty of turbulence in the realm of high school athletics and beyond in the last 18 months. But because of that, the Cyclone, Bulldog and Highlander communities are truly cherishing every chance they get to cheer on their team this season.

“I think people just realize what we didn’t have last year and they’re just happy to be coming out and be able to pack the stands,” Minton said.

Not only will all three Carter County schools be playing on Friday night, but they will play at home – in front of their passionate fans.

“I mean it’s like having a 12th man or more in our stadium,” Minton said. “It’s just a win for everybody, and I know it’s going to be a great night on Friday.”

“It’s just been a lot of electricity in the air on Friday nights here and should be even more come this Friday,” Bradley said.

The matchups for Friday night are listed below:

Upperman vs. Elizabethton, 7 p.m.

Trousdale County vs. Hampton, 7 p.m.

South Pittsburg vs. Cloudland, 7 p.m.

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