Each game in the regular season counts for area football teams, but some just mean more than others.
Outside of the three Region 1-A games which will determine the postseason route, here is a look some of the key games for the Cloudland football team for this upcoming season.
Cloudland at Happy Valley (August 23)
For coaches, there is no bigger game than the next one and that is especially true for the ‘Landers program this season.
Cloudland will open the Glenn White era on the road in a non-conference clash with the Warriors. The schools had an epic battle last season — an 8-7 Cloudland victory that had just about anything a fan could have asked for.
The Happy Valley game will also help White come full circle, as his last game as a head coach occurred on Warrior Hill with the Unicoi County program.
Both teams will look to establish their identities and see what players step up as both are replacing key pieces on both sides of the ball.
Cloudland at Hampton (September 13)
Cloudland will come off the traditional Week 3 bye week with a short trip to Hampton. After finally solving the Bulldog puzzle the past two seasons, CHS will look to get some momentum heading into Region 1-A play.
The ‘Landers and Bulldogs will also square off in a second meeting on Oct. 11, so it will be crucial to set the tone in the first matchup. Cloudland is slated to travel to Hancock County the following week for the region opener, so it will also be important to keep the key players healthy in this rivalry clash.
South Greene at Cloudland (August 30)
The ‘Landers are set to open the home slate against a Rebels squad that had a surprising run in 2018. It will be an important non-conference clash heading into the bye week, as Cloudland will look to capitalize on the momentum or turn the momentum around, depending on the Week 1 result.
The Rebels are coming off an 8-5 season that came to an end in the 2A Quarterfinals against Meigs County.
Sullivan North at Cloudland (Nov. 1)
Cloudland will close out the regular season at Orr Field for just the second time in the past six seasons against a strong Sullivan North squad.
It is a non-conference matchup that will come after a trip to Johnson County. Against the Raiders, it will be crucial for Cloudland to remain healthy — or use the week as a chance to get healthy — entering the Class A playoffs. As the Unaka playoff suspension comes to an end, it is important to note that there will not be a bye for the top team from Region 2 this season.
Avery County at Cloudland (September 27)
A rivalry game sandwiched between two Region 1-A foes could test Cloudland’s mental focus as the season approaches the midpoint. The ‘Landers, who are the odds-on favorite to win the Region 1-A crown once again, will have to try to not overlook Hancock County the week before Avery, as well as not carry over the Avery result into its contest at Unaka.
The Avery County game also comes at a crucial juncture for the ‘Landers to help set the stage for an October run.