JCHS Longhorns come out on top in 7-on-7 passing league tourney
By Jonathan PleasantAs part of their ongoing summer training, the Varsity and JV football teams took part in a 7 on 7 passing league tournament this past weekend at Hampton. Taking on local teams including Cloudland, Sullivan East, South Green, and of course the Hampton Bulldogs, Johnson County was ultimately able to come out on top, blowing past the competition with an accurate arm from quarterback Warren Kerley and several young and talented receivers.
Rules from the tournament differed greatly from regular season games. Playing from the 40, two games were held simultaneously, and limited to 20 minutes. JV games were held on the practice field adjacent to the main football field, and while the varsity played by tournament rules, JV went round robin. Yet, the biggest difference was that this tournament was two-hand touch rather than full contact, a challenge for some of the more eager players.
“It was good practice for us,” said head coach Mike Atwood. “It’s always good to win anything at Hampton. It’s a tough place to play any sport and we’re pretty much natural rivals because of our geography. We were ready to tackle, and we had a couple boys that it was tough for, but it was all in fun.”
The varsity Longhorns ended up winning seven games over the two-day event, with the JV coming in just behind at four wins and a tie. Regardless, both teams played very well, a fact that coach Atwood attributed to a mixture of strong veteran players and talented incoming freshmen.
“We saw some of our younger kids who have never gotten to play varsity before and we saw a lot of things we liked,” Atwood said. “I though Warren Kerley played well and threw the ball well as quarterback. Greg Roark did well as receiver and defensive back. Kenny Brown did well on defense, and Brian Dempsey played well also. Alex Tressler was one of the guys who never played varsity before and he did very well. He played mostly defense, but he got in a little bit on some offensive plays, and he did some good things. His quickness helps us. This was really something for our skill people, so he really came in handy.”
It was largely the same situation for the Junior Varsity as well, who actually brought in a few incoming eighth graders that did surprisingly well. Nathan Arnold took up position as quarterback, landing some solid passes to receivers like Dakota Wright. On the defense Warren Kerley’s younger brother Will Kerley had several strong moments, making good stops alongside players like Payton Fenner.
Unlike the varsity, which had a defined tournament structure, the JV played whatever team was available at the time, pitting even the eighth grade players against some high school level opponents. Amazingly, even with these odds against them, the Longhorns still came out with some big wins. According to Coach Tom Kerley, “We tied Cloudland, but we’ve done really well. We had a little bit of trouble picking up the games, but they all did a really good job. We had four 8th graders with us and they have actually gone up against some juniors and didn’t do too bad. We’re really pleased.”
For the varsity this was the first time that the Longhorns have pulled off a win in one of these types of events. As coach Atwood pointed out, Johnson County typically relies on its ground game, but after their success at Hampton may be a little more optimistic about their other options as well.
“We beat Cloudland in the championship,” Atwood said. “We’ve never won a passing league tournament before. We don’t really throw the ball that much and we go these things to help our defensive guys more than anything. It also helps our receivers running routes, as well as the quarterback, but as far as winning these, we’ve never won one.”
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