Shepherd and Dishman duo ready to anchor Longhorn O-line

By Tim Chambers

Area coaches agree that Johnson County could have one of the best offenses in Northeast, Tennessee with the return of its top four players from last year. Nathan Arnold, Gage Hampton, Bud Icenhour and Shane Greer provided Longhorn fans with plenty of big plays in 2016 but the team came up short in their bid for a playoff berth.
The Longhorns are hoping that two “big” linemen can pave the way for a “big” season in 2017. And both have the experience to do so.

Seniors Nate Shepherd and Tristan Dishman will help provide the blocking for the four “Stud Steers” listed above. And each of them feels like they’re up for the challenge.
Shepherd returns at center while Dishman will start at one of the tackle slots.  Each of them knows that the offensive line’s play will be a huge factor in their bid for a playoff run.
“We are working hard to get all the plays down and know our assignments because our backs and receivers can do the job,” said Shepherd. “They’ve been playing since they were sophomores so it’s our job to get it done up front. It’s on our shoulders to open up the holes for our backs and give Nathan the protection he needs. We’re going to win a lot of games if we are able to do that.”
Dishman agreed with Shepherd especially about the running game. He said it’s all about having a good mix on offense.
“We have to get the running game established early,” said Dishman. “We feel like we can throw on any team if we give Nathan the time but breaking off some big plays on the ground would be huge. Our offense is talented with a lot of speed and size. We have six or seven guys who are capable of making big plays. I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Shepherd recalled the loss to Unicoi County last year that cost them making the playoffs. He feels good about the team’s chances now that Elizabethton has moved up to 4-A.
“We’ve got high expectations because we’ve got so many returning seniors,” added Shepherd. “It left a sick feeling inside when we didn’t go last year. The players, coaches and fans will be disappointed if we win only three or four games. Our goal is to win the conference and win a home playoff game.”
The line will consist of three new starters along with Dishman and Shepherd. They like the way the trio is coming along.
“It’s so important that we show some leadership on this team,” added Dishman. “We aim to be good examples for our younger guys because they might have to step up and play too.  Our line might be lacking game experience in some places but we’re ready. We’ve all got something to prove.”

Dishman went on to say that the “beefy boys” have formed a close bond both on and off the field.
“We hang out and do things together,” added Dishman.  “We all talk about what to do on this or that assignment. I feel like all of them are picking it up well. It all starts up front and we’ve got to be ready to play.”
Shepherd got excited when asked about the team’s outlook.
“We’ve got some studs on this team so we won’t be overlooking anyone this year,” said Shepherd.  “We’ve got a great quarterback who can throw and three or four very good receivers. We’re working hard on the running game because we’ve been challenged by our coaches to step up that part. We don’t want to be second, third or fourth in the league. We want to leave here with a conference championship and host a home playoff game. We won’t be satisfied with anything else.”

Johnson County Longhorn football loves ‘Little Big Horne’

Gary Horne

By Tim Chambers

He’s not General Custer or Crazy Horse but Johnson County is glad to have their version of “Little Big Horne” on their side. Paul McEwen Stadium has been his battlefield for 25 years, so it would be easy to for him to toot his “Horn” but he won’t do so.
Gary Horne goes quietly about his duties as an assistant coach and equipment manager for the high school team and receives no compensation for what he does. His love for the kids and Johnson County’s football program has kept his batteries charged for two-and-one-half decades and his value can’t be measured.
“I just help Coach Don,” he chuckled about describing his duties. “I take care of all the equipment and wash the uniforms. I usually spend most of practice fixing helmets and overseeing some drills. I no longer do the X’s and O’s. I stay busy with all the other stuff.”
Horne spent several years as an assistant coach at the middle school before moving over to the high school program.
“I just go wherever they need me and I do whatever I am asked to do,” added Horne. “I love the kids and I love Johnson County football. I always wanted to play the game.”
Horne tried to play all the sports as a freshman but a medical condition forced him to give it up due to doctor’s orders.
“I had some severe migraine headaches that kept me from playing,” said Horne. “The doctors advised me to give it up because medicine wasn’t as advanced as it is now. I would have given anything to play. Today’s kids don’t know what they are missing out on when they have the talent and pass up a chance to play. Some say it’s not the end of the world when a kid has to sit and watch. It almost killed me because I missed out on doing something that I loved.”
Horne embraces the duties that he has been given by head coach Don Kerley. He loves being on a staff where each one pulls his own weight.
“All these men are more than just coaches. We all have other duties. They do everything from working on the field to cleaning up the field house and locker room. They always stay until everyone is picked up.”
Horne detailed his average workweek and the time he puts in as a coach.
“I am here usually two to three hours each day during the week and sometime 10-15 hours on Friday if we have a road game. I try and finish up if we play at home because all the other coaches are here. I usually come in and finish up on Saturday if we have a road game. But it’s something that I’ve always enjoyed doing.”
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk on sale now.

Fun times for Kim Kleine and friends on the softball field

Kim Kleine and her daughter Kendyl

By Tim Chambers

Kim Kleine is known as a go-getter and a pretty good one at that. Thanks to her efforts, adult softball is starting to take shape in Johnson County at Ralph Stout Park every Saturday.
Kleine has put her heart and soul into becoming a nurse but getting softball started back up for adults has been a good gig. Her Facebook post got the ball rolling.

“Everyone kept talking about how they wanted to play like back in the day, but Johnson County had no adult softball league,” said Kleine. “I posted on Facebook to try and get some interest going and the comments kept flowing back. We decided to have a meeting on a Monday and see how many people would show. We only had 10 people when I got there but then several others pulled in. That is how all of this came about. I was a little worried at first.”
The always-smiling Kleine doesn’t shy away from hard work. She once hung sheetrock as her profession but now has earned the reputation as a great finisher.

“I knew we had to get that spark going and create some interest,” said Kleine. “Once we did that people got excited. We played that first week and people brought some of their friends back the second week. It just keeps getting better each time out.”
Saturday’s attendance was a testament to Kleine’s hard work.
“We had nearly 40 players show up so we made four teams. That number was fitting for it being our fourth week. We used both fields and the winners played a second game and the losers played. It was great fun. We don’t put a lot of emphasis on winning but you do see the competitive side come out in some of our participants.”
Kleine is no stranger to Johnson County sports. She’s been a youth coach for several years but cut back to finish her nursing degree.
He daughter, Hazlee, plays basketball and volleyball for JCHS. Younger daughter Kendyl was a standout player in Little League softball. Her husband also plays in the league.
“Sports have always been a big part of my life,” added Kleine. “The ball field was always a special time and place for my family when I played during my younger years.”
Kleine said the ages vary that come. They start around 20 with the oldest player being 70.

“There is no age limit or anything like that,” said Kleine. “We don’t have anyone in charge. Somebody will volunteer to be a captain and then we’ll select teams. We usually pick male and then female until teams have been filled. It’s almost like playing the way we used to do in our back yards. Everyone is having fun and nobody is complaining.”
Kleine laughed when telling about the cops coming to break up play.

“We lost track of the time and didn’t turn the lights off by 10 pm last week. We invited Officer Chris Brown to play, but he didn’t have his glove and bat. He was just doing his job. We all got overly excited.”
Kleine would love to see more people come and participate.

“We have the core group that keeps coming back, but we would love to see more numbers. Nobody gets on one another and everybody is always encouraging. It’s a great thing to be a part of.”
Kleine is hoping to see a record number on Saturday.
“You’re never too old to play and you’re only as old as you feel. Life is too short not to participate. Come out, get dirty and sweaty.”

Count your many blessings just like Gary Woodard always did

Coach Gary Woodard gives a hug to catcher Donnie Curd.

By Tim Chambers

This summer had been a special season for Gary Woodard. His Marlins Little League team did the unthinkable by finishing undefeated with a 15-0 record.
They won the league championship in addition to the season ending tournament. Gary was selected to coach the 11-12-year-old All-Star team with many of his players on the roster.
I remember the smile on his face as he walked off the field after defeating the Dodgers in their final game. Then I recalled the words that he said to me.
“I am blessed Tim,” he would tell me. “I’m going to remember this for a long time.”
Little did Gary know that his time remaining on earth would be short. Yet he lived each second to the fullest.
He was all smiles after giving the powerhouse Johnson City American All-Stars fits for five innings with Zack Parsons on the mound. He was gracious despite taking the loss after Parsons ran out of pitches.
Still he was blessed and all smiles after the game.
It’s hard to describe the impact that Coach Gary had on the lives of kids in Johnson County. The world’s biggest tape measure couldn’t size it up.
He was a role model to all those who played for him. He was a godly and good family man to his wife, Lisa, and children, Gary Jr., Adrian and Anthony.
To others like me he was the dearest friend. I’ll always cherish this summer when our friendship reached another level.
Gary’s gifts to his community were great. There were many that people never knew about.
He spent countless hours wiring the new field house for Johnson County High School at no charge. Many of his former and current players would be using the facility.
It was his way of giving back something to all the kids he loved.
Gary’s love went far beyond athletics.
He always stressed the value of family.
He and wife Lisa had a wonderful marriage. He was the ideal role model for his children, brothers and sisters.
But again the world’s largest tape measure couldn’t size up what he meant to people.
That was evident by the long line that wrapped around the funeral home and outside the door to the parking lot on Sunday. Chairs had to be brought in to seat people and some had to stand on the outside.
I didn’t hear anybody complain. Gary Woodard had taught them well. We were blessed just to be there.
The two weeks after his banner season would go by fast. It was too fast for those of us who remain. Yet Gary made the most of it.
He had volunteered to help build a small kitchen at the church where I pastor in Elizabethton. I felt led to serve breakfast during the week to the needy in our community. Gary was all about helping others even if it was 30 miles away. He said my story touched him.
But God had different plans.
No story of mine would ever touch the lives that Gary Woodard touched. Johnson County lost a fine man. Paradise gained another angel.
We also had dinner plans for Friday with our families but that got put on hold too. Little did I know that Gary’s invitation would be to God’s Great Banquet. I couldn’t think of anyone more worthy.
How fitting it would be to name something in Gary’s honor. The Little League Field at Cunningham Park is a suggestion.
Each of us would be blessed every time we walked in just like Gary Woodard was.
“Count your many blessings” for those of us who knew him.

 

A ‘Dunn’ Deal … Chris Dunn bringing player experience to coaching

 

By Tim Chambers

Chris Dunn was known as a bulldozer on the football field and pretty much a brute on the basketball court during his playing days at Johnson County. He was All-Conference two years in both sports and was named to the Elite 11 football team as a senior in 2000 in addition to gathering honorable mention All-State honors.
Seventeen years later he’s back on the gridiron as an assistant football coach at the high school. It’s something that the former standout player has always wanted to do.
Dunn‘s toughness as a player was second to none. He made it a trademark to run over people on the football field, but was quick enough on the basketball court to score 20 plus points in several games. His players should improve immensely if they can duplicate his toughness on the field.

“I see a different side of the game now that I’m a coach as to being a player,” said Dunn. “I’m still competitive and I still have a feel for the game, but now I’m trying to instill that in our players. I want to get that and my knowledge about the game over to the kids and show them the things that helped me as a player. Hopefully we can have success and bring back excitement to Johnson County football. I am excited to be working with these kids.”
Dunn works as a Tennessee State Trooper when not on the football field. He won’t mind seeing some “speeders” in his backfield.
“I would love to see us bring back the smash-mouth style of football but we’ve got several options,” added Dunn. “We’ve got good speed in our backfield and our receivers are fast with good hands. It helps to have a senior quarterback who should be one of the best players in the area.”
Dunn also knows the value of good line play. He thinks the weight room has improved that area.
“Everything goes hand-in-hand and compliments one another,” added Dunn.  “We need the speed, good quarterbacking and a running game, but it all starts with the line. Those guys are working hard and getting better each time out. Our players have lived in the weight room during the offseason. Our kids are much stronger this year. I believe we can win a lot of battles up front.”
Dunn feels like the addition of the new weight room has been the biggest asset for this year’s squad.
“It’s helped a great deal because we’ve got 35-45 kids working out all the time,” added Dunn. “All that hard work will show out on the field.”
Dunn likes the backfield that he’s inherited. It’s one with some speed in addition to valuable game experience.
“Troy Arnold has moved to fullback and he’s big, strong and hard to tackle. Gage Hampton is a good back that runs strong and can catch the football. Caden Arnold has the speed to score when he gets on the outside. Bud Icenhour and Nathan are two really good athletes. They, Shane Greer and Zack Eller should take a lot of pressure off our backs because they are so good at throwing and catching the football.”
Dunn feels like the team has a lot of good senior players. He is hoping they step up and take on the leadership roles.
“We need them to do that to help out all our younger players,” said Dunn. “We’ve got a good mix of players this year. We want to outwork people and have a good chemistry on this team. It all starts with leadership.”
Dunn said he’s excited and grateful about the opportunity at hand.
“I want to give the players and coaches all the time that I can between me and my work schedule. I appreciate Coach Don Kerley and the staff for giving me this opportunity to help these kids and my community. I want to make the most of it.”

 

A&E (Arnold and Eller) will be fun to watch

Zack Eller and Troy Arnold make up the A&E combination

By Tim Chambers

The A&E network is a fun channel to watch because of its biographies and documentaries. Longhorn fans will love watching Johnson County’s A&E network starring Troy Arnold and Zack Eller on the gridiron.
Each is hoping to write their biography in 2017 on both sides of the football. The A&E’s ability to play different positions should be a plus in earning them some valuable playing time.

“I’m hoping to start at cornerback and on special teams,” said Eller. “They’ve had me at wide receiver during the passing league games and l like it there. I’ve been a role player up until this year so any time earned would be a plus. I want to be out on the field and help our team win games. That’s probably everyone’s goal.”

The same can be said for Arnold who moves from the backup quarterback slot to starting at fullback. He could get a boatload of playing time as well.
“I loved it when they moved me to fullback,” said Arnold. “I like the move because there are so many options. I love to hit, block and catch the football and playing quarterback has helped me understand what the fullback’s duties are. I think it’s a much better fit for me.”
So does the entire coaching staff.
Arnold caught a touchdown pass against Happy Valley in the passing league on Friday. He embraces the thought of logging a lot of minutes in his junior campaign.
“I played some as a sophomore but now I want to be a leader to our younger guys,” said Arnold. “I’ll give it my all wherever they put me. I want to help us win the conference and do whatever the coaches ask of me. We’ve got a lot of good senior football players this year. We juniors want to make it a special season for them.”
The Arnold and Eller combination should be a big hit. Arnold delivered some punishing blows late in the 2015 campaign on defense. Eller averaged nearly 30 yards on kickoff returns.

“There is nothing like delivering a good hit during the game,” said Arnold. “I pride myself on that. You get those opportunities at fullback and linebacker. I want to hit people hard but I want them to be clean, I want them to be the type of hits that create big plays.”
Eller hopes to hit them with his speed.
“I love special teams because you get an opportunity to do something big as a returner,” added Eller. “It’s great when you see a gap open up because it’s an opportunity to score quickly. You also get that chance as a receiver with Nathan Arnold at quarterback. You know his passes are going to be on the money. All we have to do is get open.”
Both agreed the expectations are high for 2017.

“Our goal is to go 10-0 and win some games in the playoffs,” said Eller. Arnold added. “We definitely want to win the conference and make the playoffs. I believe we’ve got a chance to do that. But we’ll have to play well in every game.”
The A&E channel is something that Longhorn fans will want to see in 2017. The “History” channel could be their next stop if the team reaches Eller’s goal.

 

Yama Dojo brings medals home from AAU Karate nationals

Yama Dojo poses with their medals earned at the national competition

June 28-July 1, 2017 – Kurokawa Karate, known locally as “Yama Dojo”, recently participated in the 2017 AAU Karate National Championships. This event was held at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC. Close to 2000 athletes and coaches were in attendance to show their skills in kata (forms), kobudo (weapons) and kumite (sparring).

AAU, Amateur Athletic Union of the United States, has held tournaments for various sports ending in National Competitions since 1988. In 2015, some of our local karate students went to witness the AAU National Championship in Raleigh. Nationals alternate yearly between Raleigh and Fort Lauderdale, FLA. www.aaukarate.org.

Upon arrival, registration was acquired. AAU had a special project for those teams showing up early. They set a goal to fill 1000 bags with toiletries and encouragement for the area’s homeless. Yama Dojo was empowered by the support and generosity of our community through the whole tournament season. With grateful hearts, we wrote out cards, packed bags and prayed that others would feel loved. It was an honor to do our part.

The Opening Ceremony began as the sun rose the next morning with a beautiful Taiko-drum performance. All the teams filed in with their banners and team colors, filling the twelve mats in the arena. The Karate Masters, who made karate in the United States possible, sat with honor in front. Guest speakers such as NC Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Raleigh’s Chamber of Commerce President addressed the competitors and supporters. Fumio Demura, world renowned as the “Real Mr. Miyagi” and karate advisor/stunt man in the original “Karate Kid” movies, was also in attendance. (Our students got to meet him and received his autograph.)
Our very own Grandmaster Souke Tim Brooks and his wife, Lady Teruko Kurokawa Brooks, were among those at the Master’s Table. They had three dojos competing in the Nationals; ours and two from Fort Myers, FLA. They were pivotal in how karate grew in America. Souke Brooks learned karate as a teenager in Japan where his family were missionaries. He came to America with his wife and children as a young man to teach karate. They continue to touch lives fifty years later.
The Tournament went on for three days. Yama Dojo competed each day. George Kotaka, four-time world champion in karate, brought twenty competitors from Hawaii. Competition was stiff; but we held our own across the board. For example, in a fierce division of 18 competitors, William Butler beat out some in kata. When it was all over, Kurokawa Karate Yama Dojo brought home one silver and three bronze.

Trisha Hook received a bronze in kobudo-short weapon with her kama (short handled sickle).
Ashley Cole brought home our silver in kobudo with the bo (staff).
Rory Springer held a bronze in kobudo with his bo and another in kumite (sparring).
It was a very rewarding tournament season. We would like to thank all of our family, friends and Johnson County for the support, donations and encouragement we have received. We are grateful to Bethany Baptist for a place to train and Red Tail for continuing to provide a beautiful setting for our Black Belt banquets. Mountain City made a mark in the national karate world. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Kurokawa Karate holds its classes at Bethany Baptist church in Doe, Mondays and Thursdays. Beginners’ Class is at 5:30 pm. Advanced at 6:30 pm. Classes are free. You may call Sensei Rebekah “Hotaru” Darocha: 423-440-2972 or Sensei Chris “Monjin” Hook: 423-291-1747 for more details.

Johnson County Football Touchdown Club membership drive

The Johnson County Football Touchdown Club is always looking for new members. It is a great way to support the football team in 2017.
You can become a member for a small $50 fee. The fee will include a season pass to all home games. You can check out the Touchdown Club on Facebook.
The club pays for meals for players in addition to providing many other things. It’s a great way to support your Longhorns.
You can also purchase a 4”x8” brick for a $25 dollar fee. Your purchase will pave the way for a Longhorn.
See any player or Touchdown Club member to help this cause or contact a member of the coaching staff.

Longhorns shine in passing league play at Hampton on Friday

Nathan Arnold gets ready to throw his second TD pass

By Tim Chambers

It wasn’t your typical pad-popping smash-mouth football, but fans got a taste of it on Friday at Hampton High School in the 7-on-7 passing league games.
Cloudland, Unaka, North Greene, Chuckey-Doak and Silverdale were all on hand but none of those faced the Horns. Coach Don Kerley’s squad went up against highly regarded Happy Valley and Hampton in the two games they took part in.

They topped that off with a trip to Liberty University on Saturday where they compiled a 3-3 mark.
The Longhorns unleashed a strong air attack led by the pin-point passing of quarterback Nathan Arnold at Hampton. The senior signal caller showed a lot of zip on his passes misfiring only five times in two games.
He hooked up with Shane Greer on a 13-yard touchdown pass against Happy Valley to open the game and was on target with a 30-yard scoring strike to Bud Icenhour on their second possession.
Happy Valley got a pair of TD passes from quarterback Brayden Sams to Kai Norman but the Horns did one better.
Arnold connected with fullback Troy Arnold on a 7-yard TD pass for the final score as both teams played well during the 20-minute span.
Arnold kept the hot hand versus Hampton by throwing a pair of touchdown passes to Gage Hampton and another one to Icenhour.
The Bulldogs got a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Jason Russell to Jonah Jones and one to standout tailback Hunter Davenport. Jones hauled in the game winner on the final play.
Saturday’s trip to Lynchburg, Virginia was a success according to head coach Don Kerley.
“We had a lot of kids that played well there,” said Kerley. “We ran them hard trying to get everyone in shape. The basketball boys handled it well and appeared to be in better shape. We’ve got some good kids who are experienced, but we’ve also got several things to work on with our younger bunch.”
One player that stepped up was junior Zach Eller who made several outstanding catches on the day.
Bud Icenhour and Shane Greer showed they are going to be a force to reckon with as receivers as is Gage Hampton out of the backfield.
“Nathan threw the ball well and we need that from him,” added Kerley. “We go in shoulder pads all next week and then in full pads on Monday. We’ll know a lot more about all of them in the next few weeks.”
The defense led by Hayden Osborne and Jordan Edes had some outstanding moments but they also got burnt deep a few times against the Bulldogs.
The Horns wrapped up passing league play at Elizabethton High School on Tuesday. A recap about the events can be found in next Wednesday’s Tomahawk.

 

Tim’s Tomahawk Talk – High school pitching rules to change

By Tim Chambers

When will the TSSAA ever stop with all the rule changes? They now have tinkered with the high school pitch count for varsity baseball teams making unnecessary changes that weren’t needed.
The pitching rules for high school baseball will once again change in 2018.  Every pitch will count without reverting back to a previous pitch count. Here is an example.
Under the new rule a pitcher could come back and pitch on one day’s rest if he throws no more than 55 pitches. Under the previous rule, a pitcher could be at 54 pitches when a new batter steps to the plate. The current pitcher could extend that pitch count to whatever number he needed to retire the batter before being relieved. The pitch count would then revert back to 54 even if it took 10 pitches to retire the batter with his pitch count standing at 64.
That’s not an option now when 2018 arrives.
Under the new rule the pitcher could throw only one pitch to the batter before reaching the 55 pitch count. He then would have to leave the mound if he wanted to pitch again on one-day’s rest.
Whatever number of pitches a pitcher throws in 2018 will be exact. They will be no reverting back to any number.
Below is a chart that the TSSAA has provided me.
Note the changes in the number of days rest needed after throwing the maximum amount of pitches during a game.

0-25 pitches: 0 Days Rest
26-55 pitches: 1 Day Rest
56-75 pitches: 2 Days Rest
76-105 pitches: 3 Days Rest
106-120 pitches: 4 Days Rest
Don’t be surprised if the TSSAA doesn’t try and bring wooden bats back into the game. It makes no sense like the current rule change.

Classification confusing for Johnson County
To say when and where that Johnson County plays in each sport during the 2017-18 seasons is beyond difficult. Don’t even ask when it comes to track and field.
Many of you have requested this. I hope this helps.
Tennis: Johnson County, Chuckey-Doak, Hampton, Happy Valley, Sullivan North, Unaka and University High.
Basketball, Softball and Baseball: District 1-AA, Johnson County, Elizabethton, Happy Valley, Sullivan Central, Sullivan East, Sullivan South and Unicoi County.
Cross Country: Johnson County, Happy Valley, C-Doak, Claiborne, Cosby, Cumberland Gap, Hampton, Hancock County, North Greene, South Greene, Sullivan North, Unaka, University High, Washburn and North Greene.
Golf: Johnson County, Chuckey-Doak, Hampton, Happy Valley, Sullivan North, Unaka and University High.
Volleyball: Johnson County, Elizabethton, Chuckey-Doak, Sullivan Central, Sullivan East, Sullivan South and Unicoi County.
Football: Johnson County, Unicoi County, West Greene, Chuckey-Doak, North Greene and Claiborne County

Coach Harold Arnold
Longhorn fans are deeply saddened about the death of Johnson County icon Harold “Goose” Arnold. The Tomahawk staff would like to offer our condolences to the family.

Tim Chambers is the sports editor at the Tomahawk. Contact Tim by email tomahawsportseditor@gmail.com or feel free to call him at 423-408-9768.

Zack Parsons dominates but Johnson County loses 12-2

Johnson County 11-12 All Star team. Front row, L-R: Isaiah Curd, Dominic Kelly, Connor Stout, Tanner Putnam, Dakota Holt and Peyton Pavusek. Back row, L-R: Assistant Coach Adam Sauer, Jordan James, Chase Muncie, Zack Parsons, Hank Sauer, Dalton Adams, Daniel Stout and Manager Gary Woodard. Not Pictured: Assistant Coach Jody Putnam

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County’s Little League All-Stars led by Zack Parsons dominated the highly regarded Johnson City American team for four plus innings on Monday night at Daniel Boone. Once he departed the mound, the roof caved in.
Johnson County led 2-1 when Parsons exceeded his 85-total pitch count with one out in the fifth inning. The Americans scored 11 runs in the same frame after his departure and won 12-2 in District play.
Parsons allowed only one hit, a bunt single by Jackson White in the second inning that led to a run. He struck out 11 batters, walked five and hit a batter in 4 1/3 innings.
“Zack pitched a wonderful game,” said Johnson County’s manager Gary Woodard. “They knew we were in the thing and that we came to win. He threw a lot of pitches in the second that kept him from finishing. He and the entire team played their hearts out. I’m very proud of them for that.”
Parsons had to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning after White led off with a bunt single and scored. He struck out leadoff and second batter in the order to escape further damage.
He also swung a mean stick to help his cause. He doubled in the first inning, scoring Isaiah Curd who had walked for a 1-0 lead.
His RBI double in the third brought home Dakota Holt, allowing them to surge back in front 2-1.
Johnson County wasted a golden opportunity to gain another run in the second. Peyton Pavusek led off with a towering triple off the right centerfield fence but was left stranded on third.
Tanner Putnam’s infield single was the only other hit for Johnson County.
White started on the mound for Johnson City and pitched two strong innings. He was 3-3 at the plate including a home run and a double in the 11-run fifth.
Parsons was 2-3 with two RBI’s for Johnson County.
“We could have saved him and maybe won on Tuesday but the kids wanted to beat the best team in it,” added Woodard. ‘We had them on the ropes, but we just couldn’t get them out after he left. They hit the ball well off our relievers. Everyone did their best and I’m pleased with that.”
Johnson County was set to play Johnson City Majors in a losers bracket game on Tuesday.

Johnson County All-Stars drop a pair in Little League play

Johnson Co. 9-10 & 11 All Stars. Front row, L-R: Isaac Lewis, Carson Jennings, Kaden Blevins, Nathan Keene, Carter Rudy and Derek Baird Row 2nd Row, L-R: Graham Reece, Chris Reece, Ethan Reece, George Grill and Ezra Howard. Row 3: Manager Brad Reece, Conner Simcox, and Assistant Coaches George Grill and Dirk Simcox. Not pictured: Tanner Marshall

By Tim Chambers

Little League baseball is all about changes and Johnson County found that out in the 9-to-11-year-old All-Star tournament played at Daniel Boone over the weekend.
Johnson County was scheduled to play Johnson City Majors on Friday at 8:30, a game they felt pretty good about. But that would change upon their arrival.
The opponent was now the superior Johnson City American Little League All-Stars after the Majors dropped out of the tournament.  And nobody from Johnson County was notified.
Change can be good sometimes but not in the case for our local team.
The All-Stars have consisted of the following age groups in past years; (7-8), (9-10), (11) and (11-12). Johnson County had to pull heavily from its 9-10 squad to field a team in the now (9-11) squad.
This created the bulk of the squad competing against an older age group from Johnson City.
The Johnson City Little League is made up of three Little Leagues, American, National and Majors. They all take part in inner league play during the regular season with the American League playing a 24-game schedule.
The majority of kids from all leagues play travel ball on the weekend. That allows players from those leagues to participate in more than 50 games by the time All-Stars roll around.
Now let’s rewind.
Johnson County managed to play about 15 games including a season-ending tournament. The league consisted of only five teams in the major division and very few of our kids play travel ball.
This reporter applauds the kids from Johnson County and the coaches for their dedication to the sport. You have to play against a high level of completion in order to get better.
The teams from Johnson City and Bristol do that.
The Longhorns were defeated by Johnson City Americans on Friday and Bristol on Saturday.
Ethan Reece had the only hit, a towering double against the Americans. The locals managed only three hits on Saturday. George Grill had a pair of hits while Graham Reece collected the other one.
Ace pitcher Conner Icenhour injured the finger on his throwing hand prior to the tournament and was far from 100 percent. The duo of Chris Reece and Ethan Reece threw well despite the lopsided losses.
“We cut our strikeouts down from nine on the first night to five on Saturday,” said manager Brad Reece. “It was all about trying to get better because we knew that both teams were strong.”
Johnson County got a couple of spectacular catches in the outfield. Carter Rhudy had a web gem on Friday in centerfield and Carson Jennings provided one in right field on Saturday. Ezra Howard was a vacuum at third base against Bristol.
“Johnson City’s entire team was eleven but our kids played hard the entire tournament,” said Reece. “Our kids never quit. They were just a more seasoned team than we were. We couldn’t have gotten in a tougher bracket but all these kids were a joy to coach.”

JCHS passing league play

By Tim Chambers

The wait for high school football practice to start is finally over to some degree. Dead period for high school athletics officially ended on Monday at 12 am with teams gathering to prepare for some 7-on-7 passing league play.
Coaches have been unable to observe or have contact with players since dead period began two weeks ago. Players were unable to use any of the school’s facilities.
Players took time to fish, swim and go on vacation over the two-week furlough, but now it’s back to business.
Johnson County head coach Don Kerley was looking forward to getting back to work. His kids were set to return on Monday at 5:00 pm.
“We’ll get back to lifting weights,” said Kerley. “We’ll let them run routes at full speed to try and get them in shape. We’ll do what we can to get ready for the weekend.”
The Longhorns will participate in the passing league on Friday at Hampton playing games at 5:30 and 6:30 in the evening. They’ll travel to Liberty University on Saturday to participate in one up there.
“We can practice in helmets, shorts and shoulder pads starting July 17 and then go full pads on July 24. We’ve got a lot of work to do but the kids are excited about the upcoming season.”
Kerley gave the perfect answer when asked if the players were excited about not having Elizabethton and Sullivan South in the conference.
“I think everyone is happy including all the coaches,” said Kerley. “I think them moving up is going to be good for all the remaining teams.”

NOTES
Senior quarterback Nathan Arnold is listed as a 2-Star quarterback recruit by 247 sports out of Knoxville. Arnold is being looked at by some area D-2 schools.
Shane Greer ran a 4.5, 40-yard dash recently and Caden Arnold has duplicated that feat. Hayden Osborne should be one of the league’s top defensive players. Senior Bud Icenhour will be one of the league’s best all purpose players.
The Longhorns will likely be tabbed as one of the favorites to win the conference due to returning several key players from last season.

Softball camp for Little League to start on Monday

Current JCHS players and former players will take part in the softball camp including “Hammering Hannah Brooks.”

Johnson County’s Little League softball team consisted of only four teams in 2017 but nobody is complaining. That was one more than the previous season after they didn’t play two seasons ago.
Johnson County High School’s softball coach Angela Blevins knows the value of her up-and-coming players and so does middle school coach Greg Reece. Both are determined to step in and help the cause.

Blevins and her coaching staff will hold a camp starting Monday, July 17th.
Blevins, who was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame where she played college softball, is determined to elevate the program to another level. To do so means installing a love for softball to all the girls at a young age beginning with the elementary school athletes.
“We want to help and we want them to learn,” added Blevins. “It’s going to be a four-day skills clinic with the focus being on teaching fundamentals. We’ve invited several former players to come back and work as instructors. Some of those will have played college softball.”
Blevins added that something will be there that might catch anyone’s eye who wants to participate.
“We’re going to work on pitching, catching, fielding and hitting,” stated Blevins. “Each player will receive hands-on instruction that should help them improve their game. We are very interested in getting the Little League players hooked on softball. It’s vital to the junior high and our high school program.”

The cost of the camp is $30 and is for players age 8-12. Each participant will receive a camp tee shirt. There will be no preregistration. Signups will take place beginning at 5:00 on Monday with the camp kicking off at 6 pm.
“They tried to have something like this in the past but only a dozen kids showed up,” added Blevins. “Our goal is to get all the Little League softball players to come out and learn more about the game. We encourage those that played in the league and some of the coach pitch girls moving up to come out and participate.”

Johnson County 7-8-year-olds fall to Boone 11-9 on Saturday

JC 7-8 year old All-Starts Front row, L-R: Connor Stout, Hunter McElyea, Avery Blevins, Braxton Bragg, Carter Atwood, and Dylan Reece. Middle Row, L-R: Grayson Day, Skylar Gentry, Eli Tester, Kyle Maple, Sawyer Marshall, Grayson Espinoza, and Nate Sutherland. Back Row, Coaches: Ricky Shaw, Craig McElyea, Chris Sutherland, and Brian Day

By Tim Chambers

Home standing Johnson County was hoping to bounce back from a 9-8 loss to Blountville on Saturday and avoid being eliminated from the 7-8-year-old Little League All-Star tournament.  Unfortunately, one bad inning would decide the outcome.
Daniel Boone overcame a 6-3 deficit to win a hard fought 11-9 contest on Sunday afternoon at Cunningham Park.
It was a nip and tuck affair from the outset as both teams scored three times in their first at-bat.
Grayson Day, Grayson Espinoza and Skyler Gentry all had hits and scored in the first inning. A sharp single by Avery Blevins plated Conner Stout and Eli Tester who had hit safely in the second inning.
Johnson County held Boone scoreless in the second inning thanks to a pair of good defensive gems from shortstop Sawyer Marshall.
Day singled and scored in the third with the help of base hits by Gentry and Marshall.  That allowed them to maintain a 6-3 cushion.
But a tidal wave of miscues would sink their ship when Boone came to bat in the bottom half. The boys from Gray scored five times with the help of three errors and a throwing blunder.
Boone led 8-6 at that point.
Johnson County stormed back to tie the game in the fourth. Kyle Maple got things started with an inside-the-park homerun. Dylan Reece singled and later scored on a base hit by Hunter McElyea.
Boone took an 11-8 led in the fifth on a two-run double by Garrison James and an RBI single from Hudson Harwood.
Johnson County needed three runs to tie in their last at-bat but came up two short. They had the tying run on the base but a forced out ended the game.
Day, Espinoza and Tester went 3-3 each to lead Johnson County. Gentry, Bragg, Maple and Reece added two hits apiece. Carter Atwood, Marshall, Stout, Blevins and McElyea collected one each.
Espinoza sparked the defense with a fine catch in centerfield. Marshall and Day had several good plays from their shortstop and second base positions.
Boone advances to play Blountville in the loser’s bracket finals on Monday. Johnson City American stands as the only unbeaten team remaining.

‘Tom Terrific’ Reece loves being the voice of the Longhorns

Tom Reece, voice of the Longhorns

By Tim Chambers

Sports fans in Johnson County are fortunate they have radio and internet that broadcast Longhorns’ football, basketball and now baseball and softball games. And the best word to describe the man behind the microphone is simply “Tom Terrific.”
Nobody does Longhorn sports better than Tom Reece. The former Longhorn standout in basketball and baseball graduated in 1964 and has been a loyal supporter ever since.
In addition to his broadcasting duties, he takes time to visit the nursing homes and is active in his church. He was on the Johnson County School Board for 16 years and has worked in the local youth leagues for more than four decades.  He’s also a well respected veteran, serving as a naval officer during the Vietnam War.
“I love Johnson County,” said Reece. “I worked in Damascus, Virginia before moving to Ohio for five years. I came back and spent 10 years at Maymead before retiring. It was great to get back home where I was raised. Johnson County has always been home and you it miss when you’re gone.”
Like many fans would miss Reece if he wasn’t broadcasting games on WCMT, 1390 AM.
“We do all the varsity football games and one basketball game per week,” added Reece. “We also do all the basketball tournament games. Now we can be heard on the internet in addition to being on the radio locally. It’s a good way to keep up with our high school teams.”
This year Reece and WCMT 1390 AM stepped it up even more. Fans were able to listen to some baseball and softball games for the first time. Included was also a middle school softball game.
“One year we did a middle school football game when they reached the playoffs,” added Reece. “I’m willing to do it but you have to have sponsors and somebody at the station. You have to have certain logistics when you broadcast any type of ball game. There are a lot of things that factor in.”
Reece does have helpers.
Middle school softball coach Greg Reece assists Tom during football games. He, Brad Reece and Jerry Whitener all make up the basketball side.
But baseball and softball are a different story.
“I probably like broadcasting baseball the best because you can talk between pitches,” said Reece. “The other sports, especially basketball is so fast paced. You have to be on top of every play.”
From military naval officer during the Vietnam War in the Philippians to Ohio and back to Mountain City, Reece is well respected everywhere he goes.
His wife, Belinda, is a fantastic cook who sends awesome desserts during football and basketball games. He has a son and daughter, Brad and Stacy, and they have worn several hats in the Longhorns’ organization.
His three grandchildren, Gabe, Gavin and Graham are all Longhorn athletes.
Reece recalled one of his favorite all time games he did on the air.
“We were playing Elizabethton and they were very good. We held the ball and led them after the first half. The final score ended up being something like 25-22. They were so much more talented, but we did keep it close. That game has always stood out and the one where we beat them about three years ago.”
Reece was making reference to the 50-45 victory three years ago inside of Treadway Gymnasium versus the Cyclones.
He is not afraid to tell people on the air what color his blood runs.
“Sullivan East has a lot of fans close by and they listen to us when we play them,” said Reece. “I always let them know that I am from Johnson County before the broadcast begins. I tell them I’m a homer and ask them not to be offended by what’s said during the broadcast.”
The fact is that Reece doesn’t say anything bad to get mad about, especially Longhorn fans.
“I never say which kid got a penalty or technical over the air,” added Reece. “I want parents and fans to enjoy the broadcast. We’re not in this to embarrass kids. We want to try and help them.”
Football is only a couple of months away and so is “Radio Reece.”
Fans are expecting a terrific season in football and basketball.
All Longhorn fans should applaud “Tom Terrific” for bringing Longhorn sports to us. We couldn’t find anyone better to be the “voice of the Horns.”
Thank you for your services.

Gary Woodard, a true champion and role model for his players

Marlins coach Gary Woodard takes Zack Parsons’ bat after a towering home run.

By Tim Chambers

It was a banner season for the Little League Marlins and their head coach should get some much deserved credit. Gary Woodard led his team though the season undefeated after defeating the Dodgers in the tournament championship game on Tuesday.
Woodard has been involved in the league for nine years with five coming in the majors.
He also runs his own business and takes an active role in his church at State Line Baptist. He’s a Christian role model for all the kids and parents to be around.
“I just enjoy being around the kids and trying to help them get better,” said Woodard. “It’s been a special season so far. The kids have worked extremely hard and all of them are fun to coach and be around.”
Woodard’s words were a bit modest for a team who has reeled off 13 consecutive victories.
“The good Lord has blessed us with no injuries and things have gone in our favor,” added Woodard. “We’ve had some close games but the kids have just pulled together. It’s been a wonderful year and these kids deserve the credit. They’re dedicated because we practice hard. It’s just been a very special 15 games.”
Special seasons for special teams comes because of special players.
The Marlins have the most special one in Zack Parsons, who led the league in about every category.
“Zack is a very unique player,” said Woodard. “He’s diversified and can play anywhere. You can put him anywhere on the field and he’s happy. He loves to play baseball and the kids look up to him as our team leader. He’s a wonderful young man to coach.”
Woodard acknowledges that every player on the team had done something to help them stay undefeated.
“Conner Stout has come alive this year as our shortstop. He can cover some ground. Tanner Putnam has pitched so well and got us out of some tight squeezes. He too is one of those guys that our kids look up to.
Putnam is the team’s second ace pitcher and second leading hitter. But the cast is much more than this trio.
Donnie Curd has been a standout backstop according to Woodard.
“It’s his second year as a player and he’s been a wall back there. Catching Zack is not an easy thing to do and he does that well. Jordan James has turned into a really good player despite this being his first year. He’s definitely been a real good find.”
James was 2-2 with an inside-the-park homerun versus the Dodgers in the championship game.
Woodard praised another trio of players including Daniel Stout, Hank Sauer and Leland Morley.
Daniel is an 11-year-old that has done several good things for us including pitching,” said Woodard. “Leland and Hank are 10-year-old players who keep getting better every game. They too can pitch and will be counted on next season.”
Woodard singled out the play of first year player Dominic Kelly.
“He’s been a great find at centerfield and he hasn’t played since tee-ball. He’s gotten several big hits for us. Kainen Hamm and Connor Gentry have stepped up recently despite this being their first year. We’ve got three on the team who haven’t played since tee-ball. We’ve got some older players but we’ve also got a lot that haven’t played much either.”
Woodard praised his assistant coaches, Adam Sauer, Jody Putnam, Bobby Stout and Anthony Hall.
“Adam, Jody and Bobby all have been tremendous,” said Woodard. “Anthony has been a big help at practices and games when he can be here.”
Woodard is looking forward to coaching the 11-12-year-old All-Star team especially with Parsons and Putnam leading the way.
“We tried to set our pitching to where we would have everyone available during the regular season” said Woodard. “We got some good arms on our All-Star team. Coaching this bunch makes the season even that more special. I hope we all can make Johnson County proud.”

Dbacks hold off Cardinals 22-21 in softball championship

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

tomahawksportseditor@gmail.com

 

The softball Little League girls saved their best game for last in the championship game on Tuesday. Their title contest turned into a marathon before the outcome was decided.
The Diamondbacks were able to outlast the Cardinals 22-21 before a large gathering at Ralph Stout Park, but the end result was what made it so special.
Both teams met on the field after the game to offer up hugs and congratulations to one another. It was a wonderful gesture by the players for a league who has come a long way since the first pitch was thrown back in April.
“You couldn’t have asked for a better game,” said D-backs Head Coach Gary Evans. “The kids from both teams gave it their all and showed us coaches and fans how the game should be played. They left everything out there on the field. This was a huge step for our softball league that has come miles. This is the middle school feeder program. It’s critical that we improve on it and keep it going.”
It would be hard to improve on the championship tilt.
The two teams combined for 30 base hits and 43 runs in a contest that lasted over three hours. That didn’t dampen their spirits after it was over.
Three lead changes took place over the five-inning event until Alyssa McElyea scampered home on a wild pitch to end the contest. She did it on a 2-2 count.
The league champion Cardinals got off to a blazing start by scoring 10 times in the opening frame. The D-Backs would get half of those back in the bottom half and went up 11-10 by scoring five times in the third.
The Cardinals scored four times in the fourth and added a solo run in the fifth to retake the lead.
It appeared is if they had things in hand leading 21-20 heading into the final frame.
But that was not to be.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.

 

Marlins win JCLL tournament 5-0; Parsons fires no-hitter, 15 K’s

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

tomahawksportseditor@gmail.com

To win a big game you often need a big-time performance from a big-time player. Zack Parsons was all of that on Tuesday.
The league’s top player hit a mammoth home run and pitched one “whale” of a game leading the Marlins to a 5-0 win over the Dodgers before a capacity crowd at Cunningham Park.
The “Fish” had finished the regular season undefeated and were hoping to pull off the rare feat. Parsons made sure their record stayed unblemished.
He fired a no-hitter striking out 15 batters while allowing only three base runners. He nearly pitched a complete game but exceeded the 85-pitch count with one batter remaining. Tanner Putnam struck out the final batter to end the game.
“It’s hard to find words to describe how Zack played tonight,” said Marlins’ manager Gary Woodard. “He’s a great kid and a great player. We have a lot of those on this team and they all stepped up and played well tonight.”
Parsons especially did but there were others. Jordan James was one of those.
He set the tone in the second inning by turning a single into an inside-the-park homerun after two errors were committed. Parsons and Putnam scored on the play after leading off the inning with walks.
That was all the run support needed for the big righty.
Dakota Holt, Ezra Howard and Tim Brown were able to draw walks for the Dodgers but couldn’t score. That wasn’t the case for the Marlins’ dynamic duo.
Parsons led off the fourth inning with a towering home run that landed some 285 feet estimated from home plate. James followed that up with a line drive shot into the right field corner that ended in an inside-the-park homerun.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.

Giants top Braves for Johnson County T-Ball Championship

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

tomahawksportseditor@gmail.com

The Braves made it a habit of playing close games, but unfortunately they came up one run short in the championship game. The Giants scored 16 runs and needed all of them in their 16-15 victory over the Braves on Saturday at Ralph Stout Park.
The Braves had squeaked by the Pirates 4-3 to reach the title game and needed two wins to bring home the gold. But both teams left happy after each received a trophy and individual awards.
The Braves scored five times in their first at-bat but the Giants did four better by putting nine on the board.
It appeared as if the Braves might be on their way to victory after a 10-run outburst during their second at-bat.
Their 15-9 lead began to evaporate and suddenly the Giants pulled within one at 15-14.
Clayton Furches ended the game by ripping a base hit that drove in two runs for the Giants and game them their 16-15 victory.
Camden Johnson played outstanding defense on the mound for the Giants. Kearsten Jennings set the tone on offense by hitting safely in each time at-bat for the winners from her leadoff spot.
Clayton Furches, Annalynne Perkins, Grayson Hensley, and Scotty Orndorff hit the ball well all season for the Giants and in the championship game.
Mason Luckett played lights out on defense for the Braves and hit the ball well. Bentley Forrester had several key hits and played good in the field for the Braves.