Longhorn football has a special beat

Longhorns wide receiver Nathan Mink and his brother Jonah pose for a photo during Media Day held
earlier this month at Johnson County High School. The Mink brothers are ready to give their best on
and off the field. Photo by Tamas Mondovics.

By Tim Chambers

When Johnson County’s band takes the field on August 23 against Sullivan East, one face will stand out among them all. Jonah Mink is now a drummer in the band after many years of being one of their most loyal football fans.
Jonah’s brother Nathan is a key member of this year’s Longhorn football team and he will definitely see plenty of action as a wide receiver and defensive back.
You can also bet that Jonah will be there cheering him on when he’s not performing with the band on the field and in the stands.
Jonah’s mother Tonya is a physical therapist in the Johnson County School System and has been involved in the Special Olympics for a number of years.
The Mink family has been a fixture at the games for the past four seasons and this year might be just a little bit different. The Longhorns hope to march to their third consecutive conference championship with the Mink family leading the way.
One thing is for certain. You can bet that “Jonah” and his family will be having a “whale” of a time on the football field and in the stands.

The JCHS volleyball team sweeps North in scrimmage

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

The JCHS volleyball team went on the road Thursday for a scrimmage against Sullivan North. The team has not been able to add many scrimmage games to the list of things to do before the season starts, but Coach Michele Cooke kept the girls busy with volleyball camp and scheduled practices.
Cooke said it was vital to make sure her players were ready for the media day event (jamboree) at Science Hill High School on August 13 and the season opener against Sullivan North on August 19. The team, however, was just excited at the chance to compete with one of their fiercest competitors last year.
Cooke was very pleased with how the team played against North, “the girls are continuing to improve every day.”
She has been impressed with the fearlessness of her team in attacking the net and placing the ball. “My hitters were able to hit the holes of their opponents, thinking ahead of where to place the ball. It is a really good thing to see at this point of the season.” The Longhorn coach continued expressing her satisfaction with her players defensively as well, “they are moving better on the court, they had some awesome defensive moves which turned the ball around for us.” The varsity team beat North in three games, while the junior varsity (JV) team won one out of three games. Cooke feels confident her JV team will continue to improve, “they did well, and their play has improved compared to the previous practices.”
The scrimmage was useful to the team by allowing them a little glimpse of how well they can do this season. Abby Cornett states, “I felt we did really well playing as a team. We communicated and trusted each other.” Taylor Cox expresses her take on the scrimmage game, “I was excited to see how we would do, and after it was over, I felt pretty good about everything, if we keep communicating and working together we
are going to have a good season.”
The volleyball team will be very busy next week traveling not only to Sullivan North but also Elizabethton on Tuesday, August 20 and Sullivan Central on Thursday, August 22.

Scott, defeating all odds

Longhorns DE Jamal Scott is pictured with his mother, Diana Mock. Submitted photo.

By Tim Chambers

The Johnson County football team has been defeating all odds over the past two seasons by being ranked in the Class 3-A Associated Press State polls for 19 consecutive weeks. But none of that compares to the odds that Jamal Scott overcame to finally fulfill his dream as a starter on this year’s football team.
Scott will display his talents as a defensive end and senior leader for the 2019 Longhorns when they open the season against Sullivan East at home on August 23. But nobody could have predicted this would happen back during his junior high days.
Jamal had wanted to play football all his life but couldn’t do so because of brain surgery that he had at six years old. He touched on his long journey that finally landed him a starting role on this year’s football squad.
“Football is all that I’ve ever wanted to do,” said Scott. “The doctors wouldn’t let me play any youth league sports until I reached the eighth grade. It was hard watching everyone participate and not being able to do what I had always dreamed of.”
The call finally came seven years after the surgery when doctors cleared him to start playing finally. He described the news with a huge grin on his face.
“It was like heaven to me when I heard the words that I could finally begin playing. Coach Matt Bray put me on the junior high team, and I was probably the happiest student in Johnson County.”
But things didn’t come easy for Scott when he first suited up in full gear. He said that it had been a five-year learning process since the first day that he put on the pads.
“I didn’t even know how to get down in a stance my first day of practice, and that’s very important if you’re a lineman,” added Scott. “I had a ton of catching up to do and playing time didn’t come easy. But Coach Bray kept working with me and he encouraged me to give my all. I played only a couple of plays in the jamboree, but I moved up to varsity and stayed there all season. I couldn’t get enough of it.”
Scott credited football for him being able to make a lot of new friends and opening doors that he hadn’t had open before.
“I became close to my teammates and got to meet a lot of people. I got to know many of my teachers and some of them that I didn’t know until I started playing football. It was a win-win for me. I was playing my favorite sports and loving every minute of it.”
“The passion for taking the field on a Friday night has never been better for Scott as he enters his senior campaign. Last year he started a few games at defensive end, and he hopes to contribute much more to this year’s squad.
“My goal is to average between six to eight tackles per game,” said Scott. “My job as a defensive end is to set up the tackles for our linebackers and prevent anyone from getting to the outside. I also hope to maybe play some offensive guard, and that would be special too. I’ve always wanted to get some pancake blocks, and being in that role would allow me to do so.”
Jamal loves being one of the senior leaders on the team but said that Jared Kimble and Curtis Lowe would be the two main cogs.
“They are very good at what they do,” said Scott. “They are excellent leaders that everyone looks up to. It’s pretty cool going from not ever playing football five years ago to now being a starter. I don’t take anything for granted because I know how hard it was for me to get here and I want to lead by example.”
Scott said the team’s goal was to win a third consecutive conference championship and advance past the second round of the state playoffs. He feels like that can be accomplished if they can cut down on some miscues.
“I can see us being conference champs again if we can correct our mistakes. We have to potential to go a long way if we can get everything fixed over the next couple of weeks. At times we’re our own worst enemy.”
Scott is the son of Diana Mock of Shady Valley and Jonathan Scott of Gray. He plans on going into the medical field, possibly
some therapy, but for now, he’ll continue to defeat all odds.
He’s hoping that his “heaven” extends for another 13 games plus in 2019.

Seniors’ talent and leadership key to a successful season

The Johnson County High School, varsity volleyball team, enjoys the team photo opportunity ahead of the 2019-2020, fall season. The program led by coaches, Michelle Cooke, and Sarah Swift is set to serve up a solid competitive season.                                      Photo by Tamas Mondovics

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

The JCHS volleyball team will have a mixture of talent, grit, determination, and expertise that will prove to be a whole package as they step on the court for the first time this season.
Speculation has abounded how Coach Michelle Cooke can best utilize the team of athletic players to make what many hope to be one of the most successful seasons Johnson County has seen in quite some time.
Cooke agreed that senior leadership will be the key to success for this year’s team.
With seven seniors returning and have proven themselves throughout their high school volleyball career, there is plenty of reason to be hopeful for the upcoming fall season.
With an arsenal fully loaded of gifted players, the importance then goes where to place the right player in the correct position. The senior net players have both height and experience to get the job done.
Sydney Souder knows this position well; her height, experience, and strength will make her unstoppable at the net and on the service line. Souder’s serves are powerful and hard to return, while Olivia Dixon and Emily Garr also demonstrate power for both hitting and blocking.
The unexpected hitter is 5’4 senior Abby Cornett, who hits right into the set and puts the ball over the net with a powerful, downward spiral, leaving her unsuspecting opponents baffled.
Adaptable and strong, Hannah Brooks will be one of the setters for this year’s squad.  Cooke also refers to Brooks as a defensive specialist who can provide positive leadership for the team. Izzy Furches is returning to volleyball after a two-year absence; she will be a solid back-row player for the team. Rounding out this year’s team of seniors is Taylor Cox. Cox is an athletic powerhouse demonstrating both flexibility and versatility. Cooke states, “Taylor is quick; she is a good hitter and setter, we will be taking advantage of that unique combination.” Cox is also a threat at the service line, with both power and placement.
The competition will be fierce for this year’s volleyball team, but the seniors have been here before. The Lady Horns waited for the opportunity to control the outcome of the game and understand it is now on them to prove that Johnson County is capable and ready to go all the way.
According to Cooke, the key for the seasoned seniors is to stay positive and motivated. “We can’t get discouraged amid adversity,” she said. “We have to stay positive if we want to be successful,” Cooke emphasized.  Staying positive in the face of adversity is a difficult task for this team, but with the passion of the Souder, the calming leadership of Brooks, and the cheerful motivation of Cox it can be done.

Travel will be less for Longhorn football fans

The Johnson County High School Football season will begin with two                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      home games, August 23 and August 30, inside Paul McEwen Stadium                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          in Mountain City, TN. Photos by Tamas Mondovics


Tomahawk Talk:
By Tim Chambers
Freelance Writer

Many readers have emailed me asking if I was back covering sports at the Tomahawk. The answer is yes, but with help. It’s a blessing to have Beth Cox taking pictures and writing sports stories. Her talents are off the charts, and we are hoping to improve the sports department immensely over the next few weeks.
I will focus on high school and junior high football while Beth is the mastermind with volleyball. Both of us will work together to bring you golf and youth league football along with some recreational stories.
The question our readers have asked me since arriving back on the scene is, what does our football team look like this year? My response is a simple one.
The Horns will be young and inexperienced at some key skill positions and once again will be unproven. The 11-1 team in 2017 is history and the 9-2 season in 2018 is now in the books.
It should be a fun year for Longhorn fans who will find the schedule to be one in their favor. The travel is not nearly as extensive as it has been in past years.
The Longhorns will open the season with two games at home. They’ll play Sullivan East in the season opener on August 23, and will then host Sullivan North inside of Paul McEwen Stadium on August 30.
North could be one of the favorites to win the Watauga Conference in Class 2-A making that a tough matchup. The Longhorns will travel to Chuckey-Doak on September 6 before taking the week off on the 13th.
The Horns will make their second trip to Greene County on September 20 when they face West Greene in Mosheim, and it gets even tougher the following week.
A trip down to Hampton on September 27 will have Johnson County playing three consecutive away games. They’ll finally return home on October 4 to face Claiborne County at home.
They’ll make a second trip back to Carter County on October 11, when they face Happy Valley in another rival game and will close out their away schedule the following week at North Greene on October 18.
The Longhorns will get a stern test on October 25 when Cloudland comes to Harold Arnold Field. All eyes should be on the regular-season finale.
The Longhorns entertain Unicoi County at home on November 1, in what many prognosticators are predicting to be for the conference championship.
That might be the case, but it’s way too early to tell, and here is why.

Three keys to success for the
2019 Longhorns
Their most significant task is trying to replace 2018 All-State running back and East Tennessee’s leading scorer Nathan Lane along linebacker Tyler Norris who led Northeast Tennessee in tackles and set the schools record for the most ever in a single season and career.
The second key to success is can someone fill the roles of quarterback Troy Arnold and speedster wide receiver Zack Eller.
Arnold was like having a coach on the field and knew how to orchestrate the offense. The Longhorns didn’t turn the ball over much because Arnold knew how to recognize defenses.
The speed of Zack Eller complimented Lane because he was a threat to make big plays at any given moment. The majority of Eller’s touchdowns covered 50 yards or more.
The third key is learning how to win close games. The Longhorns suffered a heartbreaking 20-19 loss to Hampton last year because they didn’t value the football on offense and turned it over at critical times.
But they bounced back and came from behind to defeat West Greene and stole one from Cloudland on the road in Roan Mountain.
The Horns reeled off eight straight wins to close out the regular season before falling to Gatlinburg-Pittman 36-33 in the first round of the playoffs.

Season Outlook
It would be unfair for me to make a prediction at this point. The Horns have two tough league games before their showdown with Unicoi County, and both of them are on the road in Greene County. They also play Happy Valley, Hampton, and Sullivan North in non-conference games and all three will battle it out for the top spot in District 1 2-A. Cloudland returns all of its line and will be favored to win District 1 1-A.
But it all starts with Sullivan East in the home opener.
Tim Chambers can be reached by email at tomahawksportseditor@gmail.com

Golf and Volleyball teams look forward to new season

Jackson Mays joins Longhorns Golf Coach Eric Crabtree just days before the season start. Mays is promising to lead the program during the 2019-2020 season. Photo by Beth Cox

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

With the start of a new school year, coaches and players have very little time to get ready for the first game of the season. However, most high school fall teams have been practicing throughout the summer, but now the excitement is building for the start of the season.
While football dominates fall sports, volleyball and golf will also be on the roster of sports events that will be gaining more attention this year.
Coach Eric Crabtree is beginning his third year with the Longhorn golf team.
Last year proved to be a good year for the team, winning third in the conference and making it to regionals under Crabtree’s leadership. This year, however, maybe more of a building season since last year’s three top seeds graduated last year, Crabtree states this year will be a rebuilding year.
“Our top three seeds graduated last year, but we have seniors Petie Pavusek and Jackson Mays back this year to lead our team.” Crabtree continued, “I am really excited about the future of our golf team, we had a lot of freshmen join the team this year, so in a few years we will be more competitive.”
Crabtree is grateful that his team is able to practice at Redtail Mountain Resort, but has to play matches away at present.
The golf team will have its first match on August 14.

Johnson County High School Longhorns volleyball players gather for a photo during a recent media day ahead of the 2019-2020 season. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

For volleyball coach Michele Cooke, the season cannot come soon enough. She sees only good things happening for her team. With seven returning seniors and two juniors, and a solid JV team, the volleyball team is poised to accomplish great things this season. Cooke likes what she sees in her team.
“They are great communicators especially in transitional play, they work together as a team, and that’s very important for us to be successful,” Cooke said adding that she is looking for her seniors to lead the team, which will not be a problem for the athletic group of girls, several of whom have played together since they were freshmen.
Hannah Brooks expresses her feelings about the team, “we look a lot better, and we have great chemistry this year.”
Fellow seniors Taylor Cox and Abby Cornett share the same sentiment as Brooks and add, “we are excited to be working with Coach Cooke, we have heard great things about her, and we have Coach Sarah Jennings back this year as well, so it’s going to be a good year.”
Sydney Souder added her perspective and feelings when she said, “we have been together for four years, we are a close on and off the court, we play well together; I expect us to go far.”
The volleyball season jamboree will be at Science Hill High School on August 20.


Jared Kimble, jack of all trades

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County has been a football Mecca statewide for the past two seasons, and part of the reason is the many talented players that left their mark on Longhorns’ football. Jared Kimble is hoping to do the same by leading them to another championship season in 2019 and its fourth straight playoff berth.
The Horns are faced with trying to replace their All-State superstar Nathan Lane who led East Tennessee in scoring and the school’s all-time leading tackler in linebacker Tyler Norris. Also missing is their star receiver and top defensive back Zack Eller.
It’s definitely some big shoes to fill, but Kimble looks to be the one that can wear the giant boots.
“They all were great players so taking over for them is something that I’m definitely going to have to work at,” said Kimble. “We had to do the same the year before when Nathan Arnold, Hayden Osborne, and Shane Greer graduated. We’ve had a lot of success up here, and our senior class hopes to keep it going. We’re confident that we can step up and be a good football team too.”
The senior speedster will take over the tailback position in addition to being penciled in as one of the starting linebackers. Kimble will also double as the placekicker and punter.
Kimble is the jack-of-all-trades according to head coach Don Kerley.
“Jared is probably our best athlete on the team,” said Kerley. “He’s our best running back and probably our best receiver. We’ll be getting him the ball quite a bit this year. He’s somebody we’re going to count on to do a lot for our football team. Much of our success will depend on him and Curtis Lowe.”
Kimble feels like he’s up for the challenge after an up and down roller coaster ride during the past two seasons. He suffered a broken leg seven games into his sophomore year and came back last
year after some extensive rehab.
He knows the expectations are high due to the face that the team is 20-3 over the past two seasons and has been ranked in the top 10 statewide in Class 3-A during that span.
“I really like being the go-to guy, being part of the show,” added Kimble. “I know what our fans expect, and I want us to be another good team they can be proud of. I’m not out here to play for myself or for any individual awards. My goal is to lead our football team to another conference championship and to get past the second round in the state playoffs.”
Kimble is also the key centerpiece when it comes to special teams play. He serves as the team’s placekicker and punter and averaged 40.2 yards per punt in 2018.
“I try and work on my own a lot when it comes to kicking. Coach Kerley does a good job of finding me the time during practice to get in some reps, but I also try and find some extra time to improve that part of my game.”
The road has been a long one for Kimble who didn’t know the extent of his injury back in 2017.
“I was mad at myself because I was going to miss the rest of the season. My doctor assured me that I could come back from it and not miss a beat, so I started working hard at getting back to full speed. Last year I tweaked my ankle and didn’t feel good running, but this year I’m stronger and faster than I’ve ever been. I feel like I can run forever and never stop. That’s the difference in me now.”
Kimble hopes to play at the college level and has the talent and grades to do so.
“That’s something that I would love to do,” added Kimble. “I have a 3.5 GPA overall, and I’m going to retake my ACT in the fall to try and get my score up more. But for now, my focus is on helping our team win football games. Our class has a chance to leave here with three consecutive conference championships and the most wins ever. That means a lot to the rest of our seniors
and me.”

Longhorns busy plugging holes at practice

By Tim Chambers

The popping of pads could be heard last Thursday as high school football teams got their first taste of practice in full gear. Johnson County has been hard at it since participating in the passing league at Hampton nearly two weeks ago.
Head coach Don Kerley and his staff are now preparing the Longhorns for their season opener against Sullivan East on August 23.
The Longhorns will have a new quarterback in 2019 with junior Stacy Greer currently the frontrunner for the job. The coaching staff will spend the next three weeks working with Greer on his accuracy, throwing the football. He has already shown the staff that’s he’s a quality runner.
Kerley stated that senior Jared Kimble had regained all of his speed and then some since breaking his leg at North Greene nearly two years ago.
“We would like for Stacy to play behind center because he’s only a junior,” said Kerley. “It also allows us to do a lot of with Jared who is probably our best receiver and running back.
Kerley said that the strength of his team so far has been the offensive line. They return starters John Stout, Ricky Fenner, and Lucas Walters upfront and L
ogan Gilley is another one who has two years experience as a starter.
The Horns will get battled-tested on Tuesday when they travel to Ridgeview Middle School to scrimmage Daniel Boone. The Trailblazers had possibly the top player in the area in running back Charlie Coe.
They also try and scrimmage Trinity later in the week.
“We want to scrimmage good teams and play against good players,” added Kerley. “We have some good team on our schedule this year, so this will give us some insight into the things we need to work on before our first game.”
Kerley said the new playing field is getting better each day and appears ready for play.
“We scrimmage on it one day and had nearly three inches of rain that night. I was out mowing it the next day. Had it been last year it would have been a week or more before we could have practiced on it again.”
The Longhorns will not be taking part in a jamboree this year.

McClain hired to coach middle school boys basketball

Coach Mark McClain is pictured with his two daughters, Madison and Kenzi and wife Melissa.

By Tim Chambers
Sports Editor

Hiring former Hampton High School basketball standout player and head coach Mark McClain to head up its boys’ middle school basketball program was like taking a page out of the movie “Hoosiers.” The school system got a “Norman-Dale” type coach that will turn out fundamentally sound players like Jimmy Chitwood for Coach Austin Atwood and his high school basketball program.
McClain played four years of varsity basketball for the Bulldogs that began in 1991-1992 and lasted through 1995. He had a season-high 35 points against West Greene as a senior.
McClain went on to coach the Bulldogs for three seasons from 2004-2005 through the 2006-2007 season. He had a winning record his last two years and complied more than 50 wins. His team made it to the Class a sub-state game in 2006 after runner-up finishes in the District and Regional. He later went on to play his college baseball at Tusculum University.
McClain chose to enter the law enforcement field after giving up teaching and coaching and stayed in that capacity for 12 years. He touched on his reason for coming back.
“I’ve really missed being a head coach over the years, so the opportunity to get back into it just kind of presented itself here and I’m super excited about the chance that has been given to me by this administration. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far.”
McClain has been with the team for most of the summer after having more than 40 students attend tryouts. He said that was the toughest part about the job so far.
“We kept 20 players, ten seventh, and ten eighth graders. We have a lot of talented kids up here starting with Conner Simcox who has a chance to be special. We’ve got some catching up to do fundamentally, but I feel like this group can get where they need to be for us to be successful.”
McClain spent the past three years as the assistant girl’s coach at Little Milligan helping his wife Melissa who is the girls’ head coach. He knows the importance of teaching kids how to play the game of basketball the right way.
“You want your middle school coach to be good at teaching fundamentals, and I always felt that way, even as a high school coach. You want your kids to be able to develop a good shot, know how to help on defense, and understand what ball side is all about. You want them to have a good understanding of what to expect when they move over as a freshman to play high school.”
McClain has already spoken to high school head coach Austin Atwood about what he would like to see from the middle school kids when they move up in the ranks.
“Johnson County has two of the best high school
basketball coaches you can find in Coach Atwood and Coach Leon Tolley. I’ve
had a ton of respect for
both of them. I’m hoping
my players compete and play hard because I want them to have some success here and at the high school level. The middle school program needs to be a good feeder system for the high school teams. My goal is to try and develop them.”
The middle school Longhorns were able to attend one basketball camp earlier in the summer. McClain knows his group is making strides.
“My players have worked hard over the summer, and I’ve already started to see improvement. We had a rough camp at King College, but the kids keep getting better with every practice. I’m looking forward to getting started, and hopefully, I can learn some things from Austin and Leon too. We’re all in this thing together.”
McClain will be teaching in the ESC program.

JCMS football team ready for season success

Braving the heat Johnson County Middle School football team prepares for the upcoming fall football season. Photos by Beth Cox

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

The Johnson County Middle School football team has been working hard this summer gearing up for the upcoming football season. Practice has been a little difficult with high humidity and even higher temperatures, but last week’s cooler weather was a huge relief, and coach Devin Shaw made the most of it.
“The boys have worked hard this summer; the break in the hot weather was very nice, and we were able to accomplish a little more this week. I am super proud of my team and their effort.”
Shaw is entering his fourth season as head coach for the Johnson County Middle School football team and is excited about the 2019 season.
“Most of our starting players are returning this year, and our offensive and defensive lines are going to be a huge strength this year,” he said.
Shaw still has positions that need to be filled but doesn’t think that will be an issue based on the hard work his team has shown over the summer. “We’ve averaged around fifteen players this summer, and they have worked their tails off. I believe the extra effort will pay off for us this season.”
Counting on some of his returning key players Shaw said, “We expect Connor Simcox, Hank Saur, Chase Muncy, Daniel Stout, and Nehemiah Willis to be our standouts and leaders on the line this year.”
Ethan Simcox will lead the team as this year’s starting quarterback. Shaw had only positive comments about his quarterback.
“Ethan has worked hard to get much better over the summer and will do a great job for his team,” he said.
Chad Morefield will also return, and because of his versatility, he can play almost any position
but will be utilized as a running back and wide receiver. Shaw
believes he will be able to add
some more depth to his team once school starts back. The head coach is also grateful for the help his assistant coaches have provided over the summer.” I have some great assistant coaches and depend on them quite a bit.”
JCMS assistant coaches include Mark Humphreys, Brian Arnold, and Elijah Osborne.
There is still a lot of work to be done between now and the football
jamboree scheduled for Tuesday, August 13, but the Johnson County Middle School football team will be ready for action and prove they have what it takes to be successful this year.

JCHS cheerleaders are geared for new school year

July 24, 2019


The 2019-2020 JCHS Cheer Squad

The JCHS cheerleaders with coaches Michelle Walters and Jennifer Harry started preparing for the upcoming school year with a cheer camp at Roan Creek Baptist Church. Photo by Beth Cox.

By Beth Cox
Freelance writer

The JCHS cheerleaders started preparing for the upcoming school year with a cheer camp at Roan Creek Baptist Church. Under the leadership of coaches Michelle Walters and Jennifer Harry, the cheerleading camp was led by the Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) which brings more experienced cheerleaders to teach stunts, new cheers, chants, and band dance. Walters was pleased with the effectiveness of the camp and thought it was very successful.

“We have several new cheerleaders this year, so the camp was a good opportunity for the girls to learn from some of the best cheerleaders in the area; it was a nice experience for the whole team.”

Several girls were awarded “All American” cheerleaders for demonstrating excellent performances in the areas of cheer, dance, and jumps. Those awarded included Chloe Arnold, Chloe Hopkins, Charly Martin, Marisela Mejia, DeAnna Greer, Megan Pardue, Bella Phipps, Danielle Robinson, Hannah Walker, Ashlee Williams, and Natalie Winters.

Walters is going into her third year the high school cheerleaders’ coach after being a cheer coach with the middle school for three years. Walters is focusing on continuing the upward trend of producing quality cheerleaders that exemplify the Longhorn pride, and also to encourage and aid her squad to sign on to cheer for college teams. Walters states, though, the most important goal is always to provide the safest environment possible for her team, “these girls are very important to me, so the most important component to our success is to keep the girls free from injury.” The compassionate coach added, “for the past two years, we have had a cheerleader sign with a college, it would be so nice to keep that trend going, and we have several talented cheerleaders that are capable of competing at the next level. I anticipate a great season for the cheerleaders.”

The cheerleading season lasts longer than most sports as the squad starts with football and continues to the end of the basketball season. By all rights, cheerleading is a tough sport that rarely gets recognized for the attention it deserves.  Cheerleaders go through rigorous training and crucial practices to perfect the routines that are demonstrated at games; cheerleading is another critical component of the completion of a successful athletic school year.

JCHS Volleyball coach optimistic after UTC volleyball camp

The JCHS volleyball team with UTC head coach Travis Filar pose for a photo at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga volleyball camp. Submitted photo

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

The JCHS volleyball team traveled to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Friday for a weekend volleyball camp. The girls were able to work with UTC head coach Travis Filar as well as other volleyball coaches along with the UTC volleyball players.
Filar has led the UTC volleyball team to back-to-back conference finals and in 2015 won the Southern Conference Championship.
The JCHS volleyball team was instructed in-service drills, positional training, and transitioning. Members of the team also received training on how to control the ball, as well as other offensive and defensive skills while received group and individual instructional time throughout the course of the weekend.
The girls also got to compete with other teams that attended the UTC camp. On Sunday, the JV and Varsity squads competed in a pool play in the morning session.
The JCHS varsity team had two wins and one loss, which qualified the girls to play in the gold bracket Sunday afternoon.
The freshmen qualified for the silver bracket but played with both varsity and JV throughout the tournament.
Coach Cooke felt the UTC camp was the best fit for the Lady Longhorns and thought Coach Filar could provide some important drills and instructional time that would benefit the squad.
Pleased with the progress she saw in her team throughout the weekend.
“The camp provided our team with an awesome opportunity for growth and development as individuals and as a team,” Cooke said. “It has been good for team chemistry.” She added, “They have worked well together and worked super hard and will reap the rewards in the upcoming season. I am very grateful to the parents, players, and community for the support that helped fund this tremendous experience.”
Under Cooke’s leadership, the volleyball team has a chance to go far this year. The JCHS volleyball team lost three seniors last year, but the veteran coach was hit with a double whammy when two pivotal players, Natalie Winters and Taylor Parsons decided not to return to volleyball. Cooke will have to make some adjustments for the absence of Winters and Parsons, but she still has some returning players that have what it takes to help fill those essential volleyball spots. This year’s seniors
have plenty of talent and experience. They can also
provide strong leadership for the team. Cooke also has some strong players coming up from JV who will contribute to the team’s success as well.

Longhorns beat the heat for camp experience

Members of the JCHS football team enjoy a break between games at UVA Wise lineman camp last week. The tourney allowed players to measure up their strength ahead of the 2019-2020 fall football season. Submitted photo

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

The JCHS football team participated in two camps this week. The players and coaches traveled to the University of Virginia at Wise on Thursday followed by Hampton High School on Saturday and Sunday.
The lineman camp at UVA Wise provided a seven on seven tournament for players.
The boys played in four games as a pre-tournament warm-up on a twenty-minute continuous clock. The all-passing tournament played on a 40-yard field plus end zone.
After the pre-tourney warm-up, the Longhorns were the third seed in the round-robin tournament but unfortunately lost first round in tournament play.
The players benefitted greatly from the very popular and one of the most effective football camps in the region and, for a good reason.
The UVA Wise lineman camp helps the quarterback, receivers, and running
backs with passing and catching.
“The UVA Wise was an amazing opportunity for our team,” said Longhorn Offensive Line Coach, Craig Cox. “They worked hard for Coach Compton and learned a lot about what it is like in a collegiate environment. The players also were able to be seen by a college for recruitment.”
Recent JCHS graduate, Christian Krupsky has signed to play football with UVA Wise for the 2019-2020 school year.
The players got to learn from one of the best under the direction of the offensive Coach, Mike Compton, who was a professional football player for twelve years before becoming a full-time football coach.
Compton has played for the Detroit Lions and retired with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coach Compton also played with the New England Patriots when they won the 2001 and 2003
Super Bowl championship. He joined UVA Wise in
The Longhorns also participated in a two-day passing league at Hampton High School. The players got to be a part of tournament action against other teams in the region.
The boys started strong and beat North Greene in the first-round action, but lost to Hampton in the second round of the tournament on Sunday.
Coach Kerley liked what he saw in his team. He knows there is a lot of work to be done, but feels his team has a solid foundation to build upon for the upcoming football season.
The football camps are not about winning or losing, but to provide the players with opportunities for development and growth. The coaches can evaluate the strengths of the football team and assess areas that need more attention and incorporate these critical components into football practices that will begin next week.

Atwood to play for King University

JCHS Longhorn 2019 stand-out Blake Atwood, right, with his father JCHS basketball coach Austin Atwood, has signed with King University for the 2019-2020 season. Submitted photo.

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

Johnson County’s All-Northeast boys’ basketball player of the year, Blake Atwood officially signed with King University for the 2019-2020, basketball season.
Several colleges were knocking at Atwood’s door for the chance to have the 6’2 point guard play for their schools, but after careful consideration, the young athlete chose King University.
The Mr. Basketball finalist says that his main reason for choosing King was the respect he has for head coach, George Pitts.
“Coach Pitts has been around a long time and is a great coach, the last half of the season he was at almost every one of my games,” Atwood said.
Atwood emphasized that Coach Pitts likes his team to shoot a lot of threes and play high-pressure defense adding “this playstyle fits me perfectly.” The respect is mutual with Pitts as well. The head basketball coach emphasized his choice for Atwood when he said, “I recruited Blake all season. I watched him play six to eight times, but when he got 34 points against Fulton at sub-state, I had no doubt I wanted him.”
Pitts explained how valuable Atwood will be for King basketball. “Blake is an excellent student, so I don’t have to worry about class issues, he knows basketball, he’s been well-coached, but the main thing is; he works hard and is committed to getting stronger.”
Pitts also feels that Atwood is the kind of student and athlete that King University looks for in a future enrollee.
“Blake has a good chance to play this year if he continues to learn and get better as he goes along,” he said.
Johnson County Coach and Blake’s dad, Austin Atwood couldn’t be happier with his son’s choice. “I like Coach Pitts, he’s a great coach and will be good for Blake.”
The JCHS coach has a lot of admiration for his All-Conference son as well, “Blake can score from all three levels, rebounds extremely well, and can defend; he’s just a tough, gritty, hard-nosed player that simply knows how to play; I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Blake averaged 27 points, seven rebounds, four assists per game and was around 92 percent at the free-throw line. He also dominated the weekly ranks among Northeast Tennessee Players in basketball and demonstrated there are talented athletes east of Knoxville.
The gifted player could have had his choices of
colleges, but his decision to play for a local university
will allow the Johnson
County community to watch him fulfill his lifelong
dream of playing college basketball.

All-Stars season ends with loss to Johnson City

The Johnson County 10-12-year-old Baseball All-Stars pose for photo during last weeks tournament play.
Photo by Joey Icenhour

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

The 10-12-year-old All-Star boys started tournament action on Monday, July 1 against Jonesborough in Bristol.
The boys lost 9-1 against their counterparts, but Coach Billy Stout did not hesitate to give commendation where it was due when he highlighted Chris Reece’s hard work of pitching a good game.
“The team just had too many errors and could not get any momentum going against Jonesborough,” Recce said.
The boys played the following day against Blountville.
Stout was very pleased with his all-stars and said, “We did not have any errors. The boys played like an all-star team. I was really proud of them.” According to Stout, the team hit the ball well, and “Derek Baird did a good job pitching for that night.”
Unfortunately, on Wednesday, July 3, Johnson County struggled against Johnson City. The game was called for a rain delay, so it had to be finished the following day, which did not help the team.
Stout mentioned that Johnson County all-stars did not have enough good pitchers after Eli Dickens was forced to stop due to exceeding the ånumber of pitches he could throw in a tournament game without the mandatory rest period.
The team seemed to have run out of pitchers to take his place, resulting in Johnson City’s 15-1 win.
In the end, however, Stout was very complimentary of his team when he said that it was an honor to coach the boys. “They are a great bunch of kids. I’m very proud of them. I want to thank all the pitchers including, Nate Dorman, John Jennings, Grayson Holt, Derek Baird, Nathanael Walker, Chris Recee, and Eli Dickens for the great job they did this year.”
Stout also mentioned that this was the first time since the nineties that this age group has won a tournament game, “They will do great things next year,” he said.

JCHS athletic field poised for football season

Johnson County Longhorns fans give their best helping their team to earn a Homecoming game victory against West Green inside packed out Paul McEwen Stadium. Tomahawk file photo

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

After several weeks of hard work, a lot of rain, and many late nights, the JCHS football field is finally completed. Coach Don Kerley is proud of how it looks and is very grateful to so many who helped contribute to the field renovations.
The Longhorn coach states everything is done but putting up the goal posts. The players, however, won’t be on the newly constructed field until early August, but in the meantime, the Longhorns will be busy with camps, weightlifting and summer practices.
“We will be going to UVA Wise for a seven-on-seven camp, and then we head to Hampton for a two-day lineman camp. Regular practice begins July 22.”
Kerley added that the program must get these boys ready, and said, “These are good camps. The players will learn a lot and will be warmed up and set to go when regular practice starts.”
Funding for the football field did not come from the school’s budget; it was all done through gate sales, the Touchdown Club, monetary donations and the sale of banners.
The Touchdown Club is an excellent resource for anyone interested in keeping up with Longhorn football.
According to officials, the club has a Facebook page where information is available about meeting times, football schedules, and other necessary information.
Banners are still on sale and can be purchased by contacting Kerley at 423-444-9724.

2019 Little League Roundup; End of Season Results

Watauga Electric. First place season and tournament winner. Photo Submitted

JCLL 10 and 11 All Star Team. Photo Submitted

The Johnson County Little League regular season play has ended, and many all-star teams have been eliminated.
Of course, that is by no means the last inning for the year as the 10-12 All-Stars have launched some exciting baseball action on July 1 in Bristol.

Highlights of the regular season are as follows:

Eastridge Construction Dodgers-First Place
H&R Block Athletics-Second Place
10,11, 12 All-Stars were eliminated in district tournament play

Coach Pitch/Minor League
Rafter H Construction Pirates-First Place
Mullins Real Estate Diamondbacks-Second Place

Major League
Watauga Electric Diamondbacks-First Place
Danny Herman Trucking White Sox-Second Place

All-Stars Toury Results
Minor League/Coach Pitch finished runner-up in zone tournament but was eliminated in district tournament-4th place
The 8, 9, 10 All-Stars were eliminated in zone tournament, while the 9,10, 11 All-Stars made it to the district tournament but was soon eliminated.
Coach Charlie Jennings was proud of his all-stars stating they fought hard from the regular to tournament play.
“The team represented Johnson County well, the last game was a true nail biter, but lost it in the sixth inning, 8-7,” Jennings said.
Coach Jennings is grateful to Mike’s BBQ, KFC, Butler Trading Post, Farmers BBQ, Monsoons Thai and exotic food and Pleasants Store for being this year’s sponsors.
The 10,11, 12 All-Stars play began all-star action in Bristol on Monday.

36th Annual Appalachia Railroad Days 5K Road Race set for next month

Staff Report

All area runners and walkers are now encouraged to get in shape and participate in the annual Appalachia Railroad Days 5K Road Race.
The fast-paced, flat-course event is scheduled for Saturday, August 3, in Appalachia, VA.
The race is an SFTC King & Queen sanctioned race. High school and middle school cross country and track teams are especially invited to participate.
The race/walk also features a 3-Mile Power Walk for serious walkers who have yet to transition to running.
The walks and races will start at the Appalachia Fire Hall in downtown Appalachia. The course is rated flat with only a few moderate hills and traverses several residential neighborhoods, downtown streets and a scenic stretch of Callahan Avenue to and from Andover.
The 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk begins at 8 a.m. The 5K Road Race starts at 8:15 a.m., and the 3-Mile Power Walk follows at approximately 8:20 a.m. Top female and top male finishers each receive an award in the walking events. Each finisher will receive a ribbon.
Awards will be presented to the female and male Top Overall, Top Masters, Top Grand Masters and to the top three finishers age groups: 0-9,10-14,15-19,20-24,25-29,30-34,35-39,40-44,45-49,50-54,55-59,60-64,65-69,70-74, and 75 and over.
Pre-registration fees are $14 for the 5K race and $10 each for the 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk and 3-Mile Power Walk. Entry fees on the day of the events are $15 and $11 respectively. All pre-registrants will be guaranteed a commemorative t-shirt. Five registration fees will be refunded as Door Prizes.
To pre-register, send entry form and fee to Appalachia Railroad Days 5K Road Race, P.O. Box 302, Appalachia, VA 24216. Make checks payable to Appalachia Railroad Days 5K Road Race.
The registration form may be obtained by visiting www.runtricities.net. Pre-registrations are due no later than July 31. Participants may also register online at www.athlinks.com/event/36th-annual-appalachia-railroad-days-5k-29714.
Headphones and strollers are permitted on the course.
Contact Randy Blair at (276) 393-9577 or assistant race directors Pam Hutchinson at (276) 565-0821 and Kimberly Teglas at (276) 393-6163.

Brooks finds success as a first-year coach

Brittney Brooks and the Lady Dodgers celebrate their first place win for the regular season for ages 9,10, 11 group division. Photo Submitted

Brittney Brooks was a versatile player in high school. She played volleyball, basketball, and softball throughout her high school career, but after a year out of high school, Brooks found her new role as a coach just as rewarding.
The new coach doesn’t shy away from sharing that she was very nervous in her new role as team manager, but found the opportunity very rewarding.
“I am majoring in Elementary Education, so I think that coaching little league is a good experience for me,” she said.
Brooks felt having a good group of girls along with supportive team parents also contributed to the success of the team. The Lady Dodgers had six girls who had never played softball before but loved the sport and worked hard to improve in each game. The other teammates who
had more experience and became positive leaders for the rookie players.
The girls became a close team from the very beginning, which contributed to the success of the Lady Dodgers. Brooks’ team won first place in the regular season.
Brooks along with assistant coaches, Brett Epperly, and Craig McElyea led the all-stars to Gray for tournament play.
Brooks felt the team had a good field game in the first game against Unicoi, but struggled with batting, “we were swinging way too early and could not generate enough offense.”
The second game was a “mercy rule” against Bristol. Brooks felt her team played both a great offensive and defensive game, so Bristol was only able to get two runs against the all-stars.
Johnson County found themselves playing against Unicoi in the last game.
The first-year coach felt her team could have
beaten Unicoi, but just played slow and some players were
playing new positions, “so it hurt us” Brooks adds.
The overall experience for the softball coach was positive and a great learning experience. Brooks is looking forward to doing it all over again next year.
“Coaching is in my blood; my parents coached for years and helped me a lot this year.”

Breakfast fundraiser sends volleyball team to camp

The girls’ volleyball team is resting after serving over 200 people for their breakfast fundraiser Saturday at the Crewette building. Pictured: Emily Garr, Sydney Souder, Taylor Cox, Cassidy Lakotos, Rhiannon Icenhour, and Izzy Furches

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

JCHS volleyball team had to do something last Saturday morning that they may not have done in a while, get up early.
Several members of the Lady Longhorn volleyball team served up breakfast at the Crewette building to help raise money for volleyball camp.
A sizable number of parents, teachers, fans, and area residents came out and supported the team by making donations to help the Lady Longhorns reach their goal.
At final count, the fundraising effort proved successful, but the coaches would like to have a couple of more of such events held to help with the overall cost of camp. The money will also be used to help buy new equipment and uniforms for the team.
The volleyball camp is now scheduled for Friday, July 12 through Sunday, July 14 at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
The camp is said to be important to the girls as they can work closely with college students to improve their volleyball techniques, as well as learn to work together as a team.
“It is great preparation as they begin the new volleyball season,” said coach Michele Cooke.
Many of the players from last year will be returning. Cooke and assistant coach Sarah Jennings are excited about the upcoming season.
“As long as we can stay positive and play together, we will be successful,” Cooke said.
Cooke is returning to volleyball after being away for several years. Jennings was the assistant volleyball coach three years ago and is now returning as the assistant to Cooke. She is also the JCMS basketball coach.