The high school playoffs are only a month away, and teams are right now trying to establish their seed. That includes Johnson County with remaining District games against North Greene and Unicoi County. The Longhorns are in, and that is good news. The not so good news is they’ll likely be paired up at Austin East or home against Gatlinburg unless the Longhorns can get a little help. Chuckey-Doak is currently the top team at 3-0 in league play and 4-4 overall. The Black Knights final two games are on the road against Claiborne County and West Greene. They would earn the top spot if they win out, but a loss in their final game could throw the playoff race into a frenzy. Unicoi County, Johnson County, and West Greene all have District records of 2-1. The Blue Devils are 4-3 overall and will host West Greene on Friday. They’ll play Volunteer in a non-conference game in week nine before ending the season against Johnson County inside of Paul McEwen Stadium on November 1. They are several different scenarios that could play out, but for the three teams mentioned but for Johnson County, it’s a simple one. You must defeat North Greene and Unicoi County if you want to host a home playoff game for the third consecutive year. Next Friday’s game at home against Cloudland will also be huge. The Longhorns must win the remainder of their games to finish with an overall winning record at 6-4. That could play a factor if West Greene defeats Unicoi County on Friday, and here is why. If West Greene defeats the Blue Devils on Friday and win out, including a win over Chuckey-Doak in their season finale, they would finish with a 5-1 league record and 6-4 overall. In that event, Chuckey-Doak would finish 5-1 in league play and 5-5 overall. So what about Johnson County? The Longhorns would finish 5-1 in league play and 6-4 overall if they can win their final three games. They would end no worse than second if this occurs. If Doak losses to West Greene, the head-to-head could then play a factor, and Johnson County and West Greene would have the two best overall records. Johnson County would get the top seed based on its 22-21 win over West Greene earlier in the year. C-D would be the three seed based on their overall record, and Unicoi County would go as the four seed. Should the Longhorns lose to Unicoi County in the season finale, they would be playing on the road at either Alcoa or Austin East? Here is some food to digest. Alcoa is still Alcoa. They are the best team in the state in Class 3A. Austin East defeated Gatlinburg-Pittman 32-17, and now comes the bad news. G-P opened the season with a 46-6 win over Hampton, the same Bulldog team that crushed the Longhorns 44-8. These are your top three teams in District 2 3A. Did I mention that Kingston, the fourth-place team is currently 5-2? The playoffs are just around the corner, but there is plenty of football remaining to be played before those games begin. The playoffs could be an early exit for all the District 1 3A teams. Only the top dog will likely have a remote chance to advance.
JCMS’ Chase Muncy (23) takes a handoff from (8) Ethan Simcox. Muncy ran for 153 yards and a TD, but the Longhorns lost 32-16. Photo by by Tameula Trivett
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
Johnson County was hoping to slay the giant, but a two-minute span in the second quarter spoiled their chance. Hampton overcame an 8-6 second-quarter deficit to earn a hard-fought 32-16 win in the Tri-County Middle School Championship game played at J.C. Campbell Stadium on Tuesday. It was a big turnaround from two weeks again when the two teams met. The Bulldogs pounded out a 44-6 win, but Johnson County came out fired up. Head coach Devin Shaw touched on the excellent start. “Our kids have worked hard, and they wanted to show they had gotten better,” said Shaw. “We played our last two games in Avery County, who was undefeated and a very good Hampton team. We hung in there but made a couple of mistakes in the second quarter that took us out of the ball game. All of these kids have worked hard and will be good high school players. They got better as the season progressed. The Longhorns opened the game with a 35-yard kickoff return by Ethan Simcox to the 38. Chase Muncy took over from there rushing for 35 yards on six carries. Ethan Simcox would score from the 3-yard line putting the Horns on top 8-0 after Muncy’s two-point conversion with 2:33 remaining in the first quarter. Hampton scored on the very next play when Dominic Burleson returned the ensuing kickoff 72 yards for a TD. The conversion attempt failed to allow the Horns to remain in front 8-6. Muncy kept churning out the yards for the Longhorns, but a couple of costly penalties would stall a beautiful drive early in the second quarter. Hampton was able to finally take the lead led by the strong running of Burleson, who reeled off runs of 22 and 17 to put them inside the 30. Dylan Trivett’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Mckinney put Hampton in front to stay 14-8 after Burleson’s 2-point conversion with 3:19 remaining in the half. The backbreaking came with 08 seconds to go in the half. Trivett’s 34-yard TD pass to Chance Point increased their halftime lead at 20-8 in favor of the Dogs. Hampton turned to Burleson to put the game away, and he did with touchdown runs of 21 and 84 yards in the second half. Johnson County’s only score in the second half came on a 5-yard run by Muncy. The big play on the drive was a 51-yard pass reception by Chad Morefield from Connor Simcox. Ethan Sjmcox threw to Connor Simcox for the 2-point conversion.
Stat Leaders Hampton got standout performances by their two eighth grade horses. Burleson finished with 185 yards rushing and 305 all-purpose yards. Trivett ran for 101 yards and threw for 100. Muncy had a colossal night rushing for 153 yards from Muncy, Hank Sauer, Evan Dollar, and Isaiah Fenner that topped tho lead the Longhorns. Connor Simcox finished with 70 yards rushing and threw for 75 more in limited play at the quarterback slot. Morefield caught two passes for 70 yards, and Jace Stout added 30 yards on the ground. The Longhorns got five tackles each e defense. Daniel Stout and Nate Dorman were standouts on the offensive line for the Longhorns. The Longhorns finished the season with conference wins over Happy Valley, Cloudland, and Unaka.
JC’s Carter Atwood ran for 60 yards and threw for 50 more in their 32-8 win over Clintwood. He also scored a TD. Photo by Elle Hensley
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
Coach Austin Atwood’s junior varsity 9-10-year-old football team kept their playoff hopes alive with a big win over the Clintwood Woolpack on Saturday inside of Paul McEwen Stadium. The Longhorns set the tone by scoring on the first play to earn an impressive 32-8 victory. Hunter Paisley set the tone for the game by scoring a 60-yard touchdown on the first play of the game. He ended the day with a mammoth performance of three touchdowns, 100 yards rushing, and 40 more receiving. He got help from quarterback Carter Atwood who accounted for one rushing touchdown and one passing of 50 yards. Atwood ran for 60 yards on the ground. Kyle Maple had a rushing TD and racked up 40 yards rushing. The (4-2) Longhorns amassed 200 yards on the ground for the day. Atwood’s troops got a couple of 2-point conversion catches from Aaron Ferguson. Colton Grindstaff had a 2-point conversion catch, and Maple run for one. Atwood totaled eight tackles to lead the defense. Paisley added six tackles while Ferguson, Jamie Jones, and Maple all contributed five. Eli Tester rang up three big hits while Connor Stout and Brock Jones got one apiece. It was the first loss of the season for Clintwood now 4-1. The win put the Longhorns in the thick of a playoff berth that is awarded to the top four teams. They travel to Abingdon on Saturday to play the Washington County Trojans.
Freshman Division (7-8-year-old) Clintwood 32 Johnson County 8 The undersized and overmatched Longhorns fell to a superior Clintwood squad 32-8 on Saturday on Harold Arnold Field. Hunter McElyea and Colton Russell accounted for 50 yards rushing apiece, and Cayden Huskins ran for 40 yards to lead the Longhorns’ offense. Jacob Bentley had a nice 30-yard run. McElyea led the defense with seven tackles and two sacks. Russell provided six tackles and a sack. Trevor McCloud finished with four tackles with Huskins and Gianni Guizzotti racking up two apiece along with Aaron Madrey and Kingston Mills. The team is now 1-5 on the year and will play at Abingdon on Saturday against the Washington County Trojans.
Varsity Division (11-12-year-old) Clintwood 40 Johnson County 0 The Longhorns tried hard to battle through some injuries suffered but didn’t have the firepower to stay with Clintwood. Juan Mejia led the rushing attack with 60 yards for Johnson County while Josh Potter collected 30 yards rushing in his first start at quarterback. Jack Csillag provided 10 yards. Mejia had eight tackles to lead the defense. Csillag and Andrew Long finished with six apiece. Landon Lipford and Potter logged three each. Christopher Wilson and Connor Gentry added two stops each. The Horns are now 1-5 on the season and will play in Abingdon on Saturday versus the Washington County Trojans. NOTE: The 5-6-year-old game was rescheduled for October 22.
The Longhorns 2019 volleyball season came to an end Monday night with a loss to Sullivan Central at the conference tournament. File photo by Tamas Mondovics
By Beth Cox Sports Writer
The district conference tournament started Monday night at Sullivan Central High School. After being easily defeated by the Lady Cougars, the Lady Longhorns walked to the net to congratulate their opponents on their win and advancement in the District 1-AA tournament. With heartbreak, regret, and sorrow, the Lady Longhorns ended the season left only with ideas of what could have been. The Lady Horns knew they would have to play some good volleyball if they wanted to defeat the district’s number two team. Unfortunately, Johnson County struggled from the very beginning and lost momentum with each game. The first game of the match, the Lady Horns lost 25-14. The second set, Johnson County and Central were neck and neck with the score tied at one point, 7-7, but Central’s junior Meredith Mumpower served up several hard and strategic serves that led to a significant lead for the Lady Cougars. Johnson County appeared to be sleeping at the net, so defense was left to the backcourt. Rhiannon Icenhour would take the punch for the back row with twelve digs against Central. Hannah Brooks and Taylor Cox also contributed with seven and six digs, respectively. To their credit, Emily Garr and Sydney Souder have been phenomenal at the net defensively, but they could not get those needed blocks against Central. The Lady Horns seemed to struggle with their offensive game as well. With Cox getting four assists followed by Cassidy Lakatos with three assists, Garr was the only player to get a hit past the Lady Cougars. The service line for Johnson County showed many errors with only two aces for the evening, one by Emily Garr and one by Abby Cornett. Johnson County knew they were going into district tournament action as the underdog and would have to fight for every point, but it appeared the desire was not there. After the second set, the Lady Longhorns played like a team that had already been defeated and, it showed, as the third set ended with a 5-25 loss. Senior Abby Cornett felt the frustration throughout the match, “we just didn’t play as a team. Central was trying to give us the game, but we could never capitalize on that because we weren’t mentally focused or ready to play or even win.” Taylor Cox expressed her feelings about how her volleyball journey ended, “we could have played better. We just didn’t play as a team, and it’s sad to me because it ends my high school career with some of my closest friends.” She added, “I’m going to miss playing. We had a lot of fun and had some great coaches.”
Johnson County will travel to Baileyton on Friday night as a heavy favorite to knock off North Greene. The Huskies enter the game with a 2-6 record with wins over Unaka 32-20 and Jellico 20-14. The “pack-dogs” have lost lopsided games to three of Johnson County’s common opponents so far. Unicoi County handed them a 65-6 defeat, Chuckey-Doak 53-18, and West Greene 49-0 all prevailed. North Greene has allowed 313 points in their six losses and is averaging giving up 46 points per contest on defense. Hopefully, that’s good news for the Longhorns’ offense that has scored 100 points in seven games and is averaging a mere 14 points per game. Johnson County’s 3-4 record includes a pair of one-point wins over Sullivan East 14-13 in the season opener and West Greene 22-21. Both of those came with senior standout Jared Kimble in uniform. Kimble is now lost for the season, so trying to fill his void has been difficult. He was perfect on his point-after kicks, and that has been a problem for the Longhorns. He also was their big-play threat on offense, although Curtis Lowe has emerged as the workhouse over the past two games. Lowe rushed for a career high 106 yards in their 33-6 win over Claiborne County two weeks ago and followed that up with a 150 yards performance at Happy Valley on Friday. But it’s been Johnson County’s inability to get the ball into the end zone that has prevented them from racking six wins on the year. The 14-10 loss at Chuckey-Doak has been the most costly defeat so far. They appeared headed for the game-winning touchdown but fumbled the ball inside the 20-yard line late in the game. They reached the red zone a total of eight times combined in a 12-7 loss to Sullivan North and Friday’s 13-7 defeat at Happy Valley but came away with no points. Head coach Don Kerley agreed it had been an up and down year so far but hopes his team can find a way to win their last three games and enter into the playoffs with a 6-4 winning record. They will begin that journey at North Greene. It’s a team they know very little about. “We definitely need to win as many games as we can,” said Kerley. “We can’t feel sorry for them because every game is big for us, and we have to win out. We’ve seen them play a little bit online, but they didn’t trade films with us, so we’ll be trying to fix a lot of things that we need to both on offense and defense. We can’t take anything or anyone for granted.” The Longhorns will host their final two regular-season games at home, starting with Cloudland next Friday. Their showdown with Unicoi County will take place on November 1. Kickoff for the North Greene game is at 7:30 pm. NOTE: The school is located off Exit 36 toward Knoxville on Interstate 40.
Johnson County’s Nate Rice (20) returns a kickoff for 22 yards vs. Happy Valley. Rice had five tackles on defense in the Longhorns 13-6 loss to the Warriors. Photos by Joey Icenhour
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
Sometimes the team that dominates time of possession doesn’t always win the football game. Johnson County proved that on Friday. The Longhorns were turned away four times after getting inside Happy Valley’s red zone and lost a heartbreaking 13-6 contest on homecoming night on top of Warrior Hill. It was an evening full of frustration for the Longhorns’ offense as their inability to put points on the board would come back to haunt them. The boys drove down to the 13-yard line on their opening drive of the game but threw an interception to end that scoring threat. The Horns got down inside the 20 twice in the second half and another two times inside the 30 but came up empty-handed on each occasion. Head coach Don Kerley agreed that it was a matter of them making just a few more plays than they did. “We left too many points on the field and made too many mistakes in crucial situations,” said Kerley. “All of the teams we’ve played are pretty well even, but we aren’t winning our share of close games. We won a bunch of these back in 2017, but Happy Valley’s got a good football team and an excellent secondary. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up over the next couple of weeks. We need to win our remaining three games.” The Longhorns will be favored in their next two games at North Greene and at home against Cloudland, which would set the stage for their season finale at home against Unicoi County with a home playoff game at stake. Friday’s game was an indication that they must improve in all phases of the game to finish with a winning record. Happy Valley’s taffy-like defense got stretched to the max, but it never fell apart, and their offense did just enough to score a baker’s dozen. It all started on their first possession of the game as they marched 62 yards in just five plays to grab an early lead. Jordan Campbell bulled his way in from the two, and Cameron Cochran added the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 9:51 remaining in the first quarter. A 38-yard pass reception by Will Tittle from Eli Ayers was the key play of the drive. Johnson County scored its lone touchdown of the game with 6:20 remaining in the second quarter. Curtis Lowe’s 6-yard touchdown run capped off a 67-yard drive that took nine plays. They trailed 7-6 after the PAT when wide right. A short kickoff gave the Warriors excellent field position at the own 44 after the score, and they wasted no time going on their second scoring march. Matthew Bahn ripped off runs of 17 and 11 yards that led to his 4-yard TD run with 4:42 remaining in the half. The PAT was no good leaving the scoring at 13-6. The second half would be played with each team putting up goose eggs on the scoreboard, although the Longhorns got close to scoring. They had the ball at the 19-yard line in the third quarter but failed to score. Their best chance came late in the fourth quarter when they had it first and ten at the 12. A costly fumble on first down resulted in a 9-yard loss after they elected to try and run wide. They couldn’t overcome the costly mistake and turned the ball over on downs at the 16-yard line with 4:34 remaining in the game. The Warriors picked up a key first down on the final possession that allowed them to run out the clock and preserve the win.
JC’s Curtis Lowe (1) scores the Horns only TD. Lowe rushed for 150 yards in the loss to Happy Valley.
For the second week in a row, the Longhorns’ got a mammoth game from Lowe who rushed for 150 yards on 20 carries. He had 106 yards at the half. Happy Valley had a balanced rushing attack led by Bahn’s 98 yards on 14 carries. Campbell added 88 on 19 attempts. Ayers threw for 78 yards and ran for 28 more. Colt Moody topped the Longhorns’ defense with ten tackles and an interception. Nathan Mink, Jia Webster, Corie Neely, Rice, and Ethan Icenhour logged five apiece. The Warriors ended the night with 145 yards rushing and 75 passing. Johnson County could muster only 22 yards in the air on 2-of-11 passing. They dominated the ground game by rushing for 210 yards. Johnson County now 3-4 will play at North Greene in another non-league matchup on Friday. Happy Valley (6-1) will travel to Sullivan North.
Natalie Winters is crowned Homecoming Queen Friday night at JCHS. Photo by Beth Cox
Emmy Miller, daughter of Bronson Miller and Erin Miller, being crowned homecoming princess. Emmy’s escort for the evening was Ethan Bower, son of Jeanie Bower and the late Tom Bower. Photo by Tameula Trivett
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
Harold Arnold Field had a lot of good Longhorn athletes running around on it during the football game on Friday but none more athletic than the dynamic duo that made up part of their homecoming court. Natalie Winters and Emmy Miller were decked out in “crowns and gowns,” and they too were victorious like the Horns were over Claiborne County. The two young ladies were all smiles during the halftime show as each walked away with a prestigious honor. Winters was crowned the 2019 homecoming queen, and Miller was selected as the junior class princess. It was only fitting for both of them to walk away with those honors because they, too, are fixtures when it comes to Lady Longhorns’ athletics. Winters and Miller both stars on the basketball team, and each of them were starters last season. They are also outstanding softball players and appear to have the talent to play at the next level when their athletic careers are over. But now both of them have mastered another sport with a chance for a scholarship at the next level. They chose to show their school spirit by trying out and making the varsity cheerleading squad. It’s a huge accomplishment for both girls. They cheer during all the football games, and they’re hoping to be on the sidelines during the boys’ basketball games. They are currently awaiting approval to do that but are excited about doing it if they are approved. They will be looking to end decades of frustration in girls’ basketball by earning a spot in this year’s regional basketball tournament. They would love to put their cheering uniform afterward. They do all this and still manage to maintain one of the highest overall grade point averages in their class. Winters said they wouldn’t have it any other way. “I don’t know what I would do if I weren’t overwhelmed with sports,” said Winters. “It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed doing. I love the fact of being selected as homecoming queen because I’ve had a lot of support from my family and friends all week long. It meant a lot knowing that the student body at school would vote for me.” The same could be said for Miller. She was elated to represent the junior class as their princess. She touched on how she and Winters got into the cheerleading field. “Natalie and I were sitting there one day talking and wanted to do something new. We thought cheerleading would be super fun and we both have fallen in love with it. I enjoy it probably more than anything. I love my teammates and coaches, but it’s that way in all the sports that I participate in. Cheering is something that is new to me.” Miller said that being a three-sport athlete wasn’t easy sometimes, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s hard but fun, and we’ve been doing this since we were small kids,” said Miller. “It takes a certain type of motivation to do it, especially if you have your hard classes during that time. You have to work hard and get everything situated.” Natalie and I just took out volleyball this year and added cheerleading. It’s been good for both of us.” Winters agreed with Miller about how cheerleading had been one of the best things that they have ever done. She describes her love for it. “Cheering gives me a positive outlook on everything and helps me clear my mind,” added Winters. “Coach Walters is such a good mentor and great womanly figure to have in my life because she’s so passionate about her faith in God. That makes a big difference to me. She brings with it a lot of positivity. I’m blessed to have some great coaches.” Michelle Walters, her cheerleading coach, knows that she too has been blessed with the addition of Winters and Miller. She touched on what it meant to her program to have them there. “I worried at first because I didn’t know how their other coaches would feel, but it’s all good,” said Walters. “I saw how much they wanted to cheer, and it got me so excited. You could never tell this was their first year of cheering. They fit in good with the girls, and that’s important because we spend a lot of time with each other. From the beginning, they were leaders, and it’s easy to see why they are so good at basketball and softball. Both of them have the athleticism to do well at this sport. We love having them on the team.” Walters went on to say. “If Natalie wants to cheer in college she’ll have a college scholarship cheering. She just that good, and she is a super tumbler. I can see Emmy being able to do that after her senior year. You would never know it was their first year of cheering. Both of them are excellent leaders.” The pair also star on the softball diamond. Both of them hit over .400 last season that earned them high praise from softball head coach Greg Reece. “Natalie has been an outstanding player for JCHS Softball. She is an excellent first baseman, but last year she stepped in to catch several games when our starter (Emmy) was out. She was one of our very best hitters batting in the second spot and was an Honorable mention All-Conference. She always has a positive, coachable, and team-oriented attitude.” Reece went on to say about Miller. “Emmy may be the best catcher to come through the program in the last ten years, but that may not be her best position. She is an outstanding outfielder and one of the best base runners I have ever coached with her aggressiveness and an on-field nasty streak. We love having both of them.” Girls’ basketball head coach Leon Tolley gave a classic quote when describing his starting point guard and power forward. “Natalie and Emmy are very well rounded,” said Tolley. “They play multiple sports and give their all in each of them. They also lead by example and still have time to put on a pretty dress and look all lady-like. I’m glad they are on my team for sure. They are beauties in the hall and beasts on the basketball court.” They are also this year’s 2019 homecoming queen and junior princess.
It was a mixed squad that entertained a large crowd that came out to support the Longhorns football team on its homecoming night game victory and festivities. Photos by Tamas Mondovics
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
Claiborne County’s three-hour bus ride from Tazewell to Mountain City must have seemed like an eternity going back home on Friday night after being dealt a 33-6 defeat by Johnson County. The Longhorns assured themselves another playoff berth with the victory and still remain in the hunt to host a first-round playoff game. A large mass of fans gathered on the home side of the field to cheer on the Horns, including the 1978 Longhorns, who were honored before the game for winning the Watauga Conference Championship. Natalie Winters was crowned the 2019 homecoming queen.
Lowe enjoys his best game as a Longhorn The Longhorns turned to fullback Curtis Lowe to try and pick up the slack for senior running back Jared Kimble, who was lost for the season two weeks ago at West Greene, and he didn’t disappoint. Lowe carried the ball 21 times for 106 yards and scored four touchdowns, his best game as a Longhorn. “I thought Curtis had a huge game running the football,” said Johnson County’s head coach Don Kerley. “I felt like all our kids came out ready to play, especially the defense. They were averaging 34 points per game, and we didn’t give them anything. Michael Oxentine, Jia Webster, and Colt Moody played well on defense, and I thought Lucas Phillips had two big catches. This was a really good win for us, and I’m proud of the kids for the way they bounced back after last week’s loss.” Kerley was correct in his assessment of Lowe. He set the tone for the game by rushing for 60 yards on Johnson County’s first scoring drive that including a 9-yard touchdown run with 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter to give the Horns an 8-0 advantage. Johnson County scored first when Jia Webster tackled Claiborne County’s quarterback Eli Stone in the end zone for a safety with some help from Danny Medley. This came after the Horns had a first and goal on the 2 yards line but turned it over on their first drive. Stacy Greer threw a perfect 37-yard pass to Lucas Phillips, who got knocked out of bounds at the nine. They had the ball on the 2-yard line but elected to go from the shotgun and were thrown for a loss on a running play, then were intercepted two plays later, allowing the Bulldogs to dodge a bullet.
Longhorns senior fullback, Curtis Lowe, cuts through the Claiborne County D-line for a 9-yard TD run in the first quarter Friday night. Lowe had one of the best games of the season in his team’s 33-6 win.
Longhorns capitalize on Bulldog’s mistakes Johnson County shot themselves in the foot twice in the first half, but Claiborne County would somehow find a way to return the favor with a turnover of their own. Greer hit Corie Neely with a nice 15-yard pass down to the 4-yard line, but a bad snap on the next play ended that scoring threat. Claiborne would drive the ball near midfield but would fumble and Johnson County’s Colt Moody was there to recover. He said the defense wanted redemption after the Hampton loss. “We took it as a challenge anytime they got the football,” said Moody. “We wanted a shutout and came close to getting it, but I feel good about the way we played. We’ve been staying together and working as a team. Tonight we were able to create some turnovers that our offense turned into scores. This was a good win.” The game played back and forth in the second quarter, but mistakes would continue to plague the Bulldogs. They had one touchdown called back due to a penalty and was sacked twice for large losses. The Longhorns finally managed to score their second touchdown of the game with 1:19 remaining in the half. Lowe bulled his way into the end zone from the 3-yard line, and Nate Rice added the PAT for a 15-0 half time lead.
Bulldogs can’t get unleashed Johnson County’s defense kept applying the pressure on the Bulldogs who came into the game averaging 34 points per contest. The play of Webster, Rice, Moody, and Michael Oxentine kept Stone on the move for most of the game. He was sacked twice during the third quarter and forced out of the pocket several other times. Then the offense finally awarded their defense. Lowe’s 3-yard touchdown run with 1:49 remaining in the third quarter capped off a 15-play, 58-yard drive that gave them a 21-0 cushion heading into the fourth quarter. And they continued to pour it on over the next seven minutes.
Stretch run Claiborne finally got on the board with 11;03 remaining in the game on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Stone to Hayden Hollin, but the Longhorns would bounce back to deliver the death blow. The speedy Phillips got behind the Bulldogs’ defense and hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass from Greer to up the ante at 27-7 at the 9:18 mark. Lowe scored the Horns final touchdown of the game on a 4 yard run with 5:07 remaining to make it 33-6. Reserves played out the final five minutes.
Longhorns senior running back Jisaiah Webster drags a pair of Claiborne County players to get the first down in the first quarter. Photos by Tamas Mondovics
Longhorn leaders It was Johnson County’s defense that led the way to victory. Webster finished with nine tackles and two sacks. Moody cashed in with eight tackles, a sack, and one fumble recovery. Rice provided eight tackles and a sack, while Neely had seven tackles and broke up two passes. Oxentine had a big night with five tackles, two sacks while applying constant pressure in the backfield. Medley, Ethan Icenhour, Logan Gilley, and Aiden Walker collected five tackles apiece. Lowe’s 4 TD’s and 106 yards rushing stood tall on offense. He touched on stepping up his game in a must-win situation. “We had to bounce back and get this one,” said Lowe, who also said the team had worked hard all week in practice. “We were able to fix a lot of things, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. We just have to keep playing better and win out. We want to host another first-round playoff game.’ Greer threw for 112 yards. Phillips had 2 catches for 72 yards and a score. Will Henson had a nice catch down the sidelines for 25 yards, and Neely had one for 15 in addition to running for 35 yards on only three carries. The Longhorns compiled 316 yards of total offense with 205 coming on the ground.
Longhorns quarterback, Stacy Greer, focuses on the snap in the second quarter against Claiborne County. Greer led the team to a 33-6 homecoming game victory.
Stone completed 5-of-12 passes for 51 yards and was held to 48 yards rushing after being sacked or tackled for losses seven times. Oxentine said the plan was to apply pressure from start to finish. “We saw on game film that he didn’t do as well under pressure,” said Oxentine. “We wanted to force him out of the pocket and make him throw on the run. We didn’t want to allow time to stand back there and throw.” Johnson County was flagged eight times for 50 yards. Claiborne amassed 12 penalties for 100 yards in the game. The Longhorns had two touchdowns called back because of penalties.
Next up The Longhorns (2-1, 3-3) will travel to Happy Valley on Friday to battle the Warriors in another non-conference rival game. Kickoff is set to for 7:30 pm.
Claiborne Co. 0 0 0 6 –6 Johnson Co. 8 7 6 12 –33
Scoring Summary 1st Quarter JC—Webster sacks Stone in end zone (8:31) JC—Lowe 9 run (Kick failed) .55 2nd Quarter JC—Lowe 6 run (Rice kick) 1:19 3rd Quarter JC—Lowe 3 run (kick failed) 1:49 4th Quarter CC—Holin 25 pass from Stone (kick failed) 11:92 JC—Lowe 4 run (kick failed) 5:07
Johnson County Statistics Rushing: Lowe 21-106, Neely 3-35, Greer 5-10, Webster 5-17, Mann 5-16, Oxentine 3-17, Brown 2-3. Total 44-204
Connor Simcox drags the Cloudland defense to set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Chase Muncy against Cloudland last week in Mountain City. Photo by Tamas Mondovics
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
The junior high Longhorns took a quick lead then held off a late Cloudland surge to win on Tuesday night inside of Paul McEwen Stadium. Their 14-6 victory over the Highlanders kept them in the hunt to reach the Little Watauga Championship football game. Johnson County wasted no time getting on the board by scoring quickly on their first possession. A pair of nifty runs of 17 and 11 yards by Connor Simcox set up an eight-yard touchdown run by Chase Muncy. He also ran in the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead with 09 seconds remaining in the quarter. It was their only possession in the period.
Longhorns Chad Morefield, (12) plows through the D-line and gets a first down after he intercepted a Cloudland pass and set up the Longhorns second TD. Photos by Tamas Mondovics
Their second touchdown came after Chad Morefield intercepted a Cloudland pass at the 40 and ran it back to Johnson County’s 25. Ethan Simcox scored on a 2-yard run to make it 14-0 with 4:17 left in the half.
Johnson County junior high Longhorns quarterback Ethan Simcox, (8) scores on a 2-yard touchdown against Cloudland last week inside Paul McEwen Stadium.
The Highlanders could have put the game away in the third quarter but failed to score after moving the football down to the 14-yard line. A pair of costly penalties nullified one score and a 15-yarder costly them a first down on a third and 13. That gave the Highlanders a new life, and they made it a close contest. Hayden Arnett’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Holtsclaw was their only score in the game, but the team battled its tail off the whole way. Johnson County got the ball back and ran out the clock to secure the win and run its season record at 4-2. Simcox rushed for 60 yards to lead the ground game, and Muncy added 50 for the Longhorns. Hank Sauer, Morefield, and Muncy had five tackles apiece to lead the defense. Nate Dorman, Isaiah Fenner, Simcox, and Daniel Stout collected three, respectively.
Hampton 28 Johnson County 8 The news wasn’t good for the Longhorns on Thursday. They fell to Hampton 28-8 inside of J.C. Campbell Stadium that eliminated them for a chance at making the playoffs. Chase Muncy scored their lone touchdown on a 3-yard run. Ethan Simcox threw to Connor Simcox for the 2-point conversion. Dylan Trivette threw two touchdown passes and ran for one to lead the Bulldogs. He ended the night with 110 yards passing and 102 yards rushing. Johnson County will play its final game of the season on Thursday at home against Avery County, NC. It will be eighth-grade night for the Longhorns. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
Dollywood’s best rollercoaster ride couldn’t have the ups and downs that Johnson County has experienced this football season. The Longhorns lost its top player Jared Kimble to a season-ending shoulder injury last Friday in a 22-21 win at West Greene and was faced with going on the road to Hampton with only four days to prepare. The team may have struggled to find its groove, and at the end, beaten soundly. But all is not lost with the defeat and here’s why. Johnson County can still earn the top spot in the District 3-A playoffs with a little help. But they need to take care of business on their end if they want to host another first-round playoff game. It starts on Friday when Claiborne County will make the three-hour journey to Mountain City to battle the Longhorns in a critical Mountain Six matchup. The Bulldogs are coming off a lopsided 65-13 loss at Unicoi County but don’t let the numbers fool you. The Blue Devils can put up points but were minus two of their dynamic playmakers against the Blue Devils. Quarterback Eli Stone leads the team and running back Greg Goins who had a 74-yard touchdown run versus the Blue Devils. Stone threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Haden Hollins for their other score, but they couldn’t shut down Unicoi County’s high powered offense. It’s been that way for most of the season, and the numbers will prove it. They have beaten Pigeon Forge 28-20 and Unaka 54-28 while losses have been to Union County 54-45, West Greene 31-28 and Unicoi County. Johnson County has been just the opposite. The defense played well over the first four games while the offense has sputtered at times. Their wins have come against Sullivan East 14-13 and West Greene 22-21. Losses have been to Sullivan North 12-7, Chuckey-Doak 14-10 and Hampton. The Longhorns will need a stingy defensive effort to slow down the Bulldogs. The offense must find a way to move the football as Hampton exposed several weaknesses. The Longhorns’ offensive line had trouble with Hampton’s defensive front, and their running backs could not get to the outside on the Bulldog defense ends. Corrie Neely had a couple of big plays in their win at West Greene but did not touch the football against Hampton. The Horns could take a page out of the old Tennessee football playbooks to try and get Neely and speedster Lucas Phillips the ball out in the open terrain. The Vols threw across the field to their speedy wideouts who showcased their talents out in the open field by making people miss. The team rushed for only 47 yards at Hampton including three in the first half. Most of their 95 yards of total offense came in the second half with the clock running continuously. The defense needs to play its best game of the seasons against a Bulldog team that has a scoring average of 33.6 points per game. Fans are urged to arrive early at the game to cheer on the Longhorns. Kickoff for homecoming night is set to take place at 7:30 p.m.
Abree Glenn getting the return at Providence Academy Saturday for the middle school district tournament playoffs. Photo by Beth Cox
By Beth Cox Sports Writer
The JCMS volleyball team traveled to Providence Academy Saturday for the middle school district tournament. Both the JV and varsity teams have done very well throughout the season. Coach Dottie Phipps is proud of how well her girls have improved since the beginning of the year and especially how well they performed in district playoffs. The JV team played in the single-elimination tournament early Saturday morning, and although they ended the season with a 5-3 record and placed second in the Blue Ridge Conference, the district tournament would not be their defining moment. The young team lost to Providence Academy in a tough fight; 21-25, 18-25. Phipps was proud of how her squad played, Providence is a tough team, but the Lady Horns played hard, it just was not enough in the end. The varsity team participated in the double-elimination district tournament, which proved to be advantageous for the girls. The first round of action the Lady Horns took on Tri-Cities Christian. The game came down to serves, Lydia Eastridge buckled down on her serves and helped control the game with ten consecutive service points in the second game of the match, which led the Lady Horns to continue to the next round. Johnson County took on Cedarview, a team that has been the nemesis for the girls. The district tournament, unfortunately, was no different. Cedarview is a tough team and was able to control the volleyball match. The Lady Horns had some outstanding moments; Lexi Proffitt had some great serves and strong at the net. Braden Eastridge had a great back row game, but in the end, Cedarview came out with the win, 6-25, 13-25. The moment that coaches live for came in the next match against KACHEA, who has won all season against the Lady Horns. The district tournament always has moments of excitement and surprise, which would be what happened with the two teams. The Lady Horns hooked KACHEA and easily won the match, 25-16, 25-11. The varsity team then faced off against the toughest team in the district, Providence Academy. Providence Academy beat the Lady Longhorns 12-25, 9-25 and eventually took top honors for the district tournament. The JCMS varsity volleyball team placed third overall with Lexi Proffitt and Braden Eastridge making the All-conference team. Phipps was proud of all the accomplishment of both her teams when she said, “We had a great season, and both teams were awesome to work with, both Amy and I are very proud of a job well done.”
JC’s Petie Pavusek shot a 102 in the regional to close out his golf career for the Longhorns. He was the team’s low medalist. Submitted photo
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
ELIZABETHTON—It has been a learning curve for Johnson County’s young golf team all season long, and Monday’s final match was no different. The Longhorns took part in the Region 1Small School golf tournament played at the Elizabethton Golf Club that lasted for six hours before ending. North Greene’s freshman Aidan Collins turned some eyes by shooting a 3-under par 69 to earn the low medalist score. That propelled his team to shoot an overall score of 321 followed by University High at 341 and Hampton a close third at 344. The Longhorns were well back in the pack at 454, but they battled their tails off the entire fall. The deck was stacked against them from the outset with virtually nowhere to practice, unlike in past years. What used to be Red Tail Golf Course is now down to only three holes, so the team had to travel nearly 45 minutes to get in nine holes or better at a golf course. The team was stacked with four freshmen playing with a pair of seniors, and several of the younger players are just now learning. Senior Petie Pavusek led the way shooting a 102. He had a 52 on the front nine and a 50 on the back nine. Freshman Dakota Holt was second with a 114, Jackson Mays closed out his senior campaign with a 118, and freshman Graham Reece recorded a 120. Another freshman Peyton Pavusek was at 126 but finished second on the team in last week’s District.
JC’s Jackson Mays played his last golf match on Monday at the regional tournament. He finished with a score of 118. Submitted photo
The boys have been optimistic all season long as I recalled what they said to me in a recent interview. “We’ve got three years to learn the game, and we’ll be up there playing well,” said Reece. “We’ve got four freshman golfers, and all of us are learning.” Peyton Pavusek knows that their day will come. “We’re in this thing for the long haul,” said Pavusek. “it’s icing on the cake getting to play as a freshman and learning the game. I think we’ll all do well at it.” It’s worth noting that senior Petie Pavusek was the team’s low medalist in almost every match and the scores might have been higher had the rules committee not changed horses in midstream. The teams were forced to tee off from the back, making the distance longer than where they played during the season and at District. The young Longhorns are to be commended for a very good season. You can expect some bigger and better things from them in the future.
Longhorns Curtis Lowe (1) runs for an 11-yard gain versus Hampton in Friday night’s game. Lowe carried 3 times for 35 yards but the Horns fell 44-8. Photo by Tameula Trivett
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
HAMPTON—A tight-fisted football game between Hampton and Johnson County got turned into a rout after the Bulldogs scored 37 unanswered points in the second quarter. Hampton’s impressive 44-8 win inside of J.C. Campbell Stadium came after the school honored the late Larry Shoun by naming their field house after him and then had a moment of silence for the late Randy Smith, Johnson County’s assistant football coach. It was a non-conference game for the two neighboring schools, yet bragging rights were on the line for the two communities. Hampton now leads the all-time series 38-32, but very few of those games were ever this lopsided. The blowout win never materialized until the 11:54 mark of the second quarter, and it lasted less than 12 minutes. It felt like an eternity for the Longhorns. Hampton’s Caleb McKinney recovered a fumble on the Longhorns’ 20-yard line that would unleash an avalanche of Johnson County mistakes. Macon Barden got the Dogs on the board with a 14-yard touchdown run followed by a two-point conversion jump pass from Caleb Oaks to Matt Hughes. Hampton led 8-0. It was Barden’s 49-yard run on Hampton’s next possession that set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Aiden Vines that made it 14-0 with 7:06 remaining in the half. It wasn’t a one-man show by the Bulldogs’ offense, which completely dominated the contest by holding the Longhorns’ to only 23 total yards of offense in the first half with only three of those coming on the ground. The Bulldogs continued to pour it on with Oaks being the recipient of a 23-yard TD pass from Connor Jones. His 2-point conversion made it 24-0, but their scoring spree was far from over. The Longhorns turned it over for a second time, and Dogs were more than willing to turn their miscue into points. Vines did the honors with a 21-yard TD run to make it 30-0 with 3:10 still remaining in the half. That would be time for one more Bulldogs’ score. Hayden Birchfield intercepted Stacy Greer’s pass deep in Johnson County territory, their third turnover in the quarter. Isaiah Greenwell’s 29-yard touchdown run closed out the first-half scoring, and the Bulldogs led 37-0 at the break. The game was delayed with 1:01 remaining in the first half because of lighting but resumed 40 minutes later. The Longhorns would hold their own in the second half. Johnson County got on the board with 10:28 remaining in the game on a 5-yard touchdown run by Samuel Mann. Curtis Lowe added the 2-point conversion to make it 37-8. Hampton’s only score in the second half came on a 4-yard touchdown pass by Connor Jones to Jonah Jones. Michael Harrison kicked his second extra point of the game to close out their scoring. It was total domination by the Bulldogs who rushed for 267 yards on 28 carries. They completed only 2-of-10 passes for 27 yards, but both completions were for touchdowns. Greenwell collected 80 yards rushing on only three carries which led Hampton’s ground attack. Barden ran for 70 yards on six attempts. Connor Jones was 2-of-6 passing with the two TD passes. Matt Hughes led the Bulldogs’ defense with six tackles and two sacks. Dylan Moffitt had a pair of sacks and four tackles. Hampton amassed six sacks as a team. The Longhorns could muster only 95 yards of total offense, 48 on the ground and 47 through the air. Curtis Lowe led the ground game with 34 yards on three carries, while Nate Rice caught three passes for 35 yards. Greer completed 5-of-11 passes. Rice also led the defense with nine tackles. Colt Moody provided eight tackles and a sack; Jia Webster chipped in with five. The Longhorns had only six first downs in the game. They played without their leading scorer Jared Kimble who is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Johnson County (2-3) will square off with Claiborne County on Friday in an all-important Mountain Six Conference game for both teams. It will be homecoming night for the Longhorns. Hampton will play at Sullivan North. Game time for the Longhorns’ homecoming contest is set for 7:30 pm.
West Greene goes for the tackle against the Longhorns. The Longhorns narrowly won against West Greene in Greeneville Friday night. Photos by Beth Cox
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
Mosheim—It would be hard to put Johnson County’s win over West Greene into words, but I’ll try. You could say the Longhorns made a pact to win one for their late assistant coach Randy Smith and they did so in dramatic fashion. Stacy Greer and Corie Neely sparked a fourth-quarter rally, and Nate Rice added some icing on the cake that left the Buffaloes fans shaking their heads after the Longhorns walked away with a 22-21 victory. JCHS’ head coach Don Kerley was happy that his team was able to stay in the game despite some mistakes. He said it was a hard game for his coaches to coach and the kids didn’t know at the end how they should react after the win. “We’ve been down all week plus we lost some key players in the game with injuries, so that made it tough,” said Kerley. “We didn’t line up right at times, but our kids played hard all night long, and I’m proud of them for that. It was hard on our coaches because we made some mistakes, and at the end, our kids didn’t know if they should celebrate or not. We could have played a little better, but we pulled it out under some difficult circumstances. Coach Randy Smith was heavy on our hearts. Emotionally that was a big win for us.”
The game-winning drive The Longhorns trailed 21-14 with 8:51 remaining in the game when they begin their 11 play, 68-yard drive that would be the game-winner. What made matters difficult was their senior standout Jared Kimble had to leave the game with a shoulder separation, and another senior standout Curtis Lowe was on the sidelines too with an injury. But Greer and Neely would come to the rescue by hooking up for two humongous plays and Rice was nice on Greer’s third completion as his heads up play was a thing of beauty. Neely’s kept the drive alive by catching a deflected pass on a third down and six for a gain of 11 yards. His second reception was a short screen pass that he turned into a 43-yard gain. “I was thinking that we needed a big play because Jared was out of the game,” said Neely. “I was confident once they got me the ball in the open field. I made a tackler miss me on the screen pass, and we got it down close for us to score. We all played our hearts out, and Coach Smith was my motivation on Friday. This was a big win for us because we wanted it more than anything.” Greer got the ball down to the 6-yard line with four straight runs, but a penalty moved the ball back five yards to the 11. Greer saved his best for last on a play that showed the fans there was no “quit” in the Horns. A bad snap sailed over his head, but he hustled back nearly 10 yards to pick the ball up. He bought time and found Rice open for an 11-yard yard TD pass to make it 21-20. The Horns were forced to go for two with its kicker Kimble on the sidelines hurt. Both teams took a timeout, but everyone on the range knew that Greer was going to get the football. And he did. He took the ball between the left guard and tackle to score the 2-point conversion and take a 22-21 lead with 2:59 remaining in the game. “I felt comfortable running the football, but Coach Kerley told me to be ready to move back to quarterback after Jared got hurt,” said Greer. “We had some guys make big plays. Our offensive line blocked their tails off on the two-point conversion and especially on that last drive. Corie made two huge plays and especially on the screen pass, and Rice did too catching the pass and scoring. It was definitely a team effort, and all of us were thinking of Coach Randy. We all knew that we were going to get it done for Coach Randy, his family, and our coaching staff. It was a huge win for us.” The defense with Coach Smith watching them from above would finish off the Buffaloes on four downs to win their first conference game of the year.
How the Greene game started West Greene got on the board first by going 69 yards in 14 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Chase Jennings caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Allen Vaughn capping off a drive that lasted over seven minutes. Johnson County would better that one by compiling an 82-yard drive that ended with Neely hauling in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Kimble who then booted the extra point to tie the game at 7-7. Johnson County took the lead after the Buffaloes muffed a bad snap that resulted in a 16-yard loss and the Horns regaining possession at the 29-yard line. Kimble’s 12-yard touchdown run gave the Horns a 14-7 lead on a scoring drive that took 55 seconds. The Longhorns got the ball back and could have run out the clock in the first half by keeping it on the ground but elected to air it out. Kimble’s pass was picked off by Alick Daughtry which led to them tying the game. Daughtry hooked up with Jennings on a 32-yard touchdown pass with 03 seconds remaining in the half to deadlock the game at 14 all. Mistakes would continue to haunt the Horns to start the third quarter. Colton Falk intercepted Kimble for the second time at the 30 that led to a 4-yard touchdown run by Keaton Gobble that put the Buffaloes up 21-14. That set the stage for the Horns’ comeback victory.
Jamal Scott celebrates a close, heartfelt 22-21 victory against West Greene High School in Greeneville Friday night.
Longhorn leaders Greer finished the game with 55 yards rushing on 16 carries. He also completed 5-of-6 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. Kimble threw a touchdown pass and ran for one before leaving the game with what is thought to be a separated shoulder. They also got a super effort from sophomore sensation Neely who had two touchdown catches and three receptions that totaled 76 yards. Curtis Lowe, Neely, Ethan Icenhour, Danny Medley, and Jia Webster registered five tackles apiece for the defense. Joe Fox provided four tackles and three assists. Logan Gilley had a strong game at nose tackles and registered four stops as did Rice. “I was proud of the defense especially there at the end,” added Kerley. “I thought that the return of John Stout to the offensive line was big for us. Stacy had a very big game, and so did Neely and Rice. I could brag on all of them because everyone did something special. The best thing was we won the football game as a team and overcame a lot of adversaries. That says a lot about these kids.”
JC’s Ayzik Landeros (1) ran for three touchdowns and 118 yards against PH in the Pee Wee Division. The Horns lost the game 26-20. Photo by Elle Hensley
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
The youth league Longhorns are enjoying playing football in the Tri-Cities Football League that has cut down on travel for the parents of players and cheerleaders. On Saturday the team traveled to Patrick Henry and split a pair of games with the Lil’ Rebels. Below are briefs of games that were played on Saturday and last weekend.
Pee Wee Division
Patrick Henry 26 Johnson County 20 PH scored their game-winning touchdown late to earn a hard-fought victory on the Jr. Horns. The Longhorns got two mammoth performances by Carter Stout 128 yards rushing and Ayzik Landeros who ran for 118 yards on seven carries and scored all three touchdowns for Johnson County. Landeros also led the team in tackles with 5. The Pee Wee Longhorns are 0-4 on the season but are making great improvement each game to get better.
Freshman Division Johnson County 30 Patrick Henry 6 The Longhorns won their first game of the season in this division by dominating the game from start to finish. Colton Russell scored a 40-yard touchdown on the game’s first play and finished with 90 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Hunter McElyea had a monster game scoring three touchdowns and rushing for 100 yards. Cayden Stanley complied 82 yards rushing for the Horns who got another 50 yards rushing by Hunter Stanley. Also getting into the running game was Hayden Issacs with 30 yards, Gianni Guizzotti with 15 yards, and Corbin Gribble with a nice 10 yard gain. The Longhorns ran for over 300 yards. Nose guard Aaron Madrey led the defense with four sacks and forced two fumbles. McElyea and Russell led the team in tackles with eight apiece, while Stanley racked up seven stops and two sacks. Trevor McCloud and Jacob Bentley both had five tackles. The team is now 1-3 overall.
Junior Varsity Division Johnson County 30 Patrick Henry 8 Hunter Paisley was the big dog for the Horns in their 30-8 win over PH. He rushed for 58 yards and added 83 more receiving along with two touchdowns to lead the way. Carter Atwood added 47 yards rushing and one touchdown and threw for another as the team’s quarterback. Kyle Maple ran for a touchdown and 35 yards. Eli Tester and Aaron Ferguson tacked on a two-point conversion apiece. Jamie Jones was the terminator on defense with 14 tackles. Maple made his presence felt with 11 stops.
Varsity Division Patrick Henry 32 Johnson County 8 Juan Mejia scored the Horns only touchdown and threw the two-point conversion pass to Darren Chappell. Mejia hooked up with Christopher Thomas for a 40-yard pass completion, but it wasn’t enough. Mejia led the defense too with ten tackles. Chappell, Jack Csillag and Josh Potter all had five tackles each. The Horns are now 1-3 on the season. They’ll have a bye this week.
Last Week’s Games versus Hawkins County
Pee Wee Division Hawkins County 25 Johnson County 19 Ayzik Landeros rushed for 126 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough for the Horns to pull out a win. Clayton Osborne scored an extra point. Carter Stout ran for 40 yards, and Osborne collected 15. Stout, Landeros, and Osborne had three tackles apiece on defense
Freshman Division Hawkins County 32 Johnson County 0 Hunter McElyea ran for 65 yards, and Colton Russell added 45, but they couldn’t dent the scoreboard in their loss to PH. Cayden Huskins ran for 25 yards to complete the offense. Russell and McElyea had eight tackles each for the Longhorns. Avery Blevins played big racking up six tackles. Cayden Huskins had four and Aaron Madrey, Jacob Bentley, and Hunter Stanley had three apiece.
Junior Varsity Division: Hawkins County 10 Johnson County 8 The Longhorns ran for 61 yards, but it wasn’t enough to knock off the Hawkeyes. Hunter Paisley had 35 yards to lead the way. Carter Atwood and Kyle Maple added 18 and 10 yards rushing. Colton Grindstaff had nine tackles to lead the defense. Atwood was a beast on defense with eight stops. Eli Tester chipped in with four stops. Hawkins County scored the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left in the game with the Horns leading 8-2.
Varsity Division Hawkins County 34 Johnson County 20 It was a good game from start to finish with the Horns coming up just a little bit short. Juan Mejia completed three passes and threw for 70 yards that included a touchdown. He also ran for 101 yards, and two TD’s on the ground. Christopher Thomas added 30 yards rushing, Darren Chappell had 18 yards, and Jack Csillag had 17 yards rushing. Landon Lipford had three receptions for 70 yards and a TD. Jack Csillag led the defense with eight tackles. Ben Reece had five tackles and a fumble recovery. Mejia finished with five tackles, and Josh Potter added three and forced a fumble. Andrew Long and Landon Lipford racked up three tackles apiece.
The traffic heading around Watauga Lake down to Hampton will be very congested on Friday night starting at 5:30 pm. The Longhorns will make the 30 miles journey down to Big Blue Country looking to try and avenge their only regular-season loss in 2018. Hampton spoiled what would have been another perfect 10-0 regular season by winning a hard-fought 20-19 contest inside of Paul McEwen Stadium. The Horns would win their final eight regular-season games before losing 36-33 to Gatlinburg-Pittman in the first round of the 3A state playoffs. The win allowed the Bulldogs to extend the all-time series advantage over Hampton to 37-32. The Longhorns won 20-8 in their last meeting at J.C. Campbell Stadium in 2017. The Horns fell behind early in last year’s contest and had to dig themselves out of a hole. The Bulldogs jumped on top 14-0 in the first quarter only to watch Johnson County score 19 unanswered points to grab a 19-14 lead with six minutes to go in the game. Turnovers led to a couple of Hampton’s scores, and they burnt the Longhorns’ secondary with a 50-yard pass to set up their game-winning score with 4:58 remaining in the fourth quarter. “We can’t make the same mistakes that we did last year and expect to win,” said Johnson County’s head coach Don Kerley. “We had a lot of trouble running the football.” Kerley’s recollection on the game was correct. The Longhorns gained only 36 yards on the ground and gave up a lot of sack yardage. And Friday they will be at a disadvantage. Quarterback Jared Kimble is believed to have a separated shoulder and will not play. Kimble is not only the team’s leading scorer but was a key linebacker and the team’s placekicker. The Horns will likely move Stacy Greer back to quarterback, and Corie Neely could see a lot of time as a slot back in addition to his wide receiver duties. The Bulldogs will counter with a team that is led by their sophomore quarterback sensation Connor Johns. He led the team to a 42-0 win over Cloudland in their last game by throwing five touchdown passes. He completed 7-of-10 attempts for 145 yards and ran for 98 more. Isaiah Greenwell, Caleb Oaks, Matt Hughes, and Gage Chambers had touchdown catches for the Bulldogs. Hampton complied 308 yards of total offense while Cloudland could muster only 58 yards of offense against the Dog’s defense. “We owe them for last year,” said Greer about the Bulldogs. “We all remember the game well, and this is one that we want to win.” Their late assistant coach Randy Smith was a standout athlete for the Bulldogs during his playing days and was the starting quarterback his senior year. It’s another reason that the team wants to win the game so badly. “It’s hard not to think about Randy when we are out on the field,” added Kerley. “His death is something that we’ll have to try and play through for the remainder of the season. We all spent a lot of time around one another.” The Bulldogs are 2-2 including an impressive 32-13 victory over Unicoi County in Erwin where they rushed for a whopping 355 yards. They were defeated 14-8 by Happy Valley and lost to Gatlinburg-Pittman 46-6. Johnson County is 2-2, and both wins have been by one point. They defeated Sullivan East 14-13 and West Greene 22-21. Losses have been to Sullivan North 12-7 and 14-10 at Chuckey-Doak. Game time is set for 7:30 pm inside of J.C. Campbell Stadium.
JCMS now finds itself in two must-win situations in they want to make the middle school football playoffs in two weeks. The Longhorns fell to Chuckey-Doak 28-8 on Thursday to set up a critical week for them. Chad Morefield scored a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie the game at 8-8, but the Black Knights would go on to score 20 unanswered points. “They are an ok team, but our guys made them look a lot better than they were,” said JCMS’ head coach Devin Shaw. “It should have been 8-8 at halftime, but we had two horrible defensive plays that resulted in them scoring. We had four people tackling one guy for a turnover on downs, and they turn it into a 30-yard touchdown run. We also dropped a touchdown pass that was perfectly thrown by Connor Simcox. We didn’t come ready to play.” The Longhorns will need to come ready this week to remain in the hunt. They’ll host Cloudland on Tuesday on Harold Arnold Field then travel to Hampton on Thursday to battle the first-place Bulldogs. The Longhorns are now 1-1 in league play. Game time for each game is set for 6 pm.
The JCHS volleyball team had a busy week with three matches and ending the week with a tournament on Saturday. The busy schedule had the Lady Longhorns facing off with some tough competitors and held their own for the most part. Unfortunately, once again, the girls can’t seem to keep the momentum going to get those important wins. The Lady Longhorns made the short trek to Virginia to take on the 2018 state champions, Patrick Henry High School. The beginning of the match seemed to have the Lady Longhorns fired up and ready to play. The crowd was loud and very supportive of the home team, but the enthusiasm was not a distraction for Johnson County. The Lady Horns were playing well together and making some great shots at the net, but as the match continued, they did not seem to maintain the stamina they needed and eventually lost the match. They would face off again Thursday on the Longhorn court, but once again, they would lose to the Virginia team. The Lady Horns were back at home Tuesday night facing off against the Sullivan Central Cougars. Unfortunately, the Lady Horns did not have their best game against the Cougars and lost the conference match. The Cougars were strong at the net and were able to capitalize on the weaknesses of their opponents. Coach Michele Cooke said she “feels like my team took a step backward from the level of play they had reached in recent games.” The Mountain Empire tournament was good practice for the Horns going forward. Tournament play is a great way to try new things and work on areas of improvements. Johnson County played well, but once again can’t seem to get the match win. The next couple of weeks are going to be very important to Johnson County as they take on some stiff competitors and play several conference matches. Cooke sees the toughness in her team, “the girls have overcome injury and exhaustion to push through for their team. They are some strong girls.” Cooke knows she has a lot of talent on her team but also realizes that each player needs to push through and play stronger and better as the team goes forward, “We need every athlete to be about the team’s mission in October, and for each player to play the best she possibly can, each moment that she is on the court.”
Johnson County Middle School Longhorns improved their conference record to 2-0 last Tuesday with a 16-6 win over the Unaka Rangers at Harold Arnold Field in Mountain City. Photos by Beth Cox
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
The Junior High Longhorns got what it was looking for on Tuesday night at Harold Arnold Field. Johnson County held off Unaka 16-6 to remain perfect in conference play at 2-0. The Horns were coming off a dramatic 14-8 victory over Happy Valley and were scheduled to play at Chuckey-Doak on Tuesday. Head coach Devin Shaw was elated with the win and how his team played despite having several key players missing in action. “We finally came out ready to play and got off to a great start,” said Shaw. “We scored all of our points in the first quarter, and the defense played well except for one play that they eventually scored on. Unaka likes to throw the ball, and we defended the pass pretty well and started with us getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. I thought our offensive and defensive lines were the difference in the ball game. Chad Morefield had another big game filling in for Kyle Sluder at running back. He’s the type of player you can plug in anywhere on the field, and it showed the past two games. Tonight we played well enough to win.”
Morefield to the rescue Morefield would score all of Johnson County’s points for the game in the first quarter. He also added a pair of conversion runs. His 35-yard touchdown run with 5:45 remaining in the first quarter put the Horns in front 8-0 after his successful conversion run. He extended their lead to 16-0 later in the quarter. His 36-yard touchdown reception from Ethan Simcox came with 53 seconds remaining in the period. From there the Longhorn defense would take over the game.
Defense pitches a near shutout The held the Rangers scoreless for three and one-half quarters before a blown assignment would finally allow Unaka to dent the scoreboard. J.T. Thomas hit Isaiah White with a beautiful 25-yard touchdown pass with 5:32 remaining in the game for the Rangers only score. The Longhorns had several players contribute in the win. Connor Simcox had a good game on both sides of the football. He caught three passes, completed a couple more and chipped in with five tackles to lead the defense. Morefield added five tackles in addition to running rushing for 65 yards. Chase Muncy provided 40 yards rushing and five tackles on defense. The line was a force led by the play of Daniel Stout, Nate Dorman, and Isaiah Fenner. Stout plugged up the gaps and had a game-high six tackles. Fenner contributed four as did Dorman from his nose guard position. “It was a grind from the start,” said Shaw about the win. “We have some kids out for the season and a few that we’re hoping to get back. We’re not very deep, but our kids are playing well. I was pleased with the win and our effort.”
Unaka 0 0 0 6 –6 JCMS 16 0 0 0 –16
1st Quarter JC—Morefield 35 run (Morefield run) 5:45 JC—Morefield 36 pass from E. Simcox (Morefield run) .53 4th Quarter UN—White 25 pass from Thomas (run failed) 5:32
JCHS assistant football coach and THP officer Chris Dunn is holding a plaque he received at a recent 911 First Responders Dinner. Photo submitted
By Tim Chambers SPORTS EDITOR
It was only fitting that one former Johnson County athlete and now assistant football coach was honored for his service at a recent First Responders Dinner held in Johnson City on the 911 anniversary. Chris Dunn, a trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol was recognized for his youth mentoring, good sportsmanship and being a role model both on and off the field to the kids that he coaches and others in the community. Dunn was a dynamite football and basketball player before graduating in 2000. He was tabbed as an Honorable Mention All-state performer in both sports and was a member of the Johnson City Press Elite 11 football team. Now he’s among the elite when it comes to role models in this area. Dunn puts his life on the line every day as a Trooper, but it was his toughness that he gathered as a Longhorn that makes him one of the top THP members statewide. “My primary goal as a coach and role model is to set a good example for the youth that is around me,” said Dunn. “I want our kids to be tough and competitive and give their all. I want to see all of them become successful.” Dunn works hard at dividing his time between his job as a coach and trooper. He also recently married the love of his life, Brittany, who supports his efforts in doing both. So next time you are out at a Longhorns’ football game tip your hat to Chris for the excellent job that he does as a role model coach and hard-working Trooper. It’s a high honor that he received and one that was richly deserved.