By Tim Chambers
Fans that got to see last year’s football game between Johnson County and Cloudland were treated to a classic. The Longhorns entered the game 7-1 and were ranked No. 5 in the state’s Class 3A poll.
The Highlanders came in at 7-1 and were ranked No. 6 ranked in Class 1A. It was one that the Highlanders still remember.
The Longhorns had
reeled off six straight
wins after a 20-19 loss to Hampton. The Highlanders’ only blemish was a 20-6
defeat to Gatlinburg-Pittman.
That was until one dramatic play at the end
would add another defeat to Cloudland’s resume. Nathan Lane picked off a pass
with 40 seconds remaining in and took it 55 yards for a touchdown to break an 8-8 tie.
Johnson County won the game 14-8. Lane had a second interception on the Highlanders’ next play, and Tyler Norris ended the
game with a whopping 22 tackles.
Now those are just
shades of the past. Johnson County no longer has
Lane and Norris and Cloudland’s all-state running
back Jordan Coffey has graduated. But bragging rights are still on the line for both teams.
How they have fared
It’s been a roller coaster ride for the Longhorns so far. With a break here and there, they could be standing at 7-1 instead of their currently 4-4 overall record.
The Longhorns’ have suffered three close losses by a combined 15 points. Those losses include; Sullivan North 12-7, Chuckey-Doak 14-10, and Happy Valley 13-7.
It’s been a different merry-go-round for the Highlanders.
They were blown out in four of their five losses. They include; Hampton twice 42-6 and 44-0, Happy Valley 19-6, South Greene 41-21, and Avery County 42-16.
Their three wins were against Unaka 44-20, Hancock County 30-6, and last week’s 50-28 thumping of Jellico.
The Highlanders replaced head coach Glen White three weeks ago with junior high head coach Scott Potter. They are 2-1 since the move.
Time to make a statement
The Highlanders will enter the game sky high after earning the No. 1 seed in the upcoming District 1A playoffs. They pounded Jellico
50-28 on Friday in a game where they completely dominated.
The trio of Seth Birchfield, Hunter Shell, and
Tristan Lacy was the driving force, and they racked up over 400 yards of total offense.
Johnson County’s strong suit has been its defense who is has given up less than 14 points in five of their games. North Greene scored 22 but eight of those games against the reserves.
While the Highlanders have given up a lot of big plays by way of the pass, it is an area the Longhorns have also struggled. Cloudland runs an aggressive defense where they’ll try and stack the box with eight and nine defenders.
Quarterback Stacy Greer threw two touchdown
passes against North
Greene but was also intercepted twice. He has
shown a great ability to
run the ball gaining 76 yards on the ground in Friday’s win.
Curtis Lowe rushed for 106 yards in their 33-7 win over Claiborne County and followed that up with 150 yards on the ground against Happy Valley.
On Friday, he carried 13 times for 60 yards giving him 316 yards total over his last three games.
Head coach Don Kerley
is taking nobody for
“We want to win these
next two games for our seniors,” said Kerley.
“We want to send them out with a winning record,
and we need to beat Cloudland and Unicoi County to do that.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm inside of Paul McEwen Stadium.