By Tim Chambers
Johnson County’s football season opener at Sullivan East on August 18 is suddenly only 35 days away and the first passing league camp is just around the corner. The Longhorns will travel to Hampton on Friday and Saturday to take part in their two-day passing league camp and a couple of players couldn’t be happier.
The “cousin combination” of juniors Nathan Arnold and Shane Greer are anxious to get started. Both have worked hard in the offseason and each of them has a chance one day to play at the collegiate level.
Arnold threw for over 1500 yards last season and Greer hit close to .400 on the diamond this spring. But now their focus is on getting this team ready for a brutal pigskin schedule that includes six road games in 2016.
“We all are excited about getting on the field this week,” said Arnold. “It helps me because I get a lot of work in. That helps me learn my receivers. We get to see what the other teams have and what we need to do to prepare for them. Last year we placed second at Hampton. We would like to do one better this year.”
In order to do so, they’ll have to rely on a junior dominated team.
One of those is Greer who will start for the second consecutive season at tight end. He feels like that all the players are much better prepared this time around.
“We’ve had a lot of time to get used to Coach Kerley’s system,” said Greer. “I sort of got thrown into the fire last year and that help me tremendously. I was reacting to the football much better during the last half of the season and my speed increased. I think we’ve got some good athletes on the team, and I think we can make a difference at tight end. My goal is to find the end zone a few times. I want to do the little things well that help us win football games.”
Arnold is excited about having Greer and Jordan Edes-King at the tight end slots. He thinks they will both be hard to defend.
“Shane and Jordan run well, plus they are quick and very athletic,” added Arnold. “I think both of them will be good targets because they have big bodies that are hard to defend. I can see us using them some and both of them are good downfield blockers. I can see us running the ball a little more with Dakota Wright and Bud Icenhour in the backfield. Each of them has speed and good hands. I feel like our line is ready to step up and have a good season. The whole team is excited.”
Arnold performed nicely despite getting thrown into the fire as a 10th grader. He knows the loss of Cody Bailie and Samuel Icenhour will definitely created a void at the receiving slots.
“We don’t have the size or the go-to guys that have the experience like Cody and Sam did, but we’re much deeper there. We have a lot more equal receivers who catch, run and do some good things. We should be able to spread teams out. I think we can be successful running and passing. We just have to take care of the football and not turn it over.”
Greer likes the idea of having Arnold as his quarterback. He’s also happy to be around several more family members.
“Nate and I warm up together every day before we start practice,” added Greer. “I’m lucky because not every player gets to play for two uncles that coach and three cousins who play on the team.
Greer was referring to head coach Don Kerley and assistant coach Tom Kerley, in addition to Arnold, Sam Kerley and Will Kerley.
“Sam just keeps getting better in practice and we can see it every day,” said Greer. “We think Will is going to come back after missing last year with an injury. It’s a lot of fun to have everyone around. We all enjoy being on the same team.”
Arnold hopes that the team can roll back the clock and duplicate what they did four years ago.
“I’m excited about playing with this group,” added Arnold. “We won the middle school championship my seventh grade year with this same crew. It was great back then and I know it would be great again if we could do it a second time.”
Greer agreed with Arnold that a championship would be special. He says it starts on Friday.
“It makes other teams think when they see you go out and play well,” added Greer. “It doesn’t matter if it’s in a passing league. Teams respect you when you play good. We want this to be a stepping stone toward a great season.”