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Former Longhorn leads ‘Blazers to District 1-AAA Championship

By Matt Hill

Ryan Arnold already has one District Tournament Championship as a player and now he has one as a coach.
The 1996 JCHS Graduate and former All-State Player added to his achievements last Tuesday night when his Daniel Boone Trailblazers defeated Dobyns-Bennett 61-57 to capture their first District title in Class AAA since 1983 and it was their first title as a member of the Big Eight Conference.
Arnold was on the team that won the District at JCHS in 1995 and Boone last won a Class AA District title in 1997, but this moment was one that Arnold and the Daniel Boone community will always treasure.
As far as winning the District title, it was a little bit of a surprise to Arnold. “I thought we had an unbelievable summer,” Arnold said following the District Championship game with Dobyns-Bennett. I thought we could do some things, but I thought we might be a year away from a District Championship. I feel like we’ve hit our stride the last couple of weeks and a lot of that might be we haven’t had our football players the whole time. We came in late and it took some time to get the football out of them. I don’t know about District Tournament, but I thought we could get things done.”
Arnold is in his fourth season at Daniel Boone and has turned the program into a power in the Big Eight Conference.
The ‘Blazers had to defeat preseason conference favorite Sullivan South and conference winner and traditional power Science Hill just to get to the championship game.
With what seemed like almost the entire Daniel Boone community at the game, the ‘Blazers fell behind early against Kingsport in the third but rode the play of Kevin Connell in the closing minutes.
The ‘Blazers pulled away and then held for the historic win.
“They’re winners,” Arnold said about his group. “They’re competitors, they go at it hard in practice every day and they do things right.”
Connell knows that Coach Arnold is a winner to has done the right things to allow this Championship to happen.
“Coach Arnold is an excellent coach,” Connell said. “Him and Coach (Brandon) Broyles work with us every day and this year we changed the offense to a little spread action. We don’t have many post players so we had to go to the spread. Coach Arnold has worked through it and sometimes he yells at us, but he works us pretty well.”
Of course everyone remembers in 2005 when Arnold left his assistants job at Daniel Boone after it was reported that Unaka head coach Donald Ensor was going to be hired to take Bobby Snyder’s place, so he took the girls opening at JCHS.
However, Ensor ended up not getting hired and Arnold was lured back to Daniel Boone three weeks later to take the boys head coaching job.
Arnold had a lot to prove and a lot of pressure, but he knew he had done the right thing.
“I love Mountain City and it was a hard, hard choice, but I was a boys coach to start with and that’s where I felt I needed to be,” Arnold said. “We’ve had our hard times, but we’ve been building toward this. We’ve had to build and scrap and we have a lot of players who are not here tonight who have moved on that built up to this point.”
His high school coach, J.R. Campbell, was in attendance along with several people from Johnson County.
“Chris Mullins was here tonight and I’ve gotten calls from people everywhere,” Arnold said. “J.R. is here and I’ve had a lot of support.”
Arnold also was able to get his first win over Science Hill during the tournament. which for three days was the biggest win of his career.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this weeks, The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!