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Highlanders ready for Longhorns

By Tim Chambers
Sports Editor

Johnson County is a banged-up football team, but they won’t get any sympathy when they travel to Roan Mountain on Friday to do battle with Cloudland. The Highlanders rolled over Jellico 52-28 in the last game that saw them clinch the top spot in the Region 1 1A playoffs. 

Seth Birchfield carried the ball 27 times for 171 yards in the contest and scored two touchdowns. Caleb Sluder ran for 149 yards on 22 carries, while Gage McKinney added 93 yards on the ground and caught a touchdown pass. In all, the Highlanders rushed for nearly 450 yards on the night and dominated time of possession.

“They have a good football team,” said head coach Don Kerley about Cloudland.” “They always have backs that run hard and get those tough yards in the trenches. We’ll have to play well to beat them.”

The Highlanders enter the game with a 5-3 overall record, having lost to Hampton twice and once to Happy Valley, two teams that defeated the Longhorns soundly. Johnson County is 4-4 overall and battling for a playoff berth. The Horns could still finish first, but they would need to bring a lot to Hampton. 

The best-case scenario for the Horns would be if Unicoi County can defeat Chuckey-Doak on Friday and the Horns beat Unicoi County the following week. The Highlanders quarterback Chase Shell completed 3-6 passes for 47 yards and one touchdown. The Longhorns defense can expect a steady diet of the run game on Friday and will need to shut down the Landers’ rushing attack if they hope to have a chance at winning. Kickoff is set for 7:30 on John Orr Field at Cloudland High School.