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JCHS Longhorn playoff hopes hinge on defeating Pigeon Forge

Zach Eller #5 is averaging nearly 30 yards per kickoff return.
Zach Eller #5 is averaging nearly 30 yards per kickoff return.

By Tim Chambers

It’s been recorded over 200 times and was written by Marijohn Wilkin and Kris Kristofferson. “One day at a time” is all that the Longhorns are asking for when they play Pigeon Forge on Friday inside of Paul McEwen Stadium.
There will be plenty of pushing, shoving and crowding the line because it’s a must win for both team. They each know the stairway they have to climb in order to take home second place and more importantly hosting a Region 3-A home playoff game.
It started on Thursday when the ‘Horns got a prayer answered. They left Northview Academy with a hard-fought 34-24 victory.
Once again they control their own destiny but home field advantage has meant nothing to them in 2016.  The Longhorns are 0-3 with losses to Hampton, Elizabethton and West Greene on Arnold Field.
Pigeon Forge has been just the opposite. They are 3-5 with all their victories coming at home. They’ll close the regular season at Claiborne County after Friday’s game with the Longhorns.
Last week they took down Chuckey-Doak in convincing fashion 35-14.
Preston Hickerson had a 19-yard touchdown run on their first drive but they failed to get any more points on their next three.
Colby Manis scored on a 7-yard run in the second quarter that was set up by Dawson Day’s interception deep inside the red zone.
Alec King made a nice leaping catch for a touchdown just before the half ended with the Tigers leading 21-0 at the half.
Day picked off his second pass of the game to start the third quarter and his value on both sides of the ball is evident.
He turned a bad snap into a 21-yard touchdown run to make it 28-0. Chuckey-Doak scored a pair of late touchdowns that cut the lead in half but Hickerson hauled in another 17-yard TD pass with less than two minutes to go in the game.
The Longhorns must be aware of Day’s presence on the field. He had a third interception in the game and now has six on the season.
He completed 4-of-7 passes for 60 yards and two scores and led the team in rushing with 70 yards on 10 attempts.
Johnson County dropped their first three games before winning, then reeled off a pair of consecutive road wins. Their loss to West Greene appeared to all but end their season but they caught a break at Northview on Thursday.
The Cougars’ quarterback, Justin Howard, was injured late in the third quarter after accounting for nearly 300 yards of their offense. But Johnson County has battled through that all season.
The Longhorns lost last year’s All-Conference performer and leading scorer, Dakota Wright, to a torn ACL and everyone knew his value to this football team. All year long they’ve been trying to regroup.
The Horns will need for several players to step up on Friday night if they are to defeat the Tigers.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.