By Tim Chambers
Johnson County will look to do something the Coyote couldn’t. They’ll try and stop a speedy bunch of Roadrunners on Friday night in the second round of the TSSAA 3A state playoffs on Harold Arnold Field.
Austin-East is faced with a task that could be more difficult. No Roadrunner or anyone else has figured out a way to beat Johnson County in 2017 despite a few coming close.
The latest came in the first round when they got past Northview Academy 21-20. It took Hayden Osborne’s block of a game-tying extra point to preserve the win.
The same Northview squad that led the Roadrunners by seven with 10 minutes remaining in the game just two weeks ago. The same Roadrunners that needed a late first half touchdown to lead Unicoi County 7-0 at the half.
“They are good and have lots of speed but not like the ones back years ago that had Leroy Thompson and that crew,” said Johnson County’s head coach Don Kerley. “They do have one really good player that stands out at quarterback. He was defensive player of the year last season and they’re all pretty athletic, especially their wide receivers and running backs. They’ve been able to put a lot of points on the board. We’ll have to limit that and control the football. We can’t have turnovers or blown assignments either. We’re at our best when we take care of the football. Our kids are excited about the opportunity.”
Kerley was right on the money talking about Austin East. Quarterback Curtis Hunter is one of Knoxville’s top players and has already signed to play with Army next year. He has thrown for over 1800 yards and is one of the team’s top rushers.
His primary target will be Kevin Andrews who leads the team in receptions and yards per catch.
Their only other loss was to 4-A powerhouse Knox Fulton 20-14.
Austin East is averaging 29 points per game against its opponents and has allowed only 12.
Johnson County has outscored its opponents 233-136. They are averaging nearly 22 points per contest and have held opponents to 12.
Johnson County must eliminate costly penalties.
The Longhorns have shot themselves in the foot over the past two weeks with silly penalties that have hurt them on both sides of the ball. Most of the offensive ones have occurred inside the red zone.
They must capitalize on every scoring opportunity at hand and not be afraid to open it up.
The defense must prevent A-E’s receivers from making big plays in the secondary and keep their all-state quarterback in the pocket. They need to make this an old-fashioned slobber-knocking, knock-down and drag-out type of game.
“HOME” Field Advantage”
Paul McEwen Stadium needs to see a multitude turn out and support the Longhorns. Austin-East has a 100-plus mile trip to make and most of them have never been on roads that wind around the lake like we have. The banks in town need to close early and the bank overlooking the stadium needs to be full along with the stands. The Roadrunners need to view a sea of maroon when they walk out on Harold Arnold Field.
The 1988 squad lost in the second round of the playoffs to Alcoa, who will likely be next week’s opponent at home if we win. Let’s not put the cart before the horse.
Stopping a Roadrunner is more important this week than tracking down a Tornado.
Kickoff is set for 7 pm.