By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
JCHS A soaking wet Harold Arnold Field was the perfect place for Johnson County to end a three-year drought against Sullivan East on Thursday. The Longhorns kicked off the 2017 season with an impressive 34-0 shutout win in a game that they completely dominated from start to finish.
The Longhorns scored on their first possession and never looked back. Head coach Don Kerley was elated with the win.
“A lot of kids made big plays and I’m proud of them,” said Kerley. “They worked hard all summer and last year didn’t go our way and it was hard on them. You could tell our kids weren’t intimidated when the game started. East fumbled the kickoff and that loosened us up a bit. It would be hard to single anyone out because so many kids made big plays. It was a great night for the Longhorns.”
Indeed it was for everyone who was cheering for the maroon. They didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard.
Johnson County mounted a 43-yard drive that took only three plays to score on their first possession.
Gage Hampton found the end zone from 14 yards out after reeling off a 20-yard run the play before. Jared Kimble added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
The Longhorns dominated time of possession in the first quarter with a 61-yard drive on their second series.
Nathan Arnold completed a pair of passes to Bud Icenhour and one to Hampton that covered 26 yards combined. Hampton capped it off with a 4-yard touchdown burst with 11:53 remaining in the second quarter making it 14-0 after Kimble’s PAT.
The Patriots finally mounted a potential scoring drive late in the half but Icenhour’s interception in the end zone spoiled that bid. It was all Johnson County from that point.
The Longhorns unleashed an air attack that saw them dropping bombs to start the third quarter. Nathan Arnold hit Shane Greer with a 42-yard completion, then a 25-yard touchdown pass to complete the drive, but they weren’t done.
Arnold’s 60-yard touchdown pass to Greer made it 28-0 with 1:24 remaining in the third quarter.
Caden Arnold got in on the scoring act with a 7-yard touchdown run with 10:14 remaining in the game.
The offensive line play was stellar with Nate Shepherd, Tristan Dishman, Hunter Wright, Dylan Shepherd and Christian Krupsky leading the way. Quarterback Nathan Arnold was quick to offer up praise.
“Coach Kerley did a great job calling the plays and our offensive line played great,” said Arnold. “We ran the ball well in the first half and when they came up on the line we started throwing, and doing some play action stuff in the second half. We got our receivers open and hit some big plays and our defense played spectacular. We haven’t won a season opener in six years so it was great to get out there and earn a big win.”
On a night when the offense shined brightly it was the defense that stole the show. They limited Sullivan East to only three first downs and 38 yards total offense. Hayden Osborne led the way with 10 tackles and a pair of sacks.
“We were clicking on all cylinders,” said Osborne. “Anytime they ran a sweep we were out there, and we were there when they run up the gut too. We were everywhere out there. It felt great to finally get a win against them.”
Tyler Norris had a big night racking up eight tackles and two sacks. Jordan Edes-King had five tackles, a fumble recovery and a sack. Josh Herman and RJ Snyder logged five tackles each. Bud Icenhour had two interceptions in addition to his three catches for 25 yards. Zack Eller broke up a pair of passes as did Herman.
“We wanted this game for our seniors because they had never beaten them,” said Norris. “We wanted a shutout and we went out and got it. I felt like everyone had a great game overall. I felt like our team speed caused them some problems.”
Arnold completed 9-of-13 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Greer caught four passes for 136 yards and two scores.
“We knew they had a lot of players going both ways so we felt like they might wear down,” said Greer. “Coach Kerley has worked hard to where we play a lot of people and don’t wear down. I think that came into play. They got tired and we didn’t. It was a total team effort from start to finish.”
Gage Hampton rushed for 48 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns. Troy Arnold carried seven times for 28 yards. Edes-King also tacked on a 38-yard reception.
Kerley gave praise to his coaching staff in addition to all the players.
“Our coaches did a great job of putting in a new defense and our kids pinned their ears back and got after them. We looked pretty fresh out there and a lot of kids played. They got gassed early and we took advantage of it.”
Johnson County will face a huge test on Friday when they travel to Hampton. Kerley knows what’s at stake.
“It’s always a big game for both schools. I hope we have a lot of fan support at the game to cheer us on. We’re going to need all of them.”
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