JCMS’s Colton Grindstaff (33) exits the field after the middle school Longhorns’ 20-14 loss to the Happy Valley Warriors. Photo by Joey Icenhour.
Longhorns 14, Warriors 20
By Beth Cox
The Johnson County Middle School football team traveled to Elizabethton Thursday night to take on the Happy Valley Warriors. Happy Valley is probably Johnson County’s most formidable competitor; they came out ready for war against the Longhorns. The Warriors got ahead early (12-0) and stayed that way throughout the night. In the second quarter, quarterback Jack Csilliag was able to get the pass to Juan Mejia to get the first touchdown right before going into half-time (12-6).
The Longhorns got the ball first going into the third quarter and were in an excellent position to score again on the Warriors. However, they got called back from a block in the back then Csil- liag threw an interception three plays later. Happy Valley was able to capitalize on the Longhorn’s misfortune (20-6). Mejia wasn’t done, though. He ran 75 yards to get the second touchdown of the night for the Longhorns with hopes of regaining control of the game. Unfortunately, Happy Valley lead going into the fourth quarter 20-14.
Johnson County was still fighting hard even though one of the starting players was out due to COVID quarantine, and Haiden Cobb was injured at the beginning of the game. The latest blow to the Longhorns was Mejia’s in- jury that took him out of the game for the rest of the night. Johnson County was working hard to get points back on the scoreboard with three starters out, but Happy Valley was unstoppable. Happy Valley’s strong offense led them straight through the Longhorns and got the win for the night.
The Longhorns’ loss was hard on the team, losing the first game of the season and an end of an era for the eighth-grader players. They had not lost a game at all in middle school. Coach Devin Shaw was disappointed in the loss but quickly added that Happy Valley was the toughest competitor they have faced and then to consider the injuries of the night.
Shaw, to his credit, immediately began encouraging his team, “We told the boys it’s hard losing, but it is only a loss if they don’t learn from the mistakes we made.” The eighth-graders are motivated to get back at practice and be ready for their next game against Unaka at home Thursday night.