By Tim Chambers
It’s been smooth sailing for the state’s fourth ranked team in Class 3A so far, but things could get a bit tougher on Friday night in Mosheim. Johnson County (4-0) will travel to West Greene (3-1) with sole possession of first place in the conference on the line.
West Greene is coming off an impressive 35-21 victory over South Greene for their third win in a row.
The Buffaloes defeated Claiborne County 21-6 two weeks ago by displaying a strong defensive game. West Greene intercepted four passes and sacked the quarterback three times in the win.
The Longhorns must shut down Julian Lane on offense if they expect to win. His 76-yard kickoff return was the deciding factor in their 14-7 win over Johnson County last year.
He had a 41-yard touchdown run against Claiborne and three interceptions in the game. He rushed for 50 yards and had 53 yards receiving.
Dexter Frye led the ground game with 76 yards. Quarterback Aalick Daugherty threw for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Bryan McCrary caught three passes including one for a TD.
Johnson County head coach Don Kerley is well aware of their key players.
“Julian Lane is one of the best athletes in our league,” said Kerley. “They can move him anywhere and he’ll produce. You have to know where he is because he can take it to the house on any play. But they’ve got some good players besides him and a strong offensive line. They’ll be a tough challenge for us.”
The Buffs only blemish was to Pigeon Forge in a game where they fumbled four times. Kerley knows his team must take care of the football.
“They look a lot like us size wise,” said Kerley. “They don’t have a lot of size but they are very quick and athletic. We have to take care of the football and not turn it over. I feel like that will be a key factor in whoever wins.”
West Greene has yet to encounter an offense like Johnson County’s.
The Longhorns are averaging 31 points per game and giving up just 10.
Linebacker and leading tackler Hayden Osborne believes the Longhorns will be ready.
“We know what this game means and we have to have it to win a conference championship,” said Osborne. “I feel like we play better against better teams. We won’t be overlooking anyone, especially them. They got us at our place last year and a game we should have won. I think we’ll be ready to play against them.”
Kerley hopes the Longhorn nation will show up in big numbers on Friday at Sauceman Field.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm.