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Johnson County Longhorn football team preparing for tough season

Although the first official game is still a few weeks away, the Johnson County Longhorn football team has been busy preparing for the tough season ahead. With a young team featuring a strong sophomore class, head coach Mike Atwood has been hard at work trying to help develop the skills necessary to compete with some of the best teams in the region. “Last year’s freshman class got a lot of experience on the varsity team. Overall I think we’ll be a little more experienced this year, but we’re still going to be young. Our team strength ought to be a lot better because we’re a lot stronger, unfortunately we’re not a whole lot faster than we were,” Atwood said.
The Longhorns have been spending time both in the weight room as well as working on their skills on the field by taking part in several 7 on 7 passing camps. “With the camps its all passes. It’s your skill players, your defensive backs, quarterbacks, and receivers. The main point is to work on their pass routes and help the defensive backs work on their footwork. It’s just like touch football but we have been competing against other schools. We went out against Holston and Hampton, and are getting ready to go out to a tournament at Hampton that has about 15 teams, including North Greene, Cloudland, and David Crockett.”
Unfortunately, as Atwood pointed out, one of the team’s first big challenges of the season may also be the most difficult they will face all year. “The first game will be August 17th and we’re going to have a real tough schedule. Playing Tennessee High the opening game is not easy for anybody, but especially when you’re as young as us. Athletically it’s going to be hard to keep up with Tennessee High, but other than that I believe we should be competitive,” said Atwood.
Yet even before their match up against the Vikings, Johnson County will get a chance to warm up in a Jamboree set at Sullivan North on August 10th. In the meantime, the Longhorns will be steadily increasing their practice schedule in an effort to be in the best shape they can be for the beginning of the season. “We start our two a day practices on July 23rd,” said Atwood. “We practice at 6:30 in the morning and then again at 6:30 that night, which is all we’re allowed to do. Then we can go full pads after July 30th. So starting the 23rd we will be conditioning and then on the 30th we will begin regular practice.”
As for the actual layout of the team this year, Atwood seemed very optimistic about some of the positions, while still noting the loss of several strong senior players. “We lost Craig Jennings, Skylar Reece, and Chris Stallings, who are going to be very tough to replace. Those guys played two ways for us. They played offense, defense and almost all the special teams. It’s going to be tough to replace them,” he said.
Commenting on what he has seen from the team so far, Atwood went on to say, “In the spring practice and just in the off season program David Eller has really done well. He’s an upcoming junior that will play offensive tackle and defensive tackle. We’ve moved Chase Kleine to tight end, and Warren Curley and Lucas Henson are competing for the quarterback position right now. Chase will also be playing defensive end. Timmy Bellamy will be playing outside linebacker and running back. Patrick South will be playing a tailback, Lucas Poteet will be a fullback, Conner Icenhour will be on defensive tackle, and Jordan Grubb will probably play the other outside linebacker.”
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