By Tim Chambers
Johnson County will count on several “role” players to produce in 2017. They are hoping that a couple of seniors can help them “roll” to a first ever Mountain Seven Conference championship.
Caden Arnold and Jimmy Bower are two of 18 seniors on the Longhorns’ roster. And each of them knows their value to the team.
Arnold will see action as a running back, defensive back and slot receiver. Bower will start on defense as a safety.
Each one is happy trying to bring something to the team.
“I’m what you would call a utility belt,” said Arnold. “I’ll play anywhere that I’m needed. I love being in that role.”
Arnold’s versatility and speed makes him a dual threat whenever he gets the football.
“My goal is to score anytime I touch the football because of my speed,” added Arnold. “I love running the ball and see a hole open up. It’s fun to get out in the open field, then try and outrun the pack. There is nothing like it. My coaches stress to me about making the big play and putting it in another gear. I want to score but I’m always looking to make a play that will help our team.”
The same can be said for Bower who loves playing in the defensive backfield.
“I like being there because I love helping out with the run and being isolated alone with the receiver,” said Bower. “It’s like you’re there and everybody is watching. We’re all confident in our abilities because we’ve got the experience and a ton of depth. We feel like this is our year and it has to be. We don’t have a next year or another opportunity after this one. We’ve got to go out and prove ourselves. It all starts on August 17 against Sullivan East.”
Bower believes that beating East in their season opener could be a stepping stone to a successful season.
“We’re hungry because they’ve beaten us pretty good for two years straight,” added Bower. “We need to get that monkey off our backs. We’re excited about playing in our new conference but we’re also excited about playing our rivals. We love having Hampton, Happy Valley and Cloudland on our schedule. You get a lot of fans at those games.”
Arnold didn’t hesitate when asked what his goals were.
“Mine is the same as every other player. We want to go 10-0 and make the playoffs. I would love to be recognized as one of the best teams to ever play up here. You have to win in order to do that. We’ve got playmakers on this team at nearly every position. Our backfield is solid and so are our receivers. You can see the improvement in practice. The energy and mindset is there to win a championship.”
Bower believes that the team can overcome its lack of size.
“We’re small in a lot of areas but we’ll make up for it with our speed. All of us are a lot faster and stronger than we were last year. We’ve all worked hard in the weight room. I believe that our fans will see a difference.”
Arnold and Bower both agree that winning a first ever Mountain Seven Conference title would be special.
“We can do that if we play together and stay healthy,” said Bower.
Arnold added, “We don’t intend on letting anything keep us from having a great season. We got knocked out of the playoffs last year and that left a bad taste. It’s something that I don’t want to experience in 2017. We don’t want anything but a conference championship.”