By Beth Cox
On a wet, cold night, the Longhorns welcomed conference rival Unicoi Blue Devils to finish the 2021 fall season.
With so many varsity players missing, the final game was in the hands of several athletes from the JV team.
The Longhorns have been here several times, with many missing from the starting lineup due to illness or injury.
Friday night, starting quarterback Connor Simcox could not play due to an injury he sustained against Cloudland. The sophomore quarterback was hoping to play, but “it just didn’t work out.” So, once again, Grinnan Walker stepped in and performed well for Johnson County with 45 passing yards for the Longhorns and rushing the ball for 96 yards and two touchdowns. The count included a two-point conversion.
Corey Neely and Nate Rice were also out for injuries, leaving Johnson County to struggle all night.
Unfortunately, the Longhorn defense could not keep the Blue Devils away from the end zone. With 14 points in the first quarter and a 40-point lead going into the locker room, the Longhorns lost hope.
In the second half, the Blue Devils also controlled the game offensively with an additional 18 points for a 58-21 win over the Longhorns.
The silver lining became apparent as the freshmen showed out for the home crowd and left Longhorn fans hoping for a better season next year.
Kyle Sluder had a good night with four tackles and 45 receiving yards, and one touchdown. Jace Stout followed behind Sluder with 3 for 30 receiving yards.
Ethan Icenhour had five tackles against the Blue Devils, followed by a handful of Freshmen Noah McQueen with three, Jace Stout two tackles, Mason Sluder, and Landon Walker with one tackle for the night.
Also adding to the tackles, Brenton Black, Evan Dollar, James Potter, Ethan Simcox, Grinnan Walker, and John Stout with one. Trevor
Henson had two tackles as well.
The playoffs will start November 5, with the Longhorns (2-7) heading west to face off with Alcoa High School (9-1). Conference champs Unicoi (9-1) will be playing against Austin East (2-7) at home. Other
conference playoffs are Chuckey Doak High School (6-4) hosting Gatlinburg Pittman (6-4) while West Greene (4-5) will be traveling to Pigeon Forge High School (7-2).