By Tim Chambers
There is much hype about the Science Hill at Elizabethton football game on Friday, but nobody is talking about Johnson County at Sullivan East. That’s because the sports prognosticators don’t know what to expect or who the key players are for Sullivan East, who has a new head coach this season. Last year’s defensive coordinator J.C. Simmons takes over for a team that finished 1-9 with their only victory coming against Sullivan North in Week 9. They fell to Johnson County 14-13 in their season opener and lost seven in a row before picking up a win over Sullivan North. But one must look at the Patriots schedule. It’s loaded with elite teams such as defending state champion Elizabethton, Greeneville, and Sullivan South.
East wanted to play the game despite the high COVID numbers, and many believe it’s because they feel like this is one game on the schedule that they have a chance of winning.Nobody knows what to expect from both teams who have missed valuable practice time due to the COVID Virus. But both sides appear ready to go and will tee it up on Friday night at 7:30 at the Patriot’s Pasture at Sullivan East.
The Patriots are led by senior linebacker Clayton Ivester who wears No. 81 on the field. He’s the only starter who has been named this far by the Pats who currently have a battle between two seniors for their quarterback position. Coach Simmons stated that their line and secondary were the strengths of their team to one local newspaper reporter. Johnson County’s win last year was difficult. They trailed 13-0 at halftime and rally for 14 points in the third quarter to win on a 67-yard touchdown pass from Stacey Greer to Jared Kimble.
The Longhorns rushed for 189 yards in the win, and the running game should be their strong point this year. Greer moves from quarterback to running back and should his speed and strength should compliment speed back Samuel Mann’s running abilities. Sophomore speedster Dalton Brown will handle the quarterbacking duties behind an offensive line that returns three starters off last year’s team in John Stout, Connor McNutt, and Ricky Fenner.The Horns fumbled five times last year against East and lost three something they must avoid this year.
“The kids are excited about playing,” said head coach Don Kerley at Saturday’s media day. “We feel like we’re behind some but the kids are ready to go. We might have to play a lot of players, including some freshmen, but we’ll get through this. We all are excited about getting to play.”
Kickoff is set to take place at 7:30 pm, in Bluff City.