By Tim Chambers
Johnson County will travel to Baileyton on Friday night as a heavy favorite to knock off North Greene. The Huskies enter the game with a 2-6 record with wins over Unaka 32-20 and Jellico 20-14.
The “pack-dogs” have lost lopsided games to three of Johnson County’s common opponents so far.
Unicoi County handed them a 65-6 defeat, Chuckey-Doak 53-18, and West Greene 49-0 all prevailed.
North Greene has allowed 313 points in their six losses and is averaging giving up
46 points per contest on defense.
Hopefully, that’s good news for the Longhorns’ offense that has scored 100 points in seven games and is averaging a mere 14 points per game.
Johnson County’s 3-4 record includes a pair of one-point wins over Sullivan East 14-13 in the season opener and West Greene 22-21.
Both of those came with senior standout Jared Kimble in uniform.
Kimble is now lost for the season, so trying to fill his void has been difficult. He was perfect on his point-after kicks, and that has been a problem for the Longhorns.
He also was their big-play threat on offense, although Curtis Lowe has emerged as the workhouse over the past two games. Lowe rushed for a career high 106 yards in their 33-6 win over Claiborne County two weeks ago and followed that up with a 150 yards performance at Happy Valley on Friday.
But it’s been Johnson County’s inability to get the ball into the end zone that has prevented them from racking six wins on the year.
The 14-10 loss at Chuckey-Doak has been the most costly defeat so far. They appeared headed for the game-winning touchdown but fumbled the ball inside the 20-yard line late in the game.
They reached the red zone a total of eight times combined in a 12-7 loss to Sullivan North and Friday’s 13-7 defeat at Happy Valley but came away with no points.
Head coach Don Kerley agreed it had been an up and down year so far but hopes his team can find a way to win their last three games and enter into the playoffs with a 6-4 winning record. They will begin that journey at North Greene. It’s a team they know very little about.
“We definitely need to win as many games as we can,” said Kerley. “We can’t feel sorry for them because every game is big for us, and we have to win out. We’ve seen them play a little bit online, but they didn’t trade films with us, so we’ll be trying to fix a lot of things that we need to both on offense and defense. We can’t take anything or anyone for granted.”
The Longhorns will host their final two regular-season games at home, starting with Cloudland next Friday.
Their showdown with Unicoi County will take place on November 1.
Kickoff for the North Greene game is at 7:30 pm.
NOTE: The school is located off Exit 36 toward Knoxville on Interstate 40.