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Longhorns prepare to kick football in high gear

By Beth Cox

Sports Writer

Every year, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) issues a 14-day “dead period” for all athletes in Tennessee. This year the dead period began June 26 and ended July 10.

Coach Don Kerley did not waste time getting his guys back on the field.

The Longhorns started the week at Unaka High School in a 7-7 tournament.

On Tuesday, the boys were back in action, but they traveled to John Battle High School in Bristol, Virginia, this time.

Johnson County came in third place on Tuesday. Richland took the title after defeating Union for the championship. Sullivan East, Lebanon, Chilhowie, and Tazewell were also in the tournament.

Hampton’s 7-7 scrimmage on Saturday was also great for practice since the Longhorns will be playing several teams that competed in the event, including Hampton and Happy Valley. Johnson County came in third behind Hampton and Unaka.

Although there was a champion in each of the 7-7 tournaments, the games are about practicing offensive and defensive skills.  “I like to get my guys in as many 7-7’s as possible,” Kerley said. “It helps with zone defense and offense. It also toughens the team and gives us a little insight into what we are up against.”

The veteran coach is optimistic about how his team will perform in the regular season.  “They get better every day,” he said. “We will have some tough teams, but we are a tough team as well.”

The Longhorns also returned to UVA Wise Friday for the offensive and defensive line camp. Kerley thought his guys learned a lot and looked good on the field.

But, it’s not all work for the team, as they took on some tough little Longhorns on Thursday at football camp.

The high school football team did not shy away from teaching and competing with the younger Longhorns. Kerley and his crew taught the young players some simple fundamentals before some scrimmaging.

The Longhorns had a great time attending the camp this year as well. Chassie Timbs, director of the Little Longhorn football program, thought the football and cheer camp was a great success.

The camp was well attended, boasting of 56 cheerleaders while 86 young, eager students turned out to learn the fundamentals of football.

Timbs is excited about the new season and expects great things for the Little League program.

The Johnson County Youth Sports will host its first annual Jr Sports League Softball Tournament on August 5 and 6.

Please contact Timbs for more information.

As far as the Longhorns, there is no time to relax. 

Kerley has a couple of scrimmages lined up for July 29 and August 5, followed by the annual high school football jamboree on August 12 at Chucky Doak.