By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
Johnson County’s trip to Blountville on Friday could be like walking into a fenced-in yard with a sign warning them to “beware of the dog.”
The No. 9 ranked Longhorns will square off with Sullivan Central who now own a 32-game losing streak that dates back to four seasons ago.
But this Cougar team is a little different from the ones in past years.
That’s because they have a veteran quarterback and some capable weapons that surround him.
Jackson Harrison has been the key so far for Central’s offense.
They led Sullivan North, ranked No. 5 in 2A at one point before falling 30-20. Harrison threw for 230 yards in that game including two touchdown passes to Bryson Crabtree that covered 71 and 52 yards.
Crabtree ended the night with three catches for 145 yards. Harrison scored the other touchdown on a 14-yard run. The duo also had a long touchdown pass wiped off the board due to a penalty.
The Cougars rushed for only 79 yards in the game.
The Cougars were within a whisker of winning their first game in 31 tries two weeks ago but suffered a heart-breaking 28-26 home loss to Chuckey-Doak.
Harrison sparked the ground game with 166 yards rushing on a mere nine carries. One was a 60-yard touchdown run up the gut.
Harrison was quoted as saying that the team had plenty of confidence going into their game with Johnson County.
Harrison also added a 31-yard touchdown run against Doak and threw for two more scores completing 16-of-32 passes for 180 yards.
The Cougars would have won had they prevented the Black Knights from marching 76-yards to score the game winner in the finals seconds. A critical holding call helped keep the drive going.
“They had a really good quarterback and some good receivers,” said JC’s head coach Don Kerley after Friday’s win. “We want to enjoy this one for a day, but we will definitely have to be ready because they can play.”
Horns relying on the big play:
The question is can the Longhorns make enough big plays at Central to win? The Longhorns scored on a pair of touchdown passes that got their offense rolling.
Nathan Lane hauled in a 40-yard TD from Troy Arnold while Zack Eller logged a 70-yarder late in the first quarter.
Special teams played huge in the Longhorns’ win. Lance had a 90-yard kickoff return while Eller tacked on an 85-yarder.
Defense and stopping Harrison will be the key:
Johnson County’s defense held Chuckey-Doak to 35-yards rushing. They’ll need to do the same and more versus Central.
Tyler Norris accumulated 22 tackles against the Black Knights and was able to get pressure on the quarterback. They need that same type of production against Harrison and company from their entire defense.
“We’ll be ready to play on Friday,” added Norris. “We’re not taking anybody for granted from here on out.”
Associated Press Class 3A polls
Team: Record: Pts.
1. Alcoa (14) 3-0 140
2. Covington 3-0 126
3. Red Bank 3-0 109
4. Pearl-Cohn 2-1 88
5. Fairview 2-1 71
6. Upperman 3-0 69
7. Austin East 2-1 63
8. East. Nashville 3-0 49
9. Johnson Co. 2-1 26
10. Milan 2-1 23
Others receiving votes: York Institute 5,
Unicoi County 1