By Tim Chambers
No song could have said it better than a classic hit by the Beatles. The 2016-17 sports campaign was a “Hard Day’s Night” for the Johnson County Longhorns.
At times it appeared the teams were “working like a dog” but often our play reflected “we were sleeping like a log.” It definitely was a “long and winding road” that will certainly get better during the 2017-18 campaign.
Football will be the sport that should get things off on the right foot. The Longhorns open the season at home against Sullivan East who lost nearly its entire squad from last season.
The following week they will travel to Hampton which is always a tough encounter. A road game at Happy Valley on October 6 looms big.
No longer will the Longhorns play the likes of Elizabethton, Sullivan South and Tennessee High like in years past.
Conference games against Chuckey-Doak, West Greene, Claiborne, Unicoi County and North Greene all appear winnable. The Horns will play Sullivan Central at home along with East and Cloudland in non-conference games.
The Longhorns return a number of playmakers on offense including quarterback Nathan Arnold, wide receiver Shane Greer and runbacks Gage Hampton and Bud Icenhour.
Hayden Osborne and Jordan Edes will spearhead the defense which showed some stellar play in their spring scrimmage game against Sullivan South.
Some Rebel fans that watched the scrimmage complimented the Longhorns for their play. One observer stated, “I can see them winning a lot of games if they play like that next year.”
Longhorn fans are hoping he’s correct.
Fall will tell the tale.
Basketball getting geared up
The girls kicked off practice at Roan Creek Elementary School on Monday with a new head coach at the helm. Leon Tolley will guide the Lady Longhorns after seven years as head at Hampton.
He starred on the hardwood for the Bulldogs and led them to the state tournament as a player and coach.
He was named MVP of the state tournament in 1983, the only time a player for the state runner-up team has ever received that honor.
His teams compiled an overall record of 156-81 while at Hampton. The Lady Bulldogs reached the state tournament in 2009 and 2013 with the ‘09 squad making the semi-finals.
His teams won three conference titles, two Districts and one Regional crown and twice they made the sub-state.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the Lady Longhorns basketball team.
But expect to see a team that plays hard, is organized and fun to watch.
That should set the tone for the boys who should support one of the best teams in Northeast Tennessee.
The Longhorns return all five starters in Bud Icenhour, Nathan Arnold, Blake Atwood, Jordan Edes and Sean Lewis in addition to key reserve Zack Eller.
Softball gained some valuable experience
Fans shouldn’t gage first year head coach Angela Blevins’ debut on her won-loss record in 2017. Nobody had a younger squad on the field than the one displayed by the Horns.
Late in the season the Longhorns were starting four freshmen and two sophomores. They also knocked off state tournament bound Elizabethton 6-5 and nearly pulled off a second upset before losing 1-0.
Baseball defeated the Cyclones for their biggest win in 2017 and they also knocked off Unicoi County.
The tennis team will feature Taylor and Olivia Cox over the next three years which should be fun to watch.
My crystal ball tells me that 2017-18 will be a much better year for Longhorn fans.
A much better year than two wins over the Cyclones.
Tim Chambers is the sports editor at the Tomahawk. He can be reached by email at [email protected]