By Tim Chambers
The Longhorns can learn a valuable lesson from me after Friday’s game at North Greene. I love writing sports but I’ve never considered myself to be a photographer.
My motto is to shoot and hope but that got tossed out the window against the Huskies. I spent nearly half the game trying to correct the focus on my camera without very much luck. Things became a blur while trying to get it focused.
That’s what can happen to a banner football season if the Longhorns don’t stay focused on Friday versus Cloudland. Things could get cloudy in a hurry if they don’t come ready to play.
How big is the Cloudland game?
It depends on how you want to measure it. The Highlanders are 7-1 and ranked No. 9 in the latest 1A poll.
Five of their wins have come against Hancock County, Unaka, North Greene, Avery County and Jellico, who have combined to win a total of 7 games versus 34 losses.
It’s a non-conference game but the Longhorns need to stay focused.
The Highlanders knocked off rival Hampton 22-20 in a game that wasn’t decided until the end. It was their first victory of the season that stands out the most.
Cloudland’s 46-42 win over Gatlinburg-Pittman was their signature victory. G-P’s focus got lost because Jordan Coffey created a blur.
The senior ran for 304 yards on 28 carries and six touchdowns.
The Longhorns definitely need to focus on him.
That’s not the only time he has logged big numbers.
Coffey ran for 250 yards and two touchdowns in their 50-20 victory over Jellico on Friday. He now has rushed for 1367 yards on the season and 17 touchdowns. He is averaging over eight yards per carry.
Quarterback Malachi Benfield has thrown for 10 touchdowns, completing 26-of-63 passes for 588 yards.
Tristian Lacy is the leading receiver with 10 catches for 250 and four touchdowns. Josh Blair has rushed for 397 yards and scored nine touchdowns.
Dillon Johnson and Blair are the team’s top defensive players.
“They pretty much do what Hampton does,” said JCHS’ head coach Don Kerley. “They run the ball very well and score a lot points. Jordan Coffey is an excellent football player and they’ve got some other good athletes. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us.”
Cloudland’s focus will be on stopping the pass which they’ve had trouble doing in some recent games. Happy Valley spanked them 43-0 in a game they dominated from start to finish.
The Longhorns should come in well rested after the starters played only one quarter at North Greene.
Losing focus could be costly on Friday if the Longhorns’ focus lies on next week’s Unicoi County game.
Lost would be a chance at finishing the season unbeaten. Losing focus versus Cloudland could mean losing the game.
The Highlanders are a pretty good football team.
Just ask Gatlinburg-Pittman.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 inside of Paul McEwen Stadium.