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Travel will be less for Longhorn football fans

The Johnson County High School Football season will begin with two                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      home games, August 23 and August 30, inside Paul McEwen Stadium                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          in Mountain City, TN. Photos by Tamas Mondovics

 

Tomahawk Talk:
By Tim Chambers
Freelance Writer

Many readers have emailed me asking if I was back covering sports at the Tomahawk. The answer is yes, but with help. It’s a blessing to have Beth Cox taking pictures and writing sports stories. Her talents are off the charts, and we are hoping to improve the sports department immensely over the next few weeks.
I will focus on high school and junior high football while Beth is the mastermind with volleyball. Both of us will work together to bring you golf and youth league football along with some recreational stories.
The question our readers have asked me since arriving back on the scene is, what does our football team look like this year? My response is a simple one.
The Horns will be young and inexperienced at some key skill positions and once again will be unproven. The 11-1 team in 2017 is history and the 9-2 season in 2018 is now in the books.
It should be a fun year for Longhorn fans who will find the schedule to be one in their favor. The travel is not nearly as extensive as it has been in past years.
The Longhorns will open the season with two games at home. They’ll play Sullivan East in the season opener on August 23, and will then host Sullivan North inside of Paul McEwen Stadium on August 30.
North could be one of the favorites to win the Watauga Conference in Class 2-A making that a tough matchup. The Longhorns will travel to Chuckey-Doak on September 6 before taking the week off on the 13th.
The Horns will make their second trip to Greene County on September 20 when they face West Greene in Mosheim, and it gets even tougher the following week.
A trip down to Hampton on September 27 will have Johnson County playing three consecutive away games. They’ll finally return home on October 4 to face Claiborne County at home.
They’ll make a second trip back to Carter County on October 11, when they face Happy Valley in another rival game and will close out their away schedule the following week at North Greene on October 18.
The Longhorns will get a stern test on October 25 when Cloudland comes to Harold Arnold Field. All eyes should be on the regular-season finale.
The Longhorns entertain Unicoi County at home on November 1, in what many prognosticators are predicting to be for the conference championship.
That might be the case, but it’s way too early to tell, and here is why.

Three keys to success for the
2019 Longhorns
Their most significant task is trying to replace 2018 All-State running back and East Tennessee’s leading scorer Nathan Lane along linebacker Tyler Norris who led Northeast Tennessee in tackles and set the schools record for the most ever in a single season and career.
The second key to success is can someone fill the roles of quarterback Troy Arnold and speedster wide receiver Zack Eller.
Arnold was like having a coach on the field and knew how to orchestrate the offense. The Longhorns didn’t turn the ball over much because Arnold knew how to recognize defenses.
The speed of Zack Eller complimented Lane because he was a threat to make big plays at any given moment. The majority of Eller’s touchdowns covered 50 yards or more.
The third key is learning how to win close games. The Longhorns suffered a heartbreaking 20-19 loss to Hampton last year because they didn’t value the football on offense and turned it over at critical times.
But they bounced back and came from behind to defeat West Greene and stole one from Cloudland on the road in Roan Mountain.
The Horns reeled off eight straight wins to close out the regular season before falling to Gatlinburg-Pittman 36-33 in the first round of the playoffs.

Season Outlook
It would be unfair for me to make a prediction at this point. The Horns have two tough league games before their showdown with Unicoi County, and both of them are on the road in Greene County. They also play Happy Valley, Hampton, and Sullivan North in non-conference games and all three will battle it out for the top spot in District 1 2-A. Cloudland returns all of its line and will be favored to win District 1 1-A.
But it all starts with Sullivan East in the home opener.
Tim Chambers can be reached by email at [email protected]