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Football Preview 2019

Friday August 23


Elizabethton Star

a special publication of Elizabethton Newsmedia LLC

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Table of Contents ELIZABETHTON Cyclones........................4-8

HAPPY VALLEY Warriors.....................12-15

HAMPTON Bulldogs....................16-18

UNAKA Rangers......................20-23

CLOUDLAND Highlanders................24-27

JOHNSON COUNTY Longhorns..................28-31

On the Cover Football Preview 2019

Friday August 23


Elizabethton Star

a special publication of Elizabethton Newsmedia LLC

Photo by Ivan Sanders

Friday Night Lights include several key elements including players, cheerleaders, mascots, and the band. Local schools are ready for another great season in 2019.

Star Photos by: Ivan Sanders, Dawn Lambert, Larry N. Souders and Lifetouch Photography- Allen Frost

Layout/Design Robin Johnson

Friday Night Lights High school football so much more than just a football


Well, the time of year is here that everyone starts looking for when the last day of school is completed and the summer months bring a void in the local community of sports activities to attend and that is the kickoff of high school football. For the most part, all the local schools have gone through a rigorous offseason and have hit each other more times than they would want to count. Now, they are ready to line up opposite a jersey of a different color and put to task the things they have worked so hard to learn in daily practice and film sessions. But, high school football is so much more than just the game itself. As I was thinking of a front cover for this year’s football magazine that you now have in your hands, I wanted to incorporate other facets of the Friday Night Lights experience. First, there is a team of young ladies that work just as hard as the football team and that is the school’s cheerleaders. What would a game be without these young ladies and their efforts to keep the fans into the flow of the game with their spirited cheers and stunts that would make any parent quiver seeing their daughter on top of a pyramid or tossed in the air. Secondly, we can’t forget the band that works hard in the summer band camps to bring half time shows to entertain while the teams take a break. 3

These young people are a source of pride to their schools, family and community. The play their hearts out during the contest to let their respective team know they are standing behind them and provide the National Anthem before the start of the game. Lastly, we cannot forget those mascots that during the early portion of the season sweat it out in those heavy mascot outfits but would have it no other way. They love their school and love seeing the kids eyes light up as they pass by. Yes, Friday Night Lights is more than football but ultimately football is what brings all these pieces together as well as the community that comes and pays their hard-earned wages to occupy a seat in the stands every Friday night. Carter County loves its football and its respective team whether its the Cloudland Highlanders, the Unaka Rangers, the Hampton Bulldogs, the Happy Valley Warriors, or the Elizabethton Cyclones. The Elizabethton Star once again is proud to put together our annual Gridiron Magazine with preseason interviews with coaches and team photos of each team and cheer squad. It is our hope that each fan will carry your magazine with you to the games so you can keep up with each player from the game you are attending. We want to wish each team the best in the 2019 season and our prayers are for the safety of all the players, coaches, cheerleaders, band members, mascots, support staff, parents, and fans as you enjoy another season of Friday Night Lights in Carter County!

Identity check…

Cyclones working to discover what team they are going to be in 2019 BY IVAN SANDERS STAR STAFF


oming into the 2019 season, the one unknown for Elizabethton Cyclone head football coach Shawn Witten was precisely what kind of team his Cyclones were going to be for the 2019 season. In 2018, the Cyclones were more a pass-oriented team utilizing playmakers like Corey Russell, Carter Everett, and Evan Perkins to give defensive coordinators way too many headaches. Now those three have moved on and there will be some new faces filling those slots and the question is how to use them to make sure the Cyclones keep moving forward in their quest for a state championship run. “Our identity is unknown,” said Witten during media day. “Going into year 13, every time we have started at this point, we have always known where we are going. “Right now, it’s still a little

Elizabethton head coach Shawn Witten is entering his 13th season with the Cyclones.

unknown. Its kind of who takes control of the helm and we have to make some quick decisions and that’s the thing about football is that you have to create depth. “We have 30 ninth graders. They have only lost one game in two years and they have a lot of expectations and they provide us a lot of depth. “A year ago, we had eight or 4

nine guys that could really touch the ball on any given play and this year it’s down to a handful of guys,” Witten continued. “Our identity is still unknown. Who is going to play certain positions and where the skill guys are going to fall. “We are going to rely on certain guys but really the meat and the bones of our team is the core group of our line of scrimmage play.” With an offseason dedicated to putting in work in the weight room, the Cyclones come into the season with players that have bulked up in weight and muscle that will pay huge dividends during the season. “We feel like we are well equipped and need to wear people down,” Witten said. “We need to use our beef and take what we have done in the weight room and take it to the field. We feel like we are going to be okay. “We have to be an over-aggressive defense forcing turnovers and have to go back to where we were before last season.

2019 Elizabethton Schedule August 23—at Science Hill 30—Open September 6—at Sullivan East* 13—DANIEL BOONE 20—GRAINGER* 27—CHEROKEE October 4—at William Blount 11—at Union County* 18—GREENEVILLE* 25—SULLIVAN SOUTH* November 1— at Sullivan Central* ALL CAPS denotes home game * denotes region games

get acquainted with due to the departure of Everett and Russell. One of the significant additions is senior Cade Maupin who comes to the Cyclones from Dobyns-Bennett during the offseason and can play running back or quarterback. “We have to be balanced—mobile quarterbacks that can be dualthreat players getting the ball out on the quicks and spreading the ball around to two or three receivers and our running backs,” said Witten. “We have some different people back at the running back position. We have Bryson Rollins who is a dual-threat kid that is going to play running back and quarterback. “Morton brings some size to the table that we haven’t had back there in quite a bit. LaDarian Avery is a scatback and we have Cade Maupin that is going to strengthen our skill positions whether it’s at running back or quarterback,” Witten stated. “We have a lot of guys from that area that we feel like can do some things offensively and we have some size and meat—bigger bodies that can take more of a hit. “Rollins with his vision and shiftiness making people miss that’s a lot of what you saw with Corey Russell. “It’s still yet to be seen at the quarterback slot. Whether it’s Rollins or Maupin, one of them is going to play quarterback and the other running back. They may be shifting in and out depending on who is the better fit. “Both of them are great talents. Maupin comes to us with great experience. He has played at a high level, obviously at Kingsport and he brings us a lot of taking command. He’s been there and done that playing in a lot of big games. “We feel like we can keep people off balance with those two,” continued Witten. “They are football players and when the lights come on, they can play. Regardless of who does what, both of those guys are going to be a big part of our offense and they can play both positions.” From the skills player position on offense, the Cyclones will have one of the top receivers in Northeast Tennessee returning as a junior in Parker Hughes.

“We had three senior linemen and with Carter, we wanted to throw the ball a lot. But now, we are going to be back to what Elizabethton use to be.” With just 11 seniors this season, Witten will rely on all of them to lead his young team but feels that the Cyclones most significant improvement will be seen on the line. “There’s no question even with 11 seniors, I think our most improved area is going to be the line of scrimmage,” stated Witten. “We are just another team from a year ago. “We are built from the linebacker, defensive line and offensive line and that is going to be the strength of our football team.” Witten reviewed his defensive unit. “Our most improved area of play has to be our linebacker play between sophomore Blake Stewart, senior Jordan Haynes, senior Remington Tyree, and junior Deuce Morton— they really have to anchor our defense from the linebacker,” said Witten. “We moved Carson Streseman to the defensive line which is going to strength up that position there. “We bring back Joseph Kechter who is going to anchor the inside with Zach A. Hartley and Alex Conley at the defensive end, sophomore Trenton Taylor gives us some big size there so we feel like from the box factor we are stronger and more physical,” Witten continued. “We have to be more demanding from there. We worked hard and spent a lot of time in the weight room, improving those areas. “We have had a lot of sophomore linemen kind of rise and step up. Last year we threw the ball a lot with Carter and the receivers we had but this year our beef package is back. “Cole Morganstern, Conner Johnson, Colby Garland, Wesley Erwin, Owen Slagle, Kechter are back. Our tight ends and H-back in Cameron Trimm, Tyree, and Cameron Smith so we have a lot of people that can rotate in that box,” Witten commented. “That’s where we have got to make the biggest improvement to drive people off the football and be able to get back to the Elizabethton that we are known for.” Offensively, there will be new faces and numbers that fans will have to


Fans will quickly see a difference in Hughes when he takes the field as he has bulked up from hard work in the weight room. “Parker Hughes is really going to be a difference-maker for us,” said Witten. “His work ethic from last year to this year is off the charts. His body frame is different and he is a physical specimen. “He is a lot like the Greeneville receivers from a year ago. He runs with a purpose catching the ball on the outside. He is a very physical runner and is a deep-ball threat. “We have got to get him the football. He can go vertical.” Witten also spoke highly of a couple more receivers that will be expected to bring great things to the table in 2019. “Zach C. Hartley on the other side of the field brings a lot of experience to us opposite Parker so he’s a guy that runs excellent routes,” stated Witten. “Jake Roberts is a sophomore that’s going to be a playmaker. He has powerful hands and can catch the football across the middle. He is going to replace Evan Perkins for us as a slot receiver and a corner. “He has a great feel for the game, a really great football IQ and is sports savvy and does everything right.” The Cyclones also have experience returning on special teams in the foot of senior Jaxson Holly who has big-game experience under his belt from a kicking perspective. “Jaxson Holly is going to be a great kicker for us,” added Witten. “That’s a weapon we really need in field goals, kick-offs, and punting. He is really going to be a weapon his senior year.” As always, the region runs through Greeneville and after playing the Greene Devils close the last couple of years, if the Cyclones can take care of business at Citizens Bank Stadium this season, the playoffs could take a different course. “The league is tough. Greeneville has a 30-game winning streak. They are the cream of the crop,” said Witten. “The biggest thing for us is the first game against Johnson City playing with a lot of young guys on the field and not knowing how they are going to react. “We have to be ready and needed that five extra days of practice. We are going to get better as the season goes. “For us, it’s one day at a time and one practice at a time. Right now, we are very simple. We just have to go out there and play. We have some good coaches who work really hard and I believe the kids are really responding.”

Because so much is riding on your tires.


Cyclone Cheerleaders


2019 Elizabethton Cyclone Football Roster No. 4 5 6 7 8 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 19 20 21 23 24 25 26 27 28 30 31 32 33 34 36 40 44 46 47 47 48 48 50

Name Class Jaxton Holly 12 Cade Russell 9 Cade Maupin 12 Parker Hughes 11 Carson Streseman 12 Josh Sweeney 9 Cameron Trimm 12 Bryson Rollins 10 Jordan Killion 11 Braden Holly 11 Nick Vanover 11 TJ Little 10 Peyton Johnson 9 Conner Blevins 10 Jake Roberts 10 Dalton Mitchell 9 Teddy Orton 9 Zach C. Hartley 12 Deuce Morton 11 Nate Stephens 9 Bryson Davis 10 Hayden Nave 9 Mason Williams 9 Andrew Stevens 9 Sam Fletcher 11 Blake Stewart 10 Sean Smithdeal 9 Isaiah King 10 Jordan Haynes 12 LaDarian Avery 11 Mason Egolf 10 Travis Jarrett 9 Harrison Lane 10 Caleb Johnson 10 Gabe Sturgill 10 Remington Tyree 12 Wesley Shankles 9 Alex Conley 12 Colton Gardener 10 Cole Morganstern11

Ht. 6’0” 5’10” 6’2” 6’1”

Wt. 160 170 190 185


6’1” 5’8” 5’10” 6’0” 6’0” 6’1’ 5’9” 6’0” 6’2” 5’10” 5’10” 5’11” 5’8” 5’11” 6’0” 5’10” 6’2” 6’0” 5’10” 5’10” 6’0” 5’10” 5’8” 5’9” 5’11” 5’11” 5’9” 5’10” 5’10” 6’0” 6’0”

220 145 180 175 170 165 140 140 165 175 175 150 135 165 210 145 160 160 140 145 165 200 135 135 205 205 140 155 160 175 165


6’0” 5’8” 6’1” 5’8” 6’3”

205 160 190 175 250


No. 51 53 54 55 55 56 56 58 59 60 61 66 67 70 72 73 76 77 78 79 80 80 81 82 83 84 87 88

Name Class Denton Gilliam 9 Colby Garland 11 Gabe Barclay 11 Joseph Kechter 12 Reece Culler 9 Jordan Sproles 12 Jacob Whitaker 9 Wesley Erwin 11 Jackson Guinn 9 Owen Slagle 10 Alex Hurley 9 Conner Johnson 10 Grayson Hatfield 10 Colby Solomon 9 Gabe Sexton 9 Dakota Christian 11 Cole Blackwell 10 Caden Draine 9 Sam Bowers 9 Issac Birchfield 9 Zach A. Hartley 12 Bradley Cannon 9 Andrew Lane 9 Dylan McDuffie 9 Tyler Thompson 10 Cameron Smith 11 Jack Farris 9 Cameron Hall 9 Jesse Richardson 10

Ht. 6’2’ 5’10” 5’11” 6’2” 5’11” 5’10” 5’10” 6’2” 6’0” 6’2” 5’10” 6’2” 5’11” 5’9” 6’0” 6’2” 5’10” 6’3” 6’3” 6’1” 6’2” 6’3” 5’9” 6’0” 5’10” 6’3” 5’8” 6’2” 5’8”

Wt. 250 250 245 270 170 240 170 270 220 230 190 240 215 180 160 250 180 195 305 235 210 180 140 165 150 215 145 210 150


Head Coach: Shawn Witten Assistant Coaches - Jeff Pierce, Jordy Harrison, Brian Jenkins, Dave Campbell, Terry Moore, Michael Grindstaff, and Devin Whitehead. Team Chaplain: Michael Koruschak, Team Trainers: Dr. Danny Smith, Dr. Justin Smith, and Dr. Erin Kiser. Support Staff: Howell Woods - Mascot-Cyclone


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Totaling It Up...

Warriors banking on good set of skill position players



osing 12 players to graduation, including the bulk of the front lines is the challenge Happy Valley will have to sort through in 2019, but the team and it’s coaches are banking on a great set of skill position players to provide an offense that will be hard to stop. Happy Valley comes off an up and down 5-6 season in which they went 3-1 in conference but fell in the opening round of the playoffs to Oneida 23-7. In 2018 the Warriors had a hard time finding a quarterback and depended on a punishing run game for its offense. That took a hit when junior

Happy Valley head coach Jason Jarrett is entering his fifth year over the Warriors.

speedster tailback Will Tittle went down with a wrist injury leaving the offense to running back / quarterback Dakota Cochran and junior Jordan Campbell.

“We have a total of nine seniors but only six of those have played,” Warriors head coach Jason Jarrett said. “The class is small in number but they make up for it with heart, desire and athletic ability. “Obviously, with only six experienced seniors at playing high school ball, we are going to rely heavily on them — a lot of new faces in a lot of new places.  “Noah Stevens and Eli Ayers are right now getting equal reps at the quarterback position and we feel confident that both players bring a different skill set but we feel confident that we can win with what they bring to the table.” With Stevens at quarterback, the Warriors get a senior with experience through not at the QB position, but


2019 Happy Valley Schedule August 23—CLOUDLAND 29—CHUCKEY DOAK September 6—HAMPTON* 13—at Unicoi Co. 20—at Cosby* 27—at Unaka October 4—Open 11—JOHNSON CO. 18—at Sullivan North* 25—TRINITY ACADEMY November 1-at South Greene* ALL CAPS denotes home game * denotes region games

with the confidence and throwing ability to make HV a scoring threat from anywhere on the field. “I’m just going to go out and give my best every game and help everyone else get better,” Stevens said. “We have a great set of receivers here and Will is a great weapon out of the backfield. “I think my teammates have confidence in me and it feels natural. The run game will be good and all my receivers will fight and go up to get the ball.” The offensive line is where it all begins and coach Jarrett has tabbed senior Cameron Slone at left tackle, junior Kamden Richardson at left guard, sophomore Drew Turner at center, sophomore Mason Hicks at right guard and junior Alex Lunceford at right tackle. “Cameron Slone is a senior and threeyear starter and I look for him to anchor the left tackle spot,” Jarrett said. “Mason Hicks at right guard has been a bright spot. He plays with leverage.  “Drew Turner at the center is a sophomore and this will be his first year on varsity. He played a lot on the second team last season. “I expect big things from Kam Richardson and Alex Lunceford who – like a lot of the kids on this team – is big and physical.” Tittle was headed for a big season stepping in for Brayden Sams at quarterback, but that experiment did not work out as Tittle had trouble with the shotgun snap, fumbling five times in one game before giving way to Ayers. Tittle thrived at tailback until his injury sidelined him and the running back duties fell to senior Cochran.  Cochran delivered in the clutch with a big game against South Greene that propelled the Warriors to the playoffs. “I’m healed up and hit the weight

room hard this offseason,” Tittle said. “I think our line will be pretty good and give us lots of running lanes. I think we can be dangerous. “Our wide receivers are very talented and fast and will all fight for the ball. I would love to see us make a run at the fourth round (state tournament).” Cochran rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns and completed 2-of5 passes for 36 yards and Campbell had seven carries for 76 yards and a touchdown as HV blanked the Rebels 21-0. Tittle had a big game against Cosby last season rushing for 139 yards before being injured. Ayers had his best day passing as he completed 5-of-11 passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns as HV ran away with a 44-6 victory. “We expect a lot from Will this season,” Jarrett said. “He will be our lead back, along with Jordan Campbell and he can give us a lot with his skill set.  “We will probably be expecting more from him on defense where he will be the outside linebacker. He has hit the weight room and put on good muscle weight and I expect a good senior season from him.” The wide receiver corps will see junior Blake Young on one side and senior Ty Pierce on the other with junior Gabe Nickles in the slot. However, players like sophomore Landon Babb, sophomore Andrew Little and junior Eli Phillips will get significant playing time to keep players fresh. The defensive front will look like this with Slone at left end, Richardson and Hicks inside and Babb at right end. Cameron Cochran will vie for playing time inside as will Turner with Phillips pushing Babb for time at end. The linebackers left to right feature Tittle at OLB, with Roberts and Timmy Mounts on the inside at MLB and Little at ROLB.  13

Sophomore Dylan Woodby and sophomore Cayden Campbell will backup the inside backers while junior Matthew Bahn and Campbell backup up on the outside. In the secondary, the Warriors will utilize Stevens and Pierce at corner with junior Blake Young playing the lone safety. Ayers will backup Stevens at one corner spot while Nickles backs Pierce. Sophomore Blake

Garmon backs up Young at safety. “We still have a lot of work to do before we strap on the chinstraps for real,” Jarrett said. “But we have some good players here, Jordan Campbell runs hard and has produced every time he has been called upon. “Ty Pierce has great speed and I have a lot of confidence in our skill position players to create mismatches and just compete at a high level.”

2019 Happy Valley Football Roster No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 15 16 17 20 22 23 24 30 32 33 34 40 43 44 50 51 52 54 55 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 70 71 72 74 77 79

Name Class Noah Stevens 12 Timmy Mounts 11 Andrew Little 10 Will Tittle 12 Ty Pierce 12 Blake Young 11 Blake Garmon 10 Gabe Nickles 11 Spencer Hall 10 Jason Thomas 10 Raegan Ensor 9 Eli Ayers 11 Antonio Martin 10 Pedro Colunga 9 Matthew Bahn 11 Luke Roberts 12 Jordan Campbell 12 Eli Phillips 11 Landon Babb 10 Dylan Woodby 10 Micah Bellamy 9 Cayden Campbell 10 Bronson Norman 9 Logan Groom 9 Cameron Slone 12 Maliek Clark 9 Malachi Clark 9 Alex Caldwell 10 Peyton Blevins 12 Ethan Townsend 9 Mason Hicks 10 Michael Fisher 11 Alex Lunceford 11 Cameron Cochran 10 Justin Pearell 9 Gavin Way 9 Drew Turner 10 Hayden Walls 9 Matt Smith 10 Peyton Primeau 11 Trayvor Hyatt 12 Kamden Richardson 11 Raymond Kempton 12 Dillan Street 10


Head Coach: Jason Jarrett Mascot: Warrior Colors: Maroon, Gray, & White. Assistant Head Coach: Greg Hyder. Assistant Coaches: Chuck Babb, Todd Caldwell, Adam Copeland, Randy Ferrell, Jim Greene, Steve McKinney, Brandon Mottern. Managers: Claire Johnson and Marissa Sehrer.



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Looking for consistency… Hampton has all the elements for solid season in 2019


seniors which means we’ve got quite a bit of experience back. “We’ve got a group of linemen s August rolls around in without a senior but all of those guys Carter County, it means played last year as freshmen and two things for high school sophomores which should make a students—the dreaded huge difference for us. start of a new school year and the “We’ve got several outstanding begin of an exciting new football skill players that deserve to touch season. the football and I think the hardest But for many teams, their prepathing right now is we need to get the ration for the next season started ball to everyone that needs to get the much farther back in the year. ball and as a coach that is a good One team that has been preparproblem to have.” ing for what they hope will be Speaking about key players that another successful season is the Hampton head coach Michael will make an impact on this season, Hampton Bulldogs. Lunsford will be entering his Lunsford added, “Conor Jones will After an outstanding season in fourth season with the Bulldogs. be a big key. He’s a sophomore and 2018 where the Bulldogs went 4-1 ing that game as motivation to push will be the starting quarterback and in conference play, Hampton looks strong safety this year. to build off of last year and keep the themselves harder and go deeper “We’ve got a lot of high expectainto the playoffs. train rolling. tions for him this year and we know After speaking with the Bulldogs Since their season ended last he’s going to have a few growing head coach Michael Lunsford about year after a heartbreaker against pains here and there but he’s an exhis expectations for the year after the Rockwood High School 7-6 in the first round of the TSSAA playoffs, the tough loss in the first round a season ceptional athlete and an exceptional young man and we believe that he’ll ago, he said, “Well we only lost five Bulldogs will most definitely be us16


2019 Hampton Schedule August 23—at Gatlinburg-Pittman 30—at Unicoi Co. September 6—at Happy Valley* 13—CLOUDLAND 27—JOHNSON CO. October 4—at Sullivan North* 11—at Cloudland 18—SOUTH GREENE* 25—UNAKA November 1—COSBY* ALL CAPS denotes home games * denotes region games

do a great job for us. “Caleb Oaks is another one— he’s coming into this season a threeyear starter at fullback, running back, and linebacker,” continued Lunsford. “He’s going to be a Mr. Do-It-All for us this year. “Isaiah Greenwell is going to be a heck of a player for us, he’s worked anywhere from quarterback, wide receiver, running back, safety, and cornerback. He’s another one that can do a lot of things for us. “Gage Chambers, Jonah Jones, Max Cash, Aidan Vines, Morgan Lyons—we’ve got several players that just need the football and this is one of those teams where I don’t believe there is just one superstar player on the roster. “There are many talented kids that we have playing this year.” After being asked about what they need to do this season to come out and build on their success from last year, Lunsford elaborated, “Well we just need to be more

consistent. You play a pretty tough schedule like we do, it’s hard to be able to perform at the same level every week, especially being teenage boys. “But consistency is going to be our key and I think the experience we have and the fact that our guys have been here before will tremendously help us out with that.” One thing about high school football is that you only get to experience it for four years. Senior Matt Hughes was asked about what the emotions are like going into the last season of a high school career. “It is so bittersweet, I’ve always had great memories on this team starting with freshman year when Adam McClain and Seth Anderson played as seniors, from my sophomore year with Jason Russell and Hunter Davenport leading the team, to the memories I’ve already made this season with my teammates and I hope we can keep the memories rolling as long as we can.”

2019 Hampton Bulldogs Football Roster No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 15 16 18 20 21 22 23 24 25 28 31 33 34 39 47 48 49 52 55 57 58 59 60 61 63 64 65 71 72 74 77 78 82 84

Name Class Isaiah Greenwell 12 Caleb Royston 10 Michael Harrison 10 Conor Jones 10 Austin Bentley 9 Max Cash 12 Jonah Jones 12 Austin Miller 9 Elijah Rhinehart 12 Tyler Dejoode 12 Haden Birchfield 12 Austin Hyder 9 Elijah Smith 12 Gage Chambers 12 Jonathan Greenwell 9 Dylan Moffit 12 Matt Hughes 12 Macon Barden 12 Aidan Vines 11 Morgan Lyons 10 Charlie Brummitt 11 Cory McKinney 9 Johnny Douglas 9 Levi Lunsford 9 Ty McElyea 9 Tristan Lipford 11 Evan Mann 9 Ryan Crumley 10 Ashton Hardin 10 Andon Winters 10 David Grindstaff 11 R.D. Ward 11 Hunter Perkins 10 Caleb McKinney 11 Elex Moffit 10 Michael Purdam 10 Zach Beam 10 Adam Larimer 9 Douglas Tolley 11 James Tolley 11 Aubrey Wenger 11 Nathan Weatherby 10 Malakhi Guess 9 McKinley Kuhn 10 Exavier Buchanan 10 Dustin Lance 9

Ht. 6’0” 5’9” 6’0” 6’0” 6’0” 6’5” 6’3” 5’6” 5’7” 5’6” 5’10” 5’8” 6’1” 6’1”

Wt. 170 150 150 170 200 230 150 130 140 150 165 125 160 170


6’0” 5’6” 6’1” 6’1” 5’11” 6’2” 5’7” 5’5” 5’9” 5’6” 6’0” 5’8” 5’9” 5’7” 5’9” 6’0” 5’11” 6’1” 5’10” 5’10” 5’3” 6’0” 6’0” 5’8” 6’1” 6’4” 5’3” 6’1” 5’6” 6’0” 6’0” 5’10”

190 165 200 175 180 190 140 130 125 180 200 135 135 190 185 200 250 225 220 215 160 240 270 370 270 265 160 320 245 310 185 160


Head Coach: Michael Lunsford Mascot: Bulldog Colors: Blue & White 17

Bulldog Cheerleaders With Hampton’s offensive playstyle being a run-based game, having a strong offensive line is major in deciding the difference between winning and losing. When asked about the importance of both the offensive and defensive line, junior lineman R.D Ward said, “It all starts up front, if you don’t pick up your blocks then you won’t be able to move the ball. “You need to be able to create holes for the running back and create a pocket for the quarterback.

If you can’t execute upfront, then the rest of the offense won’t be able to do their jobs. “And on the defensive side of the ball, if you can’t fill holes and create pressure, then it will become a lot harder to stop the opposing offense.” Hampton will be looking toward sophomore quarterback Conor Jones to lead the team on Friday nights. When asked about the importance of being able to take charge and lead the offense, Jones answered “At Hampton, we have high expectations

every year so there is some pressure but that’s why I do it. “It puts into perspective a whole new role as far as a leader goes.” With Jones having that experience before the season begins is vital, heading into a new campaign. Jones elaborated on that, saying, “I feel like I’ve definitely got the speed of the game down so it will be a lot calmer for me and having some experience also helps the other guys on the field trust me more.”


The Hampton Bulldogs are excited to get back on the field on Friday nights and are definitely determined to continue to build on their success from last year. With some revenge in their hearts after their loss in round one of the playoffs last year, the Bulldogs are looking to make a deep run into the playoffs in 2019. Their season kicks off on August 23rd as they travel to GatlinburgPittman High School to take on the Highlanders.

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Earning it the hard way… Rangers doing things right way to build bright future


bought in to understanding this is going to be a hard, difficult, timeconsuming process and they have been working their tails off,” Bennett hen O’Brien Bennett continued. took over the reins of “That shows a level of maturity the Unaka Rangerand leadership they have amongst football program, he themselves that is uncommon.” knew that he had a program of hunThe Rangers didn’t start the progry kids that wanted to taste success cess of improvement on the field but that other schools in Carter County they choose to commit themselves to had already been feeding on. hitting the weights in earnest to build Bennett didn’t bring an easy plan their bodies to be able to handle the to get the Rangers to that level but he did come with one that if he could sell Unaka head coach O’Brien physicality that the sport brings. Bennett feels that his team has it to his players he knew it would take Bennett is entering his third seaproven they are sincere in their the young men on Stoney Creek to a son over the Rangers. commitment saying, “We run all level that they haven’t been. offseason 80 to 90 percent attendance It’s been an arduous task, but Ben- overnight thing. from January to now where kids have “We are not going to become nett is now seeing the results starting state contenders over night magically. doctor’s appointments, homework to pay off for his program. and things like that. We are running There is no magic football plays or “We had a really good offseason great attendance in our offseason anything like that and you tell them and have had a couple of good offworkout program. seasons in a row,” said Bennett. “Our that you are going to have to work “Our weight numbers have kids are really buying into the process hard day in and day out and it’s going significantly improved over the last to take time, that’s a tough sell. and it’s tough because when you tell year so I am looking at us being a But give our kids credit as they a kid that this is not going to be an



2019 Unaka Schedule August 23—at North Greene 30—COSBY September 6—HANCOCK CO.* 13—at Claiborne 20—at Jellico* 27—HAPPY VALLEY October 4—CLOUDLAND* 11—Open 18—at Rye Cove,VA 25—at Hampton November 1—at Sunbright ALL CAPS denotes home games *denotes region games

lot more stronger and physical than we have been due to the fact that our kids have brought into the program so much.” From the field perspective, the Unaka coaching staff has been working hard to get a quarterback in place to step in for graduated two-time All-State performer John Ramsey who put up impressive numbers over the last two seasons. “Replacing John Boy (Ramsey) is going to be tough and I am not going to say replace him necessarily,” added Bennett. “We are going to be a little bit different with our identity as a team. “We are going to put kids in position to make plays and try to maximize their abilities. “We have two guys competing and we are probably going to use them both because they have different skill sets. “One of them is Daniel Shearl who is a sophomore,” continuedBennett. “Last year he recorded six interceptions from his free safety position and we only moved him to free safety half way through the season. “He’s a very good athlete and is a baseball player who has a good arm and is also a smart kid. He has picked up the offense and being as athletic as he is allows us to do a lot of things offensively. “The other kid that is competing is Landon Ramsey, JohnBoy’s brother, and he is a very intelligent young man that’s going to be a very good football player for us. “He is a freshman and when you ask a freshman to step out on the field as a leader it’s tough.” Bennett said that a lot of the decision on who will go under center each week will be determined by their opponent and what they are looking to achieve during the course of the contest. “We will try to highlight over the course of the week and over the course of the drive to take advantage of what our opponents will give us. Again, we want to put them into a position to be successful,” stated

Bennett. “We tell our quarterbacks to be on time and on target. We give them a lot of green lights to make decisions and we want to put those decisions in our quarterback’s hands as much as possible.” With two young quarterbacks, the Unaka head coach feels alittle bit better by the fact that the line that will be in front of the signal callers to keep the defensive pressure off are experienced and have gone through the fire. “They will have an experience line to start behind,” Bennett stated. “Guys like Colby Jones who has started 20 football games since his freshman year and he is a junior now. “He has already started more football games than most do in their career. Nathaniel Oakes returns as a starter. Jordan Day and Mark Nealon return as starters. “Logan Taylor has stepped up and had a big year in the weight room as well as Cody Drew who came off the basketball court who has nice feet and a pretty mean attitude up front. “These guys have been in the weight room and really have gotten stronger.” Bennett briefly reviewed a few of his offensive players that are expected to help carry the Ranger load. --Logan Benway at running back had over 900 total yards last season both rushing and receiving so he is another guy who has worked his tail off in the weight room and has gotten a lot stronger. --Devin Ramsey returns at a receiver and had over 500 yards receiving as a freshman last year. --Shearl when he is not at quarterback he will be split out at a wide receiver because he is too great a threat to keep on the sideline. --Austin Drew is a new comer from basketball who will be playing receiver. He is big and strong enough to take short passes and take it the distance. --Nick Shell is a phenomenal weight room kid and probably the fastest we have on the team has 21

come a long way in becoming a wide receiver. He is strong enough to break tackles and it has really started to click for him. --Nick Bowers is a guy that is another weight room kid who is big, fast, strong, and tough and when you throw him the ball it sticks. He can be a threat on the ground as well. He is a luxury to have that we can move around. --Harley Berry has stepped up during 7-on-7 who is raw but is very talented at wide receiver as a freshman. --Drew Smith is real good in the weight room. He’s like a little missile. He is about 5’9” 185 pounds and can accelerate from 0 to 60 in a blink of an eye. He will help out a lot on defense as well this year. Even though the Rangers have been progressing, Bennett says there is still a lot of work to get where his team is pushing toward. “The big thing for us is just how far we have come strength-wise. Our kids are buying into the process and because of that they are becoming better football players,” Bennett added. “We still have a long way to go and our kids know that. “In an instant gratification world where it’s easier to go out and get that gratification right now doing other things that are competing with us for these kids or if you love football going out and creating a Madden dynasty and winning a Super Bowl in year one sitting on the couch you can

get instant gratification,” Bennett continued. “Ultimately, those things don’t offer the long-term reward.You don’t just reap things over night. “You don’t go plant corn and go out the next morning and gather you some lunch. You reap what you sow but after you sow you have to tend what you sow, then you will reap more than what you sow.” With a Class A school, a coach can’t afford to lose a player however Bennett recognizes that the game isn’t for everyone and the work ethic that is expected takes much commitment by both coaches and players. “We work the kids hard in the summer and we don’t cut players but a lot of times they decide football is not for them and they move on,” Bennett said. “We are going to approach everything we do like a championship program. “We are going to approach the North Greene game like we are playing for a state title. “Championship teams do championship things and win championship rings. We are going to do things like a championship team and it’s going to take time and hard work but we are going to get to that level. “We want to make sure that we are getting our players and our coaches ready to compete in the playoff games. We want to make history andto do that we have to match the physicality of those teams.”


2019 Unaka Rangers Football Roster

No. 1 2 3 4 5 7 8 10 11 13 14 15 20 21 22 23 25 31 32 33 40 51 52 55 56 60 62 63 65 75 76 77 82

Name Logan Benway Logan Fulton Devin Ramsey Drew Smith Devon Bush Hunter Brown Austin Drew Daniel Shearl Nick Shell Landon Ramsey Kaleb Gonzalez Harley Berry Jamol Blamo Charlie Darby Sandra Darby Ryan Peters Nick Bowers Johnny Douglas Matthew Erickson Darian Lash Takoda Freeman Logan Taylor Jordan Day Noah Carden Mark Nealon Nathaniel Oakes Colby Jones Cody Drew Aaron Tipton Liam Cyrus Austin Fair Nathan Painter Trevor Yates

Class 12 12 10 10 12 11 12 10 11 9 9 9 9 11 11 9 12 9 11 11 9 10 11 10 11 11 11 10 9 11 11 9 9

Ht. 5’9” 5’3” 5’7” 5’10” 5’7” 5’5” 5’11” 5’11” 5’11” 5’8” 5’2” 6’0” 5’9” 5’8” 5’7” 5’10” 5’8” 5’9” 5’6” 6’1” 5’10” 6’0” 6’0” 6’2” 5’8” 5’10” 5’11” 5’10” 6’2” 5’7” 5’10” 5’10” 5’5”

Wt. 161 98 118 179 125 101 189 159 170 173 113 132 150 129 194 160 174 125 136 154 124 194 184 190 215 233 223 196 304 375 271 163 123


Head Coach - O’Brien Bennett Mascot- Ranger Colors- Maroon, White, Baby Blue Assistant Coaches: Def. Coord.-Zach Naylor, WR/DB Special Teams Coach-Jake Jones, LB/RB Coach-Hunter Buchanan, OL/DL Coach-Brayden Buckles, Gameday and Academic Coordinator-Aaron Cross

Ranger Cheerleaders


A new era…

Cloudland looks to continue winning ways under White BY IVAN SANDERS STAR STAFF


hen the Cloudland Highlanders step onto the field at Happy Valley High School on August 23rd, it will not only be the first game of the season for the Highlanders but the first game of head coach Glenn White’s era at the helm of the program. Not that White has not been around the program as he was Coach Mike Lunsford assistant Cloudland head coach Glenn coach, but now the games are White is entering his first year as the leader of the Highlanders. more meaningful as White must pick up the mantle and keep pressing the team forward despite is these kids love to hit each other and they get after it. We have had fewer numbers. some really aggressive practices “We are right about 27 playand that is their forte and we have ers,” White said. “I am going to to do that to have a good practice. attribute that to not having a That’s the big positive.” junior high team last season. We White will not be starting have about three freshmen and from scratch as one of the most should have about nine more significant pieces that had made freshmen but I think that can be the Highlanders successful in the fixed in the future. “The biggest asset that we have past two seasons return in the of-

fensive line that made life easy for Jordan Coffey before he graduated last season. “We have inserted Logan Johnson as our center. He has been here for three years and is an exceptional young man and works hard. This will be his first year as a starter,” White stated. “Then at right guard, we have Gary Julian and our right tackle is Jed Childress. At left guard will be Eli Presswood and the left tackle is Dave Miller. “Those four were the blockers the last two years in 2017 and 2018 that allowed Jordan Coffey to get 4,000 yards rushing. They are the real deal and are very good. Those four could play for any school—that’s how good they are,” continued White. “That is our strength. I am pleased with the way they are playing. Of course, they have to play on the other side of the football too and that’s just the way it is in a Class A school.” With the graduation of Malachi Benfield at the quarterback slot,


2019 Cloudland Schedule August 23—at Happy Valley 30—SOUTH GREENE September 6—Open 13—at Hampton 20—at Hancock Co.* 27—AVERY CO. October 4—at Unaka* 11—HAMPTON 18—JELLICO* 25—at Johnson Co. November 1—SULLIVAN NORTH ALL CAPS denotes home games * denotes region games

a new field general steps under center this season and White has elected to take the proverbial ‘if it’s not broke then don’t fix it’ mentality into the 2019 season. “Hunter Shell has emerged as our starting quarterback,” White said. “He is doing a really good job. We decided to stay with our offensive brand that Coach Lunsford ran. “We have nine of those 11 back from the last couple of years and had a 4,000 rusher and averaged 40 points a game so it just wasn’t too smart to change it at this point. “We have Tristain Lacey at receiver and he will be in the backfield as well,” continued White. “Hunter Blair will be at fullback and he is just tough. Seth Birchfield as a sophomore will be in that mix as well as a fullback. “We have Connor Birchfield that will be our scat back. I call him Doug Flutie. He is something. We need to get him in space and get him the football. “Bentley Gilbert came out is a basketball player and is a junior and is emerging as an outstanding receiver. That gives us two good receivers along with Lacey.” The summer practice was especially tough on Cloudland as players were doing what high school kids do in the summer in working and vacating with their families. White said that once the team can be together cohesively, then he looks to build on a few things offensively. “We have Colin Morgan and Coy Laney as tight ends. Once we can get them here, there is always something going on with families—vacations or something that we can’t get them all together right now but once they get here and we can get them involved in the offense, then it can emerge as a tight end offense hopefully,” White stated. “So you are looking at Shell, Lacey, Birchfield, Blair, Gilbert—

we want to get those the football and I feel if we spread it around like that we will have a potent offense. The last two years, we have had a potent offense. “I fully expect us to do that with the biggest key is not to get hurt. But, our practices have been very aggressive and no one has been hurt yet.” On the defensive side of the football, White has seven to eight returners coming back from the 2018 season and looks to keep everything status quo in regards to their defensive scheme as well. “The strength on defense is that we kept our defensive scheme from last year,” said White. “We have seven to eight coming back from last year that played and I think our strength is going to be our aggressiveness. “We are very aggressive and that’s a positive.” The Highlanders will have their hands full this season particularly in the fact they have to play Hampton twice during the season in what everyone knows is a bare-knuckle, knockdown and drag out game as both schools get after each other. “Well, I have never played them (Hampton) twice. When I was at Unicoi Co., I dropped them because they were always so tough. I think that in the 90s they played twice,” stated White. “It’s a $6,000 gate so Hampton gets a $6,000 gate and I get a $6,000 gate. The teams that you want to play to give you a little breather don’t want to play you. “Coach Lunsford set the schedule but he was always in communication with me. He did about the best he could do,” White continued. “I don’t think that I want to play them twice again unless we just have to. They are double our numbers but this bunch doesn’t care. They are already talking about the Hampton game. “That’s a good attitude to have. 25

It’s going to be a physical, tough game. We got after them pretty good and it was a close game.” With only four teams in the region—Jellico, Unaka, Hancock Co., and Cloudland, White said that he expects the Unaka Rangers to be a tough obstacle for the Highlanders this season. “Coach (O’Brien) Bennett at Unaka— I have watched him and his teams and he does everything right. He is sharp and his kids are sharp and they keep improving there. I think they are going to be the biggest challenge to us,” White stated. “I don’t know much about Jellico or Hancock. The last three seasons against them we have done pretty much what we wanted to do. “But Unaka is a different animal. I think he is doing an exceptional job there and they have accepted him there and they need to allow him to build a program there.”

2019 Cloudland Football Roster No. 1 3 4 6 7 9 14 17 19 21 24 25 34 40 44 50 54 57 58 66 72 73 74 75 76 87

Name Gage McKinney Chase Shell Seth Birchfield Hayden Singleton Hunter Shell Connor Birchfield Bentley Gilbert Damian Black Levi Carway Maverick Simmerly Hunter Blair Tristain Lacey Coy Laney Noah Stout Colin Morgan Jed Childress Landon Johnson Gary Julian Logan Johnson Dave Ramey Dave Miller Jacob Isaacs Devon Ward Jacob Street Eli Presswood Colby Tolley

Class 9 10 10 11 12 12 11 12 10


10 12 12 10 11 10 12 10 12 12 12 12 10 9 9 12 12




Cloudland Cheerleaders Best of Luck to all Area Football Teams!


Adding to the building…

Longhorns look to add to winning foundation already in place BY IVAN SANDERS STAR STAFF


fter taking his share of bullets in the early part of his five-year coaching stint, Johnson County head coach Don Kerley is hoping that year number six will continue to reflect and improve on the previous two seasons where the Longhorns have built a winning tradition in Mountain City. “We like winning and everybody does but nobody is going to give it to us and we have to earn it every time that we go out there,” Kerley said. If that is to happen, Kerley readily admits that several players are going to have to step up and fill the big shoes left by seniors that graduated off last season’s squad. “Well, we definitely have to step it up because we lost some good players last year,” Kerley stated. “All of our seniors were re-

everybody,” added Kerley. “We got everyone back but one on the offensive and defensive side of the ball so that’s going to be a plus hopefully. “If we can get some movement up front, I think that we will be okay.” Kerley is looking to fill a void at the quarterback slot as Troy Arnold graduated last season. “Troy Arnold was our quarterback last year and it’s probably going to be junior Stacy Greer this year. I would like to have somebody for two years if I can. Troy Longhorn head coach was a good leader last year and Don Kerly. is going to be hard to replace,” ally good last year so we have got Kerley said. The ‘Horns also lost Nathan replace them. Lane, who was the go-to guy that “We have a lot of kids that led the team offensively. Kerley played last year and that’s good knows that it’s hard to replace but we have got to have some someone the caliber of Lane. leadership from our seniors and “We will be by committee this work hard.” year instead of Nathan Lane last One of the critical factors that will determine how the ‘Horns roll year,” Kerley said. “We will have this season is an experienced line. Sam Mann, who I think will have a break out year. Greer at quarter“Depth always is a factor for 28

2019 Johnson County Schedule August 23—SULLIVAN EAST 30—SULLIVAN NORTH September 6—at Chuckey Doak* 13—Open 20—at West Greene* 27—at Hampton October 4—CLAIBORNE CO.* 11—at Happy Valley 18—at North Greene* 25—CLOUDLAND November 1—UNICOI CO.* ALL CAPS denotes home games * denotes region games

back can run the ball really well. “Jared Kimble, Jisaiah Webster, and Curtis Lowe—we have several that I think can run. They are good-sized kids so we should be fine.” Defensively, Johnson County has moved some players around to fill in gaps but needs someone to step up and take the leadership role to bond the unit together. Kerley is hoping that Lowe will take the reins and lead the group. “We moved Lowe to middle linebacker and we have to replace Tyler Norris. Lowe actually played defensive line for us last year and he was undersized but he did really well so he should be the leader of the defense,” stated Kerley. “Kimble will play safety and is going to have to step it up and play great there. Webster has looked really good at linebacker for us. All those kids have played but they need to be leaders for us and replace what we lost.” Winning is contagious and the Longhorns have been enjoying the taste of success on the gridiron making it a recent habit of reaching the playoffs. When asked about the adage of success breeding success, Kerley said that his players are focused on doing what it takes to keep the momentum going in Mountain City. “We talk about it all the time,” Kerley commented. “We want to build on what we did last year. We lost two games by three or four points and it could have gone the other way. “It was just our mistakes that lost the game for us. We definitely want to keep winning and do well

in the playoffs. “This group is capable if they stay away from injuries, work hard, and come together.” When it comes to the region slate, no one team has a greater advantage over the other according to Kerley coming into the 2019 season and each game could almost be a coin flip as to who the winner will be. “West Greene didn’t make the playoffs last year and it was a 14-7 game in the third quarter here and we hadn’t moved the ball at all so they played us about as good as anybody,” stated Kerley. “Of course Unicoi Co. has some top threats back in the Lewis kid and the quarterback. I expect it to be pretty much wide open. “Chuckey Doak has some good running backs coming back and a lot of teams have their quarterbacks coming back. It will come down to injuries and who plays well at the time.” Kerley was asked about how the quarterback can affect the outcome of a contest since so many did have returning starters. “If you have coached a quarterback for a while, you can get on the same page with the coach a lot quicker,” Kerley said. “A lot of times a quarterback has to tell somebody what to do in the huddle. If he is a young guy that doesn’t happen but if he is an older guy that happens. “A quarterback makes a huge difference at the high school level.” The Longhorns open the 2019 slate on August 23rd at home against the Sullivan East Patriots.

Good Luck Longhorns! 29

2019 Longhorn Roster No. 1 3 5 7 11 13 15 16 17 18 20 21 22 24 25 26 27 33 44 45 52 54 55 56 58 59 60 62 64 66 67 70 71 72 74 76 81 82 85 88 30

Name Class Curtis Lowe 12 Stacy Greer 11 Sammy Walters 10 Will Henson 12 Danny Medley 12 Dalton Brown 10 Joseph Fox 11 Grinnan Walker 9 Nathan Mink 12 Jenna Horner 11 Nate Rice 10 Cory Neely 10 Ethan Bower 11 Jared Kimble 12 Aiden Walker 11 Sam Mann 11 Tyrone McFadden 12 Jisaiah Webster 12 Ethan Icenhower 10 Andrew Dugger 12 Trevor Henson 10 Aden Sluder 9 Jamal Scott 12 Gavin Wilson 10 Luke Osborne 12 Colt Moody 12 Jacob Barnes 9 Logan Gilley 11 Shawn Perkins 10 Nathaniel Sumerow 10 Jacob Earp 10 Jason Faulks 9 John Stout 10 Ricky Fenner 11 Connor McNutt 11 Lucas Walters 12 Donnie Curd 10 Stephen Bunn 12 Kenneth Dunfee9 AJ McDaniel 11


Head Coach: Don Kerley Mascot: Longhorn Colors: Maroon and White

It’s Good! Football Time in East Tennessee.

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