Mountain duel. Part II.
After a thrilling overtime contest in Week 1, Johnson County and Hampton will line up against each other again. Kickoff is set for 7:30 tonight at Hampton’s football field.
In other area contests, David Crockett plays host to South Greene, Elizabethton travels to take on Sullivan South, and Sullivan East is at Sullivan Central.
In smaller-school action, Greeneville has a road game against Alcoa, Happy Valley is at home to battle Abingdon, Va., Unicoi County hits the road to face Gatlinburg-Pittman, Cloudland is the visitor against Greenback, Chuckey-Doak travels to take on Cosby, and North Greene is at home against West Greene.
Johnson County (3-1) handed Hampton (3-1) its only loss of the season, beating the Bulldogs 28-27 in overtime at Mountain City. The Bulldogs went for a 2-point conversion to win, but were stopped short on a running play.
“As a coach if you win the first one, you don’t want to play the second,” said Johnson County head coach Mike Atwood. “But if you lose that first one, you want to play second one.
“But our kids always get up to play Hampton. They are excited and feel like they can win the ballgame. Our kids are confident they can play a good game.”
Hampton head coach Mike Lunsford downplayed the revenge factor.
“It’s just like normal,” said Lunsford. “There isn’t a lot of difference. It’s another football game.”
Moving things down the mountain to Hampton won’t make a sweep any easier, said Atwood.
“It’s hard to win at Hampton,” he said. “It’s tough to play well down there. But we will have a lot of fans there, and that will help a lot.”
Lunsford said his team needs to be better at getting to its offensive destination.
“We need to capitalize on the drive when we get near the end,” said Lunsford. “We had some good drives where we got close and then made some mistakes. We’ve got to finish drives off.”
Johnson County relies on the tough running of Patrick South. He has already toted the rock 97 times in four games while totaling 524 yards rushing.
“The first player that hits him will probably not make the tackle,” said Lunsford. “He runs so hard and gives such good effort. We’ve got to get a lot of people around him.”
Longhorns’ quarterback Warren Kerley is also a threat, completing 59 percent of his passes even though he’s averaging just four attempts per game.
Hampton counters offensively with quarterback Lane Smith, who has accounted for 12 touchdowns.
“I think they throw the ball a little better,” said Atwood. “Their quarterback is a threat to run or throw.”
Atwood said he hopes depth is a factor in the game. Johnson County trailed 21-7 in the third quarter of the first game before rallying for a pair of scores to push the contest into overtime.
“One thing we do have is we play more kids,” said Atwood. “We hope we can wear them down in the second half again.”
Lunsford said, “We got worn out the first game. We’ve got to get in better shape, and play a few more kids.”
Hampton didn’t play last week because of a forfeit victory over Hancock County.
South Greene (1-4) at David Crockett (1-3) — With the remainder of a rugged Big Eight schedule remaining, this amounts to a really important game for the Pioneers.
Crockett will enter as the favorite, and can’t afford to let a win slip away. The Pioneers also are in desperate need of some points. They have totaled just eight in their last three games.
Elizabethton (3-2) at Sullivan South (2-2) — With the Rebels’ potent passing attack capable of putting big points on the board, the Cyclones will likely stay grounded to keep South’s offense off the field.
Boasting a power-speed running back tandem of Ethan Thomas and Terrence Turner, Elizabethton has been able to put together a three-game winning streak. Thomas has 797 yards rushing on the season.
South quarterback Charlie Moore has thrown for 942 yards in four games with an impressive 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Sullivan East (0-4) at Sullivan Central (2-2) — Victories have been elusive for the Patriots this season, but this is one of those matchups where they have a fighting chance.
However, the Cougars are hungry to break a nine-year drought of failing to reach three wins.
Greeneville (2-2) at Alcoa (3-1) — After a pair of losses to start the season, the Greene Devils are looking more like the team that has reached three straight Class 4A state titles games.
However, Greeneville crushed the Tornadoes last year, so revenge could play a key role in this contest.
Abingdon, Va. (1-2) at Happy Valley (1-4) — The Warriors won a close one in this matchup last year, but the Falcons have been putting some points on the board this season.
Abingdon has totaled 82 points while the Warriors have scored just 40 in five games.
Unicoi County (3-2) at Gatlinburg-Pittman (2-2) — It has been a good first half of the season for the Blue Devils, but they will be tested by the Highlanders.
Pittman has won 13 straight games in this series with Unicoi’s last win coming in a 1985 playoff game.
Cloudland (3-1) at Greenback (5-0) — It’s a very tall order for the Highlanders as the Cherokees are rock solid.
In five games, Greenback has allowed just 15 points while scoring 226. That’s an average margin of 45-3.
Chuckey-Doak (3-1) at Cosby (2-2) — A thrilling 34-33 win over Grainger last week put the Black Knights on the fast track for another good season.
This week they will enjoy the role of solid favorite.
West Greene (1-4) at North Greene (4-1) — The Huskies have lost 16 straight games against Greene County opponents, including the heartbreaking 8-7 decision against South Greene a couple of weeks ago.
Could this be the place to finally end the losing streak?