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Key returners for Unaka bring promise to Stoney Creek

Tanner Cook • Aug 23, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Youthful will the word of the season for the Unaka Rangers in 2019. The team boasts just five seniors, but they all play key positions.

Logan Fulton and Logan Benway will be big threats in the backfield. Fulton racked up over 1,200 all-purpose yards last year and Benway racked up nearly 800. Nick Bowers will also play a key role after racking up over 900 all-purpose yards as well for the Rangers, but his biggest role will be on the defensive side as the middle linebacker.

The biggest hole to fill will be replacing the school’s all-time leading passer and “Mr. Do Everything” John Ramsey. He leaves behind some big shoes, but his little brother Landon is expected to contend for the starting job as a freshman.

Second-year head coach O’Brien Bennett is pushing all the right buttons and has the Stoney Creek community excited again about Rangers football. It has been a work in process, but the Rangers may finally see the fruits of their labor come to fruition this fall.

“We’re looking to take the next step,” Bennett said. “Our kids have been in the weight room and their work ethic has been unbelievable. They approach it already as champions. You can’t be a champion unless you’ve done championship things. There has to be a process.”

The Rangers have been fighting an uphill battle, but recorded the most wins last season (3) since 2013 — when they finished with four. The numbers on the field are up and the leadership is in the right positions. Even though it’s been a while since the Rangers have seen a winning season (last in 2004), look for the Rangers to be much improved this fall.

“We lost a great class of seniors last year. We lost a lot of guys that were a big part of this,” Bennett said. “We had four sophomores on the offensive line last year and they’re all back this year. We only had one senior. That’s going to be huge for us.”

THE SCHEDULE

The first three games for Unaka are all winnable and they beat two of the teams last year. The opener at North Greene will be a competitive game, much like last season when the Rangers stopped the Huskies on the goal line to garner a season-opening win.

The next two games at home are against Cosby and Hancock County. The Rangers could go to Claiborne with a 3-0 record.

The only Region 1-A road game will be at Jellico, but the Rangers do get Carter County and conference rival Cloudland at home. Non-conference opponent Happy Valley will also come to Stoney Creek.

The penultimate game of the season will be at Hampton, which should make for an interesting battle in Carter County if everything falls the way of the Rangers.

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