Unaka pushes past Hancock County to take third place

Published 11:17 pm Friday, October 23, 2015

by Bryce Phillips

Star Staff


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It was a battle.

And when the dust settled at Hancock County High School Friday night the Unaka High School Rangers were up 14-8 to claim third place in Region 1-A football.

“These guys played hard,” Coach Steven McKinney said. “You can’t take anything away from Hancock County; they play hard. We are both young teams. You know we made the play-off and we have another chance to go down the road and play. This is great for our kids and our program.”

At the end of a back and forth first half, the game was tied at eight.

The Rangers, after pushing from their own 41 to the Indian three, got on board first with freshman QB John “Boy” Ramsey connecting with Devon Jarrett for a 3-yard TD pass. On the two-point conversion, senior running back Micah Grindstaff peeled out to the left side of the defensive line, before diving and extending into the end zone to put the Rangers up 8-0 over the Indians early in the first quarter.

After a defensive face off, with each team holding the other back consistently, the Indians finally found some footing as Zach Seal scrambled in for a 13-yard rushing touchdown. On the two-point conversion, the Indians’ offensive line won the battle at the line of scrimmage as they pushed Caleb Baker into the end zone, tying the game up at eight.

The Rangers would push to try and get back out ahead before halftime, but came up short as the clock ran out, sending the teams to the locker room tied at eight.

In the second half, the Rangers didn’t take long to jump out ahead, as Ramsey connected with Brandon Guinn, who shook off his defender with a fancy move, before scrambling into the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown reception. The Rangers went for another two-point conversion, but came up short, putting the score at 14-8 in favor of Unaka.

“We needed our receivers to get open, and they got open,” said Ramsey, who tossed both of Unaka’s touchdowns Friday night. “I threw the ball and they made the plays.

“Our line blocked when they needed to,” he added. “We need to work on some things before we go to playoffs, but I am glad we are going to playoffs.”

Ramsey, a freshman, has had to step into the quarterback slot, after playing the position for the first time last year in middle school ball. He said that he is adjusting to prep football with the help of his teammates.

“I have played up my whole life,” he said. “It is nothing new. Micah and the seniors have taken me in. All of the upperclassmen have helped me get through this. It was rough at first. I went through a rough time and they helped me get through it.”

Late in the fourth quarter, the Indians pushed to score one more time before the time ran out, but the Rangers’ defense stepped up to the occasion. Hancock’s attempts were thwarted.

“Our defense stepped up,” McKinney said. “The defensive staff did a great job and had us prepared well.”

The Rangers had 167 yards of total offense, with 133 coming from the ground. Grindstaff led the ground assault with 138 yards on 30 carries. The Rangers had negative yards on the ground to push things back to 133.

Unaka’s defense was able to hold the Indians to 215 yards of offense, which mostly came from a ground attack that was led by Hancock’s Zach Seal, who had 114 yards rushing on 21 carries.

Next week, the Rangers will host Midway.