Perfect Highlanders claim WJAL title

Published 1:37 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Cloudland Highlander Mighty Mites have guarded their keep all season long regardless of where they’ve played. So it was only fitting that on Saturday morning, in the highlands of Roan Mountain, that they finished their perfect season by stopping the invading Vikings of Bristol 15-7.
Head coach Brandon Johnson had nothing but praise for his team Saturday after they defeated the Vikings on Orr Field for the Watauga Junior Athletic League Mighty Mites title.

“We had guys that played big at certain times, we got a few fumbles that was key to pushing us over the top,” said Johnson.”It was a good team we faced and a good defense.”
The Highlanders struck on their first drive of the game when Jordan Hodges (12) scored the first of his two touchdowns of the game. Hodges rumbled 45 yards on a quarterback keeper at the 8-minute mark of the first quarter. Cooper Kleinsmith caught a 2-point conversion pass to give the Highlanders an 8-0 lead.
Coach Johnson had high praise for his quarterback, “ Jordan showed up big for us today on those two plays. It was some of his toughest running and toughest plays.”
The Vikings would answer in the second when Grady Burke (5) would go 3 yards for the touchdown at the 3:51 mark. The Vikings added the extra point on a run play to make the score 8-7 going into the half.
The defenses stepped up and ruled for the next quarter and a half as neither team could get on track on offense.
This set up an exciting final 5:26 as both teams fumbled the ball away on back to back plays. Starting with the Highlanders, as they recovered a Viking fumble only to fumble it away on the very next play. Not to be outdone the Vikings returned the favor and on their ensuing play fumbled the ball back to the Highlanders that was recovered by Rylan Jones (28) and Cloudland was in business on the Vikings 35-yard line.
On the next play, the Highlanders Hodges scampered 35 yards to end zone, and he also scored the point-after to give Cloudland their final margin of victory.
Coach Johnson gave a rousing speech to the team after the game noting how very proud he was of his team. He later said “These kids came out every day, every practice, all of them showed up and gave 100 percent all the time. I can’t say anything bad about them, they were great.”

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