Unaka searching for the winning formula

Published 12:01 am Friday, September 20, 2019

Unaka hasn’t started the season exactly like they would have wanted, but for a team that went 3-8 a year ago, things aren’t going half bad.
Despite a 1-3 start to this season, Unaka has played every game competitively with their losses coming at the expense generally of turnovers or self-inflicted mistakes. The silver lining? It’s nothing that can’t be corrected.
Still yet, last weeks loss to Claiborne was not ideal. The Rangers trailed in the first quarter and had a chance to go ahead but instead turned the ball over in a massive swing of momentum and Claiborne had a huge second quarter.
“We made some mistakes, but the attitude and the effort were there and the execution was improved,” Unaka head coach O’Brien Bennett said about his team’s showing on Friday night.
The team put in a solid display, but the 3A school to 1A school difference really seemed to show.
“We had 460 yards of offense, 233 in the air and 227 on the ground against a tough team,” Bennett stated regarding how well his team played offensively.
The defense also showed flashes of potential as Bennett continued, “We were in position defensively, with multiple defenders on their top kids and plays to help with our matchup challenges but they did a good job adjusting to get their other kids the ball.”
What might have appeared like a big loss on the outside was really a growing opportunity for the Rangers as they look forward now to their matchup with Jellico this Friday. 
The approach for Jellico this week will be a little complex as they have several weapons on the offense.
“Jellico likes to spread it out. They have a talented transfer QB in Joseph Paul who was the starter at 5A Campbell County before coming to Jellico,” Bennett commented on their talented opposition this week. 
But Paul isn’t the only weapon in the arsenal for Jellico as Bennett continued, “He’s got several weapons to throw it to. Jordan King is probably his top target with multiple TDs in the last 2 games.
“But they are also dangerous on the ground. They have several guys who run hard and have good speed if they get a crease.”
Unaka, of course, has weapons of its own and they will be heavily relied on to make big plays versus a Jellico team coming off a big win. 
The recipe for winning the game seems to be easy enough.
“This will be a tough, four-quarter game. It all starts with not beating ourselves. We have to make them earn what they get,” Bennett said.
“This is a huge district game for us,” Bennett added. “We can’t go up there and leave with a lot of what-ifs.” 
Unaka and Bennett both know what has to happen in order to win.
“We need four quarters of execution instead of creating and overcoming our own adversity. The formula is simple: start strong, finish stronger.”

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