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Rangers face a tough test on Friday

BY AUSTIN ALEXANDER
STAR CORRESPONDENT 
STONEY CREEK- The Unaka Rangers came into this season of the unknown with an open mind.
After a tough season in 2019, the Rangers got back to work this offseason and opened their 2020 account with a big win at Hancock County last Friday.
The win was massive with early region implications on the line, however, this Friday’s game against Claiborne they’re the clear underdogs.
The Rangers will be looking to keep the momentum from last week’s 36-14 win rolling into their first home matchup of the season, but really the final score could’ve been anything last week.
 “It was a win just to be out on a Friday night playing football,” said Ranger head coach O’Brien Bennett who like all of us felt lucky just to be there.
Bennett said that the win was just the icing on the cake, but he did say that he feels the extra pressure this season of giving his team the right guidance.
“You always take things week by week and step by step, but this year the reality of those “coach speak” statements is front and center.”
Moving into this week’s matchup with 3A Claiborne it’s pretty clear that the Rangers will be the underdog, but it’s a test Unaka is ready to attack.
“Any time you play a larger school, you have to be able to match up in the trenches.” Bennett continued, “If you can’t get things going upfront, it doesn’t much matter what you do anywhere else.”
As far as what his team needs to do to win aside from the trenches, it’s more about what they need to avoid, turnovers. Despite the win over Hancock County, this was the Rangers biggest problem. 
“We turned the ball over three times on Friday, twice inside the 5-yard line, one of which was returned for a TD,” Bennett spoke about his team’s struggles on Friday. “We will need to take advantage of every opportunity we get and not give Claiborne any extra chances.”
The Rangers will have to play a near-perfect game to find the win on Friday, but anything is possible.
And as coach Bennett said, just witnessing a game be played in Stoney Creek will be a win in its own right.
Friday night’s game kicks off at 7:30 pm as the Rangers host the Bulldogs.