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Shearl’s rushing effort nearly breaks long-held record

BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
If it takes a village to raise a child it takes a team to challenge a record. Last Friday night Unaka junior running back Daniel Shearl – with the support of a strong offensive line – nearly took down a record that has stood since 1973.
In that year Kim Richardson rushed for 350 yards on 22 carries against Cloudland to set the school single-game rushing mark.
Richardson said in an instant message statement, “He seems like a great player and it is quite an achievement for him. I want to extend my personal congratulations to him on a great effort.”
Shearl finished the night against a strong Jellico squad with 321 yards on 32 carries with three rushing touchdowns as well as a 70-yard interception return for yet another score.
Shearl had 15 carries of 10 yards or more including a fourth-quarter run of 53 yards that put him near the record.
“I just pushed myself to my limit,” Shearl said. “I was ready to come out and play and they wanted to run their mouths but I showed it with my play. I showed it on the field and didn’t do any talking I just showed it with my pads.”
The offensive line that night consisted of junior center Cody Drew, senior guards Colby Jones and Nathaniel Oaks, junior tackle Noah Carden and senior tackle Jordan Day.
“Our whole offensive line did a great job,” Rangers head coach O’Brien Bennett said. “We keep up with pancake blocks which gives the linemen a stat. They play in the shadows and don’t have stats that show up consistently so we keep pancakes.”
Oaks ended up with 14 pancake blocks with Drew good for eight. Jones and Day both contributed seven pancakes and Carden had five.
“Noah and Cody both had a heck of a game and it seemed like Shearl didn’t get touched for seven or eight yards downfield,” Bennett said. “It was a determined effort with these guys and the seniors coming to work every day and on the line you know how tough and physical a game it is.
“Day hasn’t missed a day since he has been here and Oaks hasn’t had any unexcused days and he does theater on the side and when he does plays he gets a pass. Jones had one absence as a freshman so they have definitely put in the time.”
With such a heavy workload it would be logical for Shearl to ask for a breather here and there but he missed just two sequences when the team bogged down so he got right back in the mix.
“There were times when I ran back to back to back and I came out a couple of series,” Shearl said. “But we bogged down and so after that coach told me I wasn’t coming out.”
For his part, Coach Bennett said, “We certainly didn’t anticipate 300 yards rushing, but you don’t want to have negative plays. So when things were working in the run game you want to just keep doing what is working.
“I mean, Landon (Ramsey) is a good quarterback with good weapons and we could have thrown it since the offensive line was doing such a great job but you don’t want to out-think yourself either.”
Unaka looks to continue it’s winning ways on Friday night visiting Happy Valley at Warrior Hill in a non-conference contest.