• 41°

Unaka hosts Greenback in Region 1A playoff

BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
On Friday night the fans at Goddard Field will see what they have waited a generation for; an Unaka Rangers home playoff game. The Rangers (4-6) will face third-seed Greenback (4-6) of Region 2A.
“This would be special in any year, but this year has been so much different than most years makes it extra special,” Rangers head coach O’Brien Bennett said. “We have to come out and execute and not beat ourselves.
“Greenback is a tough, physical and well-coached football team and we don’t expect anything different from them.”
Greenback had four COVID games this year with two going against them but they have won their last two games by a combined score of 69-7, beating Midway 34-0 and Oakdale 35-7.
Junior quarterback Micah Franklin ignites the Cherokees offense with senior fullback Braden Matoy and senior wideout Blake Fields as his main weapons.
Franklin had 226 yards passing on 10-for-14 completions with two touchdowns and one interception. Fields caught three passes for 101 yards and a score while freshman Kooper Williams had three catches for 37 yards and a score.
“You don’t have to turn on the film to know what kind of team Greenback is,” Bennett said. “They are going to be tough, talented, disciplined and well-coached and that’s just who Greenback is and they can spread it out and they are fast.
“They are a good football team and always have been as long as I have been in the game.”
Unaka sophomore quarterback Landon Ramsey had a breakout game last Friday against Sunbright with 324 passing yards and five scoring passes. He also ran for a touchdown but the Rangers fell 50-44 in a high-octane offensive game.
“Any time you can extend a play that’s a big factor and Landon does that,” Bennett said. “He moves around in the pocket and when you can extend a play even for a second it gives you a chance.
“You don’t have to be Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes – Dan Marino was one of the best at extending plays and finding open receivers downfield – and Landon can break contain and sprint out and he does a good job extending plays and keeping his eyes downfield.”
Junior wide receiver Devin Ramsey is the quarterback’s favorite target and being brothers they have a lot of time to work on coordinating where each will be on the field and make the connection.
Against Sunbright, Devin was good for 13 receptions for 256 yards and three touchdowns and they will need that kind of production against a formidable Cherokee squad.
Other players that will factor strongly for Unaka is the front line which will need to open holes for running back’s Ryan Peters and TJ Thomas both of whom rushed for 70-plus yards in last week’s contest.
Game time is 7 pm.