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Warriors hoping for rivalry rebound against Unicoi County

BY AUSTIN ALEXANDER
STAR CORRESPONDENT
HAPPY VALLEY – An 0-2 start is not what teams dream about in the off-season, but it’s the reality that the Happy Valley Warriors currently face, and just as Coach Jason Jarrett said, nobody feels sorry for them.

That’s especially true this week as the Warriors will travel up the mountain a little ways to take on their rivals in Unicoi County, and just like any other rivalry game, records don’t typically matter.

A tough loss to South Greene last week was furthered by some big injuries to some key Warriors, and the coach says “it’s too early in the week” to know exactly who will be fit and ready to go, but he and the team remain optimistic everyone who played last week will be playing this week.

There were many lessons to be learned last week against a South Greene team with maybe the best 2A quarterback in the state.

“We improved drastically in several areas,” Coach Jarrett commented about how much his team improved from games one to two. “We were determined to not allow them to beat us running the football, which we were successful at; however, I expected us to compete better in the secondary.”

The secondary ended up being the kryptonite for the Warriors as the secondary just couldn’t find the answers in time.

That combined with the injuries were Jarrett’s main concerns following last week, but he remains confident the on-field issues are more than fixable.

As for this week’s game? Well, Jarrett and company know there’s no downplaying it, it’s a big one for all parties involved.

“It’s Unicoi, enough said,” Jarrett explained when talking about a rivalry he knows about all too well. “I played in the rivalry, and have coached in the rivalry for 20 years now. I know what it represents. Now, our kids have to know and understand it.”

As with any rivalry game at any level of sports, things always seem to be wonky when the folks you like the least come into town. Things stop making sense and it becomes more and more apparent that a rivalry isn’t just a regular game.

“Throw the record books out, our kids have to realize that we must get tougher physically and mentally. These types of rivalries require that toughness. Unicoi doesn’t feel sorry that we are 0-2, nor will anyone else,” Jarrett continued on what his team’s got to do to climb this sort of mountain.

Unicoi County on the flip side is 2-0 for the first time in several years and will be looking for nothing more than to send the Carter County boys back to the Valley with a loss.

Coach Jarrett continued to emphasize the one word his team has to play by this week to compete and that is “toughness.”

“We can’t be soft physically or mentally, we have to toughen up,” Jarrett added to what his expectations for his team are.

Jarrett concluded that finishing in the red zone combined with some takeaways on defense could be enough for an upset. Another big swinger for the Warriors, how about a big play on special teams?

The Happy Valley Warriors travel to Erwin on Friday to take on the Unicoi County Blue Devils. The kickoff is set for 7:30 pm.