Rangers host Happy Valley with an upset in mind

Published 6:40 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2021

BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
STAR CORRESPONDENT
The game on Friday night at Goddard Field between Unaka and Happy Valley may look like a mismatch but if you listen to Rangers head coach O’Brien Bennett you would be making a mistake to think that.
“They have played a tough early schedule,” Bennett said of the Warriors. “If you look at them and only see 0-4 you’re making a mistake. I think a lot of teams are going to struggle offensively against teams like Hampton, South Greene, and Unicoi County. They are a good football team and a well-coached, physical team.”
Happy Valley has scored just 14 points in four early games and has been blanked twice, with their quarterback position in flux since week one. Senior Blake Garmon opened the season at quarterback but since then senior flanker Andrew Little and freshman Drew Blevins have given it a shot.
“We’re struggling at every position right now,” Warriors head coach Jason Jarrett said. “There is no one position that has excelled in any way. We are not really used to underperforming so we are battling every day to try to find ways to get better.”
According to Jarrett, the passing game is completing passes at around 21 percent, and the run game averages 1.7 yards per carry.
“A lot of that can be credited to many different things,” Jarrett went on to say. “From blocking up front to slow meshing in the backfield. Also in the passing game, it is a combination of a lot of different things, like route running and we have had drops.”
Unaka (2-2 overall) comes off a huge 62-20 conference victory over Jellico in which junior running back Jamol Blamo rushed for four touchdowns and junior quarterback Landon Ramsey had a touchdown pass and a run as well as five two-point conversion makes.
Senior wideout Devin Ramsey scored every which way with a rushing touchdown, a touchdown reception, and a kick return for a score. The 62 points tie a school record for points scored in a game.
“I don’t like crunching scenarios of ‘if we do this and if we do that, I just say let’s take care of today,” Bennett said. “Last Friday we played our most complete game of the year. Happy Valley is a good team and we are still trying to figure out how to beat good teams.
“And they have some weapons that can beat you. Andrew Little can fly and they use him all over the field offensively and defensively and if you make a mistake he can make you pay to the tune of six points. He is one player we need to identify where he is.”
For Happy Valley, it is a question of not beating themselves with miscues and penalties which have hurt them so far this season.
“Unaka is definitely a dynamic team offensively that can do a lot of things,” Jarrett said. “We have played pretty well in spurts defensively but our offense is not helping the defense, so this will be a great challenge. We are playing a lot of young kids in different positions and we are asking a lot of them.”
The game time is 7:30 pm.