Hampton looks to play ungracious host to Unaka for Homecoming

Published 4:55 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021

BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
STAR CORRESPONDENT
Things can get contentious between local rivals, especially when the occasion is Homecoming – a game the home team really wants to win. This occasion will occur on Thursday evening when the Unaka Rangers pay a visit to J.C. Campbell Stadium for a non-conference contest.
“Hampton is a great team and one that can be a contender for a state title,” Rangers head coach O’Brien Bennett said. “They lost that one to South Greene but that was a game that could have gone either way. For us, we have to take it one play at a time. We can’t let history beat us before we have even played the game.”
The Rangers are led by one of Carter County’s Players of the Week in Landon Ramsey who has quarterbacked the squad to a five-game win streak and a 6-2 overall mark. Last week the Bulldogs blanked Cumberland Gap by a 42-0 tally led by the triplets of running backs Morgan Lyons and Levi Lunsford and quarterback Conor Jones.
Lunsford had a pair of scoring runs with Lyons also rushing for a touchdown and Jones threw for several completions in the ‘Dogs third scoring drive.
“This is a huge test for us,” Bennett said. “We are trying to build this program to where we have a seat at the table with all the schools in the county. If we can do that then we can be competitive with any team in our region and not just be an automatic W. If we can be consistently competitive with teams like Hampton we know we have turned the corner.”
Team-wise, Hampton (7-1 overall) has shut out three teams this season, and offensively the ‘Dogs average 36.5 points per game while giving up an average of just 11.3 points per game. The Rangers have scored points aplenty this season – scoring 50-plus points twice, and they had a 62 point game and put up 42 against North Greene in the season opener, but they haven’t faced a defense with the talent, speed, and tenacity of the Bulldogs.
The Rangers showed a lot of offensive firepower in a 54-12 win at Cosby which clinched a home game for Unaka in the TSSAA opening round. Junior running back Jamol Blamo scored a pair of touchdowns and rushed for well over 100 yards and Ramsey had a touchdown pass and scored three successful two-point conversions.
The Rangers will close the regular season next week against Jenkins (KY) while Hampton faces off against Daniel Boone at Nathan Hale Stadium.
Both teams will host a first-round playoff game in two weeks.