Rangers take on Green Wave in Region 1-A playoff opener

Published 10:28 pm Monday, November 1, 2021

BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
STAR CORRESPONDENT
What the Unaka Rangers have struggled and battled for this season comes to pass on Friday night when Midway comes to Goddard Field for the opening round of the TSSAA 1-A football playoffs.
The Rangers (7-3 overall) have gotten a week to prepare as Jenkins (KY) declined to play last week, but it still wasn’t clear at that time exactly who Unaka would face as Region 2 had a tight race with Midway, Oliver Springs and Greenback all battling for the third and fourth spots in their conference behind Coalfield and Oakdale who were one and two respectively.
“That is a tough region,” Rangers head coach O’Brien Bennett said. “They knock each other off and they have a lot of parity between the teams. Coalfield was clearly the top team, deservedly so but from Oakdale down to Oliver Springs they battled for playoff positioning all season.”
Midway (6-3 overall) fell in its conference finale 30-22 to Oliver Springs to finish 3-3 in the conference but qualified as the third seed. Senior quarterback Emmett Hegland is a dual-threat in that he is a threat to run or pass and has weapons in senior wide receivers Caleb Goodman and Seth Gordon.
“We will have to be very disciplined because they have weapons all over the field,” Bennett said. “Goodman is the main threat in the passing game but they have a tough little tailback in Ty Mason who can break a big one if you pay too much attention to stop the passing game. Midway has played a tough schedule this year and when you play in highly competitive games all year it prepares you for the playoffs.”
Unaka comes in having won five of six down the stretch and the Rangers have matured over the course of this season. Junior quarterback Landon Ramsey has proven himself to be a dual-threat type as well throwing for better than 1,500 yards and he can be a threat in the run game as well.
Junior RB Jamol Blamo is a speedy, tough back who makes tough yards and is nearing 1,000 yards rushing for the season and senior Devin Ramsey can score from anywhere on the football field and has amassed 1,200 receiving yards.
Offensively Midway has put up 297 points for a 33.0 points per game average while holding opponents to 204 points for a 22.6 per game norm. The Rangers have totaled 293 points for a 29.3 average and held their opponents to 217 points and a 21.7 average.
“We have had several games come down to the wire and had to win in different ways,” Bennett said. “We had a defensive battle with Happy Valley, and a game in the rain with Claiborne that came down to the wire, and had to score a lot of points to get past Harlan (KY) so we have seen how to be successful in different ways.”
Game time is 7 pm.