Player leadership will be key for Rangers

Published 1:16 pm Friday, July 29, 2022

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Head coach O’Brien Bennett’s fifth season at Unaka was punctuated by a home playoff game that the Rangers unfortunately fell short under a fourth quarter Midway offensive blitz that erased a 26-14 Unaka lead.

Trying to get to the next level for Unaka – according to Bennett – the Rangers will have to rely on player leadership.

“We have a shortage of coaches so we will be relying on players as on field coaches,” Bennett said. “Guys like Johnny Douglas and Ryan Peters have been here and know the offense and defense. I know that’s tough to put on 17-year-old kids but player leadership is better than coach leadership.”

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The Rangers graduated seven seniors but have a group of juniors – now seniors – that Bennett will rely on for production. Running back Jamol Blamo was the rushing leader last season and will be joined by Joe-Z Blamo at a wide receiver spot.

Takota Freeman and Douglas will look to replace the lost production of Devin Ramsey who put his name in the state record books with his outstanding senior season at wide receiver. The front line was hit the hardest with graduation as the Rangers lost four offensive/defensive linemen but there is talent and size remaining with Brayden Powell, Matt Smith, Aiden Peterson and Tyler Smith.

Landon Ramsey runs the offense from his quarterback position and is in his fourth season as starter but will miss the pure speed and elusiveness his brother Devin provided on a game to game basis.

“It’s been a difficult transition,” Ramsey said. “Whenever I got in trouble I would find him pretty easy. I have two receivers that have come out and worked hard at doing what they are told to do. The loser mentality is gone from here and it’s a whole different team mentality. It’s my goal to try to get back to the playoffs and get a win.”