Rangers have their best shot at a Conference title in Roan Mountain Friday night

Published 1:41 pm Monday, August 22, 2022

BY C. Y. Peters
Star Correspondent
Goddard O’Brien Field, kind of has a good ring to it.  It’s a little early to mention that but with a win this week in Roan Mountain and the Unaka Rangers could possibly win their first conference Championship since 1959.  I was only three months old, the Hampton School had just burned in October, and head Coach Lynn Goddard, whom the Unaka field is named after, was the head coach of the Rangers.
Ranger fans buy your tickets early for this Friday night game, it will sell out, there will be a packed house and you might get to see the Rangers do what they haven’t done in 62 years.
Seems a little early to be talking about a conference title, but this is the biggest game of the year for Unaka and Cloudland.  North Green already has a conference loss, and it opens the door for the Rangers or Landers to be in the driver’s seat and a possible conference title in only the second game of the season.
Last week the Rangers were playing like it was mid-season, running the ball, passing at will, and delivering the big hits on defense. Quarterback Landon Ramsey was 12 for 18 with 159 yards in passing.  He also rushed 14 times for nearly 100 yards and scored a touchdown and three two-point conversions.  Running back Jamol Blamo rushed 15 times for 112-yards and scored three times. T.J. Thomas ran the ball five times for 64-yards and Ryan Peters carried the ball one time for 11-yards.  Ramsey went to six different receivers in working the ball toward the end-zone.  Takoda Freeman, Joe-z Blamo, A.J. Greenless and Brynin Repass all had two catches, Johnny Douglas caught one and T.J. Thomas led the Rangers in receiving with three catches for 69-yards.
Peters led the Rangers on defense with seven tackles, Jamol tallied six tackles.  Coach O’Brien Bennett said it was a big way to start the season with a district win.
Last week Marcus Shomaker, Jake Wilson and Brayden Powell were monsters up front, allowing Ramsey and Blamo to make big plays.  O’Brien also said Aidan Peterson and Tyler Smith stepped up in their first game as starters on the offensive line.
Junior Marcus Shomaker said “To beat Cloudland would mean the world to me knowing that we haven’t beat them since 2011. I only beat them once in middle school in football but it hasn’t been done in over 10 years and knowing that we have been setting records and have historic seasons since I’ve been in high school.  I wanna make another one by winning the district and we have a great chance of winning district and I have high hopes for this season also.”
“It’s going to be a physical affair,” said Coach Bennett. “We are going to have to play mistake free football and match the physicality Cloudland brings. We can’t go out Friday night and beat ourselves; Cloudland is a good enough football team to do that without our help. I expect them to make a big jump from game one to game two. We need to do the same. We have a lot to clean up if we want to compete against high-level competition like Cloudland. We need to be prepared mentally to get hit in the mouth and get back up rather than letting one mistake snowball us into being out of the game.  I think we have the leadership on the field to do that.”
 Quarterback Ramsey stated “it would be huge and since they haven’t beat them since 2011. All of the hard work we have put in this summer will pay off”
It was a scoring fest for the Rangers leading at one time 38-6 in the season opener.  Cloudland was held scoreless in the first half at Happy Valley.  On Warrior Hill it takes a half to get used to that field, it’s a different kind of football field and Cloudland put up two scores in the second half and just fell a little short for the win.  This game will be at home for them and their fans support the blue and gold and I expect a large crowd.  Not only from the Landers but many maroon shirts from across the mountain to see maybe their Rangers have the best shot of a conference title.  This will be the Rangers’ best shot at a title in 62 years.

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