Rangers hit the road for a non-conference matchup

Published 2:56 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The Unaka Rangers look to continue building momentum when they travel to play the Bulldogs on Friday night.
The Rangers, fresh off a bye week, travel to New Tazewell to take on Region 1-3A Claiborne Bulldogs.
“Claiborne is a tough 3A opponent for us,” Rangers head coach O’Brien Bennett said. “They have played Unicoi County very tough and led Johnson County 21-0 before Johnson County was able to come back and score the game-winner with only 4 seconds left.”
Claiborne runs a veer offense, which is an option offense run off an unbalanced line and requires staying in your lane or else you invite a big play.
“They run a split back veer offense that forces you to be very disciplined on defense and makes you pay for any missed assignments or missed tackles,” Bennett said.  “They have a very good stable of running backs and a quarterback who all run hard and can pick up tough yards, but also can create explosive plays on the ground.”
On defense,  Bennett said he expects an aggressive opponent. “Defensively, they are a very aggressive front with athletic linebackers and they routinely create havoc in the opponent’s backfield. We will have to be very disciplined on defense to force them into extended drives if they want to score. We can’t shorten the field for them with explosive plays, turnovers, or special team errors. We need to make them earn it.”
This will be a big challenge for the line. Offensively, this is a big week for our line as they will have to compete with a much larger team for four quarters and match the aggressiveness and physicality of Claiborne. These are the kind of games we need to get better as a team moving forward,” he said.
In last year’s meeting, the Rangers hosted the Bulldogs and had a goal-line stand to hold on for a 14-12 non-conference win. The Rangers traveled to New Tazewell in 2019 and fell to Claiborne 54-28.
Unaka is in a second-place tie in Region 1-1A with a 2-1 conference and 3-3 overall record. Claiborne is currently in last place in Region 1-3A with a 0-3 conference and 2-4 overall record.
Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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