‘Landers to take on local rival Johnson County

Published 10:06 am Tuesday, October 18, 2022

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Having played three of the last four games on the road, the Cloudland Highlanders return to Orr Field on Friday night for a clash with local rival Johnson County.
“Seems like we have been on the road for a month,” Highlanders head coach Zac Benfield said. “It will be nice to play at home in front of the greatest fans we could hope for.”
The ‘Landers (3-5 overall) took a 38-12 road win at Jellico to clinch at least a tie for the top spot in region 1A and can win the conference outright with a win against North Greene next week.
Cloudland made a chance under center with freshman Bryce Birchfield taking over for sophomore Camden Peppers in a move that Benfield said was beneficial to both players saying, “Bryce has shown great command of the huddle and we can use Cam at different spots that really help us. Cam has not complained and has done everything we have asked of him.”
Senior Gage McKinney rushed for 229 yards in the win over Jellico and is closing in on a 2,000-yard rushing season. Currently, McKinney stands at nearly 1,500 yards.
“Gage has been a wide receiver that we asked to play running back and he has done a great job,” Benfield said. “He is just an outstanding athlete and I think he has a chance to get to 2,000 yards.”
Johnson County (2-6 overall) had a two-game win streak snapped with a 21-15 loss to South Greene. The Longhorns opened the season with a five-game losing streak that was snapped with a 22-21 win against Claiborne followed by a 48-39 win over Happy Valley but fell to the Rebels last week.
“Their record doesn’t reflect the talent they have,” Benfield said. “They have good talent at quarterback, wide receiver and running back. They are fast and tough and we will have to play very well to win.”
By moving Peppers to a forward blocking back gives the ‘Landers better pass blocking and will help open holes for McKinney in the run game.
“Cam is versatile and he is a big kid,” Benfield said. “He will help us a lot in different positions and his blocking will help a lot. The passing game is coming along and Bryce is providing a lift at the quarterback position.”
Johnson County is the sixth 2A school the ‘Landers will play this season and they have not fared well with all five of the teams’ losses coming against 2A teams and the ‘Horns will provide another tough test on Friday night with game time set for 7:30 pm.

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