Rangers feeling chipper

By Marvin Birchfield
star staff
mbirchfield@starhq.com

  If early indications are a positive sign, then football this upcoming season for Unaka will be a success.
  The Rangers have been improving the last couple of seasons, and with this year rolling around it could be the best outing yet.
  "It was a pretty good practice, even though baseball had us in a bind with six or seven players out," said Unaka assistant coach Tommy Vaughn, who oversaw teh drills. "We were hoping to have about 45 to 50 players out for spring football, but it went pretty well for us still."
  Even with a few of the players missing, the numbers for spring football were still a success, as an improved amount of players showed up to participate.
  "We had a pretty large number of kids out, with about 38 showing up," said Vaughn. "We had a lot of returning players along with several young players which consisted of about 16 freshmen. I think we could run as many as 45-50 players, and that's big for Unaka."
  Last year, Unaka had its first winning season in over 10 years with a 5-4 record in regular-season play, and with the talent returning, the outlook appears to be more promising than before.
  "We had a couple of early mistakes last season, which was just young mistakes really, and we'll still be young this year, but I think we'll be better once we get a better handle on things," said Vaughn.
  A key returning starter for the Rangers is junior tailback Charles Guinn, who rushed for over a 1,000 yards last season.
  "He's a team leader now and he's really taken a big role in our football team," said Vaughn. "Everybody is looking to him, and he's showing promise already in spring practice."
  On the line, look for seniors Travis Pasquale, who stepped up last season, and Brent Huskins to make a big impact.
  "Travis has worked hard in the off season, and he'll probably be our starting linebacker and guard," said Vaughn. "Brent is looking good and he's another senior and really coming on strong."
  Unaka also will have senior Cody Hurley returning, who missed the last part of the '03 season due to an injury suffered in his junior year.
  "Cody Hurley didn't get to finish the season last year because of a broken leg, but he's looking good so far," said Vaughn.
  The Rangers should be stronger with their dedication to weight program, but their biggest asset will be the team speed.
  "Things have been going a lot smoother since we've been in the weight program and running program," said Vaughn. "The weight program we have showed big results, and even the baseball players, as soon as they got back from Memphis, started training," said Vaughn. "I think things are going to be pretty promising, and this season we have 10 games scheduled instead of the nine we played last year."
  John Zimmerman will be stepping up to replace Brandon Irick at the quarterback position, which has been a week point for Unaka when going to the air.
  "John is a new guy who's a tall kid, so we're probably going to be able to throw the ball a little better this year," said Vaughn.
  There's a lot of experience coming back even though Unaka is still very young, but with some of the leadership returning the Rangers should be a team contending for the conference.
  "We're not going to have a lot of size, but we've got some bigger kids who are mature, but our speed is going to be really good this year," said Vaughn.