Cloudland puts jr. high football program in hands of Turbyfill

By Wes Holtsclaw

   During the past four seasons, Robbie Turbyfill has helped the Cloudland junior high football program through its highs and lows.
   This year, the ETSU grad and former footballer from Emory & Henry takes the reins at his alma mater, and hopes to continue the success that Jon Julian had with the program.
   "It feels good," said Turbyfill. "I'm glad to get a job. I've been there four years with Jon. I know the system and I hope to pretty much incorporate the same things that the high school team does."
   Turbyfill, a Mr. Football nominee during his reign at Cloudland, believes a lot of influence comes from his high school skipper, Mike Lunsford.
   "My biggest influence has been (Mike) Lunsford; especially on the football field, and in life as well," Turbyfill said. "He's always been there and he is helping with the defense this year. John Hicks is helping with the line.
   "The biggest thing we try to do is get them ready for high school, and have them knowing what they're doing when they're freshmen."
   Turbyfill learned a lot at the high school level, especially with developing a bond with players on and off the field.
   "Those friendships you make along the way; in football, you make friends for life," he explained. "They are the players you go through your battles with, and you know that you can depend on them."
   Through some losing seasons and two championships, the Cloudland junior high program has seen its share of success at the higher level despite early prowess from other feeder programs.
   "If you look at last year's team, those seniors went 1-7 in junior high," Turbyfill said. "Winning is good, but if you prepare them well for the high school level, then I'm doing my job. I want to win, though."
   Turbyfill is proud to have seen success from players that have passed through during his time as an assistant, at the higher level of high school play.
   "It feels good," he said. "On last year's team, I coached 90 percent of them with Coach Julian -- Mark (Byrd), Dakota (Benfield), Dane (Christman) and others. If feels good to see them make it as far as possible."
   Turbyfill credits his parents, Robert and Sue Turbyfill, for giving him the support he has needed.
   "I've had plenty of support from my family," Robbie said. "If there was anything I needed, mom and dad were there. I played all three sports in school; they were there and continue to be there for me."
   Robbie looks forward to the upcoming season with the Jr. 'Landers, and hopes to build his kids for the next step.
   "We've got three players that have shown good potential from the start: Jared Kodak, Josh Harrison, and Rodney Hill. We have boys returning to play on the line: Casey Turbyfill, Junior Clawson, Cody Street, Christian Montgomery, Cody Turbyfill, Michael Johnson, and Josh Dugger," said Turbyfill.
   "One good thing that we have is a smart quarterback in Michael Lunsford. He knows this offense as well as anybody; we'll see how it goes in the first game and see what adjustments we need made."
   Lunsford, a seventh grader, is looking forward to his new leadership role on the team.
   "We'd like to win half of the games, and I hope to make the offense better," said Lunsford. "It feels pretty good to be in the seventh grade and to be a captain of the offense. I have to be a good leader."
   Cloudland faces a tough area of teams again this season, and will get a crack at one of the teams at the jamboree on August 17th at 6 p.m. in Roan Mountain.
   Said Turbyfill: "Johnson County and Happy Valley are always good. Hampton looks good, too; Unaka has come along in the past few seasons."
   The Junior Highlanders opens their season at home on August 22nd against the Johnson County Jr. Longhorns.