Longhorns stampede 'Landers

By Matt Hill

   Johnson County Junior High fullback Jesse Atwood comes from one of East Tennessee's most well-known football families. On Thursday night in Roan Mountain, he made a name for himself.
   Atwood rushed for 137 yards on five carries and scored two long touchdowns en route to leading the Junior Longhorns to a 26-16 win over the Cloudland Junior Highlanders at Orr Field.
   Atwood scored on a 61-yard run in the second quarter, then he hit paydirt on a 41-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
   The latter score put Johnson County up 18-0, and the Longhorns never looked back.
   "Atwood had a great game," Johnson County head coach Delza Noble said. "He's a quick and tough little kid. He does what we ask him. He looked good tonight."
   Jesse Atwood is the nephew of Mike and Austin Atwood. They were stars on the Johnson County gridiron, and they now serve as the coaches for the Johnson County High School team.
   "There's a tradition there, so he's got to be good," Noble said.
   Andrew Sexton scored the other two touchdowns for Johnson County. Sexton took the ball into the end zone on a 2-yard run during the third quarter, then he went all the way on a 65-yard kickoff return late in the contest.
   Noble was pleased overall with how the Longhorns ran the ball, but thought there were some mistakes made.
   "We've got some fast kids, but we made a lot of mistakes," Noble said. "We should have played a little bit better."
   As for Highlanders, it was definitely a valiant effort considering the circumstances. Already playing without injured quarterback Michael Lunsford, more bad news occurred when backup Logan Buck went down early in the game.
   That forced Jared Kodak to step into the quarterback spot. And according to Cloudland head coach Robbie Turbyfill, he filled in quite nicely.
   "I'm very proud of Jared Kodak," Turbyfill said. "He stepped in, and he's not even a quarterback. He did a good job. That's all we can ask out of him."
   The Landers made the game very respectable late with two fourth quarter touchdowns from Josh Harrison. Harrison's second score was an incredible 93-yard scamper.
   Harrison finished the night with 139 yards on 13 carries.
   "Josh Harrison ran the ball extremely well," Turbyfill said.
   Despite the defeat, Turbyfill thought his boys could hang their heads high.
   "I'm proud of my guys effort," Turbyfill said. "They never gave up. You could tell in the fourth quarter. We were still going hard."