Little Watauga tunes up for season in jamboree

By Ivan Sanders

   The Little Watauga Jamboree was played Saturday night at J.C. Campbell Stadium in Hampton, with a large contingent of parents and fans eagerly checking out each team to see which one could possibly be vying for the top dog of the conference.
   The format was a ten-minute period of play between two of the participating schools in the conference.
   In the first quarter of action, the Unaka Rangers caught the Hampton Bulldogs asleep in the doghouse, as the boys from Stoney Creek took the period by a score of 8-0.
   Riding the bullish running of Jeff Wilson, the Rangers punched the ball into the end zone with Wilson doing the honors on both the score (50-yard run) and the two-point conversion.
   Meanwhile, the defense of Unaka kept the Jr. Dogs caged the entire period.
   Period number two saw the Johnson County Jr. Longhorns square off against the Cloudland Jr. Highlanders.
   It was an exciting period of action with both teams displaying strong defensive play. The Jr. 'Horns was the only team to cross the goal line in the stanza.
   Tyler Leonard took a hand off and raced 30 yards for the score, giving the crowd from Johnson County something to cheer for.
   The Landers then went to work on offense and moved the ball down the field.
   A nifty long pass play from Michael Lunsford seemingly tied the score, but one of those pesky yellow flags downfield wiped the touchdown off the board. The Longhorns then held on for the 6-0 advantage.
   A crowd favorite was a contest to see who was the quickest and the strongest from the teams early in the season.
   In the fastest lineman contest, Hampton's David Caldwell bested the field to win going away. JC's Leonard followed up Caldwell's performance by taking the fastest back and longest kick portion of the competition.
   Wilson of Unaka proved to have the strongest leg by winning the punting contest while Cloudland's Michael Lunsford flung the ball the furthest to win the passing event.
   Hampton and Happy Valley closed out the evening's organized portion of the jamboree.
   The price was right for Hampton, as Brooks Price set the Jr. 'Dogs up for the period's only score by carrying the ball inside the five-yard line before Jared Irick hit paydirt with the score.
   Price also accounted for a big interception for Kelly Oliver's team, which returns a bevy of starters from last year's squad.
   "Tonight was a good opportunity for the teams to knock heads with each other," said Oliver. "It helps to be able to hit someone else besides your own team."
   Most of the squads will be seeing their first action of the regular season in the coming week. Check out the STAR for action all during the regular season and into the championship game.