Happy Valley cautiously holds favorite role

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff
jbirchfield@starhq.com

   History, tradition and the sheer number of players put Happy Valley in a favorite's role in against North Greene Friday night, but if Warrior fans are expecting a cakewalk they better beware.
   "We've been competitive with them the last few years," said North Greene Husky head coach Tim Bailey. "The scores haven't always been that close, but they haven't run over us.
   "We don't concede anything. That's why we play. We will always be the underdog on paper and we realize to win, it would take almost a perfect game to beat them."
   Last season, Happy Valley only led 13-6 with less than a minute left in the first half before a couple of big runs by Cody Cannon and Tim Whaley led to a touchdown right before the whistle sounded.
   "Playing them on week zero is an unknown factor," said HV head coach Stan Ogg, whose team went on to win 40-18 in 2002. "When we've been opening up with Elizabethton, we are next door to them and we know a little about them. It's not as easy when they are down the road. We don't know about their scrimmages, so we have to be more concerned taking care of ourselves."
   A couple of other factors could help the Husky cause. The game is being played as a lidlifter instead of later in the season, when they are usually banged up and short handed. Also for the first time since 2000, the location will be on NG's home field.
   The last time the squads met in Baileyton, the Warriors took away a hard fought 34-20 win.
   "We hadn't played zero week in a while," said Bailey. "We always play well early in the season. We had a string of where we beat West Greene early four years in a row. I enjoy the zero week because it gives you an open date later in the season. It gives you time to heal up and get better."
   For Ogg's Warrior team, they still have numbers tilted in their favor with 48 players on the roster, twenty more than currently wear North Greene colors.
   "We don't talk about a pushover, we just want to figure out some way to win," said Ogg. "They have so many skill players every year, I don't know where they all come from. They have these kids, who give you gray hairs, because they don't line up and run between the tackles."
   Players in the spotlight for the Warriors will be reserve tailbacks Ryan Garland and Michael Hollifield. With senior Tim Whaley serving a one-game suspension for a personal foul in last year's playoff game against Rockwood, the two youngsters will have to pick up the slack.
   "We're a little short-handed over there," said Ogg about the tailback position. "It can get worse. You never know if a player might get banged up or cramp up and have to set out a few plays. We haven't played four quarters under the gun in these humid conditions, hydration and cramping can become a problem."
   Bailey counters with a group of seniors, including three that have started all four years for the Huskies, LB Cody Parks, DT/OT Eric Collins and lineman Ray Fox. DB/SE Allen Guinn also figures prominently in the Husky plans.
   "We have a dozen seniors on the team," said Bailey. "Their experience should help us this season."
   North Greene is similar to Happy Valley at quarterback with a sophomore Dusty Neal, who had some starts as a freshman. They also feature some other talented offensive players like tailback Dallas Lynch and his brother David Lynch, the team's fullback.
   Defensive back Robert Moorman is one of the best at that position and yes, there's an Ormsby on the team with youngest brother Matthew carrying on his family tradition at defensive end and tight end.
   The Warriors have plenty of younger brothers of ex-players on their team as well including lineman Cane Cannon and receiver/defensive back Michael Everhardt.
   The game also features an interesting sidebar with Happy Valley promising to open up their offense more this season, which may force the Huskies to go more with a 4-3 defense they will open the game with than the 6-man front they like to move into.
   Defensively, North Greene is one of the most unique teams Happy Valley has to prepare for. They run everything from variations of the I-formation to the option to shotgun where they put no running backs behind the signal caller.
   "They will put out five receivers and vacate the backfield in a heartbeat," said Ogg. "If they have an athletic quarterback, he is hard to get to. The kids will be busting their guts chasing him and not get him down.
   "All of a sudden someone gets free downfield and they throw it. They do so much with motion with backs in the backfield and no backs. It's something you don't see a lot of. North Greene gives you as much multiple stuff throwing the ball as anyone you play. Our secondary is where we are the youngest and it will give you gray hairs."
   Both coaches consider the other one of their better friends in the coaching fraternity and enjoy hanging around each other. Warrior fans are encouraged to come to the Friday night affair, where Bailey promises good hospitality will be extended to them as well.
   "Anyone from Happy Valley is welcome," said the veteran coach. "We would like to them to come and have a good crowd down there."