Davis lifts Warriors over NG

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff
BAILEYTON -- While the James H. Drew Exposition was at the Appalachian Fair, the Drew Davis exhibition was taking place at Husky Field.
Davis accounted for 165 yards and two touchdowns in Happy Valley's 29-12 opening game win at North Greene on Friday night.
The speedy sophomore caught a 60-yard scoring strike from Todd Caldwell on offense, added an 82-yard interception return on defense resulting in another six points and for good measure delivered a bone-jarring wallop on a special teams return.
"It was fun," said Davis, a 6-1, receiver/defensive back. "I don't think we played as well as we are capable of playing. I think we will be ready to play against Unicoi next week. This was the first game, so we got a couple of things out of the way.
"I think our balanced offense works a little better this year. We pass, we run and it opens up more opportunities for everybody. We were pumped in the first half. I'm pretty pleased, but I did do a couple of things wrong on defense that I need to correct before the next game."
Happy Valley marched down the field on the game's opening drive that ended with a 24-yard field goal with Casey Shatley. After holding the Huskies to three and out on the next possession, it looked like a blowout could be in order as the Warriors used a seven-play, 60-yard scoring drive to go on top 10-0.
Michael Hollifield put the final touch on the drive with a 14-yard run to paydirt.
"We got some things out of what we attempted to do," said HV head coach Stan Ogg. "We stayed with our offense, running and throwing it. We had no sacks. We made a plan, the coaches implemented that plan and we stayed with it. What you saw tonight is what Happy Valley is trying to do in 2003."
The Huskies were not about to go down without scrapping at their home field. They cut the lead to four points when quarterback Dusty Neal hit receiver Allen Guinn in stride for a 64-yard touchdown play.
"I didn't know how we would play and it zero week," said NG head coach Tim Bailey. "I was very proud of the way we played tonight. We were short in number, with only 24 players dressing out, but I only saw a few mistakes, which we can fix."
After a pass play for a first down from Caldwell to Ryan Garland was set back by a penalty the next possession, that's when Caldwell and Davis hooked up on the 60-yarder. Shatley's PAT and the ensuing kickoff put an end to the first quarter with the Warriors leading 17-6.
North Greene then mounted an impressive march down the field going all the way from their own 30 to the Happy Valley 28. The next play, Davis stepped in and grabbed a Neal pass and raced 82 yards the other way to score.
With the Warriors up 23-6, North Greene would tighten the score six plays later when Neal and Guinn combined on another long touchdown pass, this one for 44 yards.
Now ahead 23-12, Happy Valley put itself firmly in command the next drive going from its own 41-yard line to score. The drive was capped off when Hollifield bulled his way into the end zone from four yards out.
Both Hollifield and Garland did what was needed at the tailback slot for HV. Hollifield had 62 yards and the two touchdowns, while Garland led the team with 75 rushing yards. Garland also had 44 receiving yards and 44 return yards to provide the team with 163 total yards.
In the second half, the Warrior defense was cracking off big hits with linebacker Will Lowe and defensive end Lance Whitehead getting key tackles for losses.
"I made some mistakes in the first half, so the coaches told me at halftime just to think about the mechanics," said Whitehead. "That's what I did. Everything I practiced on came through in the second half."
Whitehead also ran for 18 yards his first two carries at fullback.
"I like our offense now," said Whitehead. "It opens things up for the run. We had some good runs from the tailbacks and some good blocks up front. It was unbelievable in that first half."
Although neither team scored the second half, the Huskies continued to drive the ball well. The Warriors may have caught a break early in the fourth quarter, as there was some confusion on which down it was at the HV 6.
Two plays earlier, officials called two penalties for holding and a personal foul against HV, which the Huskies felt should have given a new set of downs.
Instead they only got two more plays off before officials gave a possession change to Happy Valley.
"We were trying to discuss that," said Bailey after conferring with the refs. "They made some kind of ruling. We just got outplayed tonight, but I think we will be all right."
The Warriors coughed the ball up only three plays later, still deep in their own territory. That's when the defense stepped up as Garland ended the scoring threat with an interception at the 4-yard line.
"That was as big as anything we did," said Ogg. "Our defense rose to the occasion. That was big. Overall on defense, we missed a few tackles. Everybody has that in a first game of the year, especially one this early with a week less of preparation.
"We have to correct that, the number of penalties and some missed assignments. But we have some good players, some good young men and they will correct it."
There were plenty of positives North Greene could take from the game, as they prepare for county foe Chuckey-Doak on Thursday. They racked up 289 yards of total offense and they actually had more first downs 14 to12 than the Warriors.
Neal looked good being a sophomore quarterback passing for 150 yards, of which Guinn caught 110 yards, and scrambling for another 45 yards.
"He's not too bad," said Bailey. "He's got to learn not to lob the ball out there in the middle. He does that in practice a lot. We can work on it and hopefully get that fixed before next week."
Caldwell put up good numbers as well after the Warriors lined up more in an I-formation than years past, hurling six completions for a total of 147 yards.
Up next for Happy Valley is a home game Thursday night against traditionally its biggest rival Unicoi County.