Jr. Warriors bounce back, defeating Johnson County

By Ivan Sanders
STAR STAFF
isanders@starhq.com
MOUNTAIN CITY -- After suffering a lopsided defeat to the Unaka Jr. Rangers to start the season, Happy Valley Middle coach Alex Payne had to wonder if his team could come back against a tough Johnson County team, especially with the game in Mountain City.
Payne was given a pleasant surprise on Thursday afternoon as the Jr. Warriors came away with a solid 8-0 victory at Paul H. McEwen Stadium.
"I was really pleased with the overall effort, especially as down as they were after the loss to Unaka," said Payne. "They came out enthusiastic and ready to play. That makes me real proud."
Defense was the name of the game as the Warriors and Jr. Longhorns locked horns for most of the game.
Happy Valley scored the game's only touchdown in the second quarter on a 22-yard touchdown run by Jr. Warrior Jordan Oliver. Garrett Dykes added the two-point conversion to give the game's final margin.
Jessie Richardson had a great game on both sides of the ball for the Jr. Warriors, both carrying the ball and leading his team in tackles.
Defensive line play was great for the Jr. Warriors as David Frazier, Adam Back, Cody McQueen and Caleb Johnson contributed with a rock solid outing.
Johnson County did manage to threaten late in the fourth quarter as Tyler Leonard, who had only one man to beat before being stopped, picked up a big first down on the 25-yard line before the Jr. Warrior defense stiffened to stiffle the drive.
Said Jr. Longhorn coach Delza Noble: "We are making a lot of mistakes right now. Mental errors are what is hurting us. We have good kids doing good things, but we just have to put it all together."
Happy Valley runs it record to 1--1 with the win and has an opportunity to get a measure of respect, as Unaka comes calling on Warrior Hill Tuesday afternoon.