Pleasant forecast for Jr. Longhorns

  By Marvin Birchfield
  star staff
  mbirchfield@starhq.com
  The upcoming season for Johnson County Jr. High football is one of high expectations, especially since the Jr. Longhorns have been a part of the Little Watauga Conference championship game the last three years.
  Last season, Johnson County reached the championship contest after closing with a 7-5 record and battling with several teams that were in contention toward the end.
  Unfortunately for the Longhorns, the contest was plagued by rain, which also dampered their hopes in a 38-8 loss against Hampton.
  This season, the Longhorns look to turn the bad luck of the big game around.
  With a variety of talent returning and a crop of good athletes, coach Delza Noble hopes this season-ending story will be one where they walk away with the fists clinched in the air as a sign of victory.
  "We've got a balanced team with a lot of good athletes, and for the past three seasons we have finished second," said Noble. "We're tired of finishing second and are ready for first now."
  A strong point in the Longhorns' scheme of things will be their size and experience on the offensive and defensive line.
  "Our line is real strong and we didn't lose many from last year," said Noble. "Most of them range from 150 to 200 pounds, so they have some size and strength."
  J.D. Hayworth will be just one of the factors on the defensive side line, as Adam Shelton and Seth Captain will provide stability at linebacker.
  On the offensive side it will be Austin Phipps at quarterback, along with the twin brothers of Travis and Dakota Grindstaff in the backfield.
  Another key for the Longhorns will be their play with special teams, as one of their weapons on offense will be heading the punting and kicking duties.
  "Christian Prudhomme is a real good receiver, and he also will be doing both the kicking and punting for us this season," said Noble.
  It won't be easy for Johnson County to take the crown in the 2004 season, but with the 'Horns coming so close in the past and the great group of kids on and off the field, they are definitely one of this year's favorites.
  "Happy Valley has had some good teams in the past and Hampton is always tough," said Noble. "We are lucky to have as many good coaches as what we do in our conference. Anyone of them can sneak up at anytime.
  "We're just blessed with all the good athletic kids and the type of attitudes they have."