Jr. Rangers stick it to Jr. Warriors 32-8 in opening week.

  By Adam Buckles
  STAR Correspondent
  Happy Valley and Unaka each lost a great group of eighth graders last season. This year both teams looked to take big steps. In this case, the Rangers took the biggest step Thursday night, as they whipped the Happy Valley Warriors, by a score of 32-8.
   "I'm proud of the thirty-six hard-working kids tonight," said Unaka coach Matt Wilson. "Happy Valley is always a good championship team, year in and year out."
  On the opening drive of the night, the Warriors broke first. Garrett Dykes busted through on the opening play for 22 yards for a first down. Three plays later, the Ranger defense jumped on the other side for an extra five yards.
  Then Bradley McVey added another five yards for a fresh set of downs to set HV up at the 19-yard line. Dykes broke off a couple of good runs to mark the ball at the 10. After that, McVey pushed and clawed his way in for a 10-yard score. McVey added the conversion run to increase the score, 8-0.
  "I think the first drive we were not ready at the time," Wilson said. "I think after that drive, we got settled in and started to play."
  Unaka's first drive was just as good. Jeff Peters added three solid runs of seven, eight, and 15. Dustin Carden topped runs of 15 and 18.
  After Carden's 18-yard run, Peters met paydirt for a one-yard score, and Carden added the PAT to knot the game at 8, to cap off the 63-yard drive.
  Happy Valley's second possession was the beginning of the Ranger defense. Peters stuffed Dykes to push him back for two. Then Carden stopped Dykes again to force a turnover on downs.
  The very next play saw Peters in the end zone. He broke the Warrior defense in half for a 52-yard score. Carden capped off the TD with a conversion to give the Rangers a commanding 16-8 going into the lockeroom.
  The Rangers picked up where they left off in the third quarter behind the running of Peters and Carden. Unaka started out on the 36-yard marker and didn't plan on staying there long.
  The sixth play of the drive featured a Peters burst for 40 yards for another score. Carden later hit Kelly Rapert in the end zone for the PAT to increase the lead to 24-8.
  Unaka's defensive unit paved the rest of the way. Rapert and Carden each handed the Warriors solid hits on the following drive, which resulted in a punt.
  The following possession gave the Rangers another scoring opportunity. On the tenth play of the drive, Carden sneaked up the middle for two, then followed by a Peters' burst, to make it 32-8.
  "I think I did the best I could, the line was great tonight, and they blocked about every play," Peters mentioned, on his 3-touchdown performance. "I feel like that I just really need to stay in shape, to keep winning this year."
  Peters ended the night with, 159 yards on eleven touches, including one PAT. Carden racked up an 89-yard night, including one touchdown and three conversions.
  "We played as a team, Jeff ran good and our defensive ends didn't let nothing get outside," stated Carden.
  Happy Valley was led by McVey and Dykes. McVey was good for 36 yards on eight attempts, including a touchdown and PAT. Dykes was good for 41 yards on 11 rushes.
  "I think they're different with Jeff. We didn't play well at all," Warriors' rookie head coach Josh Wandell said. "He's bigger, stronger, and faster than anyone on our team. We had a few dropped passes and just too many overall mistakes. We will have to cut that down."
  Rapert had a stellar night, ending up with eight tackles and a fumble recovery. While Britt Yelton and Ryan Gouge each added some big hits.
  "I think we will be ready for Johnson County and Hampton," added Rapert.
  "Kelly and Britt played great at end tonight, and Ryan did a good job at linebacker," Wilson stated. "We have to eliminate mental mistakes, and it's a tough conference. Every team has to become ready to play every night."
  Next week the Rangers will have an open week, then will travel to Roan Mountain, the following week to take on the 'Landers. Happy Valley will be on the road next Thursday at Johnson County. Game time for that game is set for 1 p.m.
  Happy Valley 8 0 0 0 -- 8
  Unaka 0 16 8 8 -- 32
  First downs -- HV 5, Unaka 7. Rushing -- HV 17-80, Unaka 34-259. Passing -- HV 1-2-0-22, Unaka 0-0-0-0. Total offense -- HV 102, Unaka 259. Penalties -- HV 2-10, Unaka 5-30. Punts -- HV 1-24.0, Unaka 0-0.0. Fumbles-lost -- HV 4-1, Unaka 3-0.