Different attitude at Unaka


star staff


  There's always a buzz on Stoney Creek around basketball season, but something's different at Unaka High School this year.
  The students and the community are anxiously awaiting Ranger football.
  Before tonight's kickoff against the visiting Hurley Rebels out of Virginia, Unaka is doing things right.
  There will be a pre-game tailgating party with free hot dogs to the first 400 fans, and at 7:30 p.m., the conference favorite Rangers hope to pick up where they left off last season with solid, playoff-achieving football.
  They may not have the "Greatest Show on Turf" or a "Steel Curtain" defense, but the attitude of the squad's players show that the pride of the Ranger football team has been restored.
  "A little bit of success goes a long way. We went 5-5 last year and made the playoffs for the first time in 10 years," said Unaka coach Mike 'Acie' Ensor. "The kids are excited, our players are excited and the general student body is excited. We're just trying to generate some excitement for the people of Stoney Creek about football.
  "We're like everybody else in the county that hasn't played," he said. "We're tired of beating on each other and it's time to get to play somebody else for a change."
  Last year, the Rebels ousted Unaka at their home field. The Rangers hope to get some revenge this year, but Hurley will be fighting just as hard.
  "We look for them to come in and be the same (as they were last year)," Ensor said. "They're really similar to us in the fact that they're going to run a lot of misdirection -- a lot of wing-T -- and they'll try to throw the ball.
  "They're not very big. They're not going to try to knock you off the football and be real physical, but they're going to be aggressive and use their quickness, and try to get around defensively."
  One thing the Rangers hope to promote is the possibility of a lot of points on the scoreboard.
  Unaka returns a solid junior tailback in 1,200-yard rusher Charles Lee Guinn, with last year's signal caller Cody Hurley also working in the backfield.
  One of the biggest helps to the team is transfer quarterback John Zimmerman, who has turned some heads in practice. And sophomore speedster Brandon Medina is looking to grab a few carries.
  "We're always excited to see Charles Lee and Hurley running the football, and we're impressed with our young quarterback John Zimmerman throwing the football," Ensor said. "We're looking forward to seeing the little transfer (Medina) get a hold of the ball and show a little speed."
  Two other players that Unaka are looking forward to seeing are freshman hoss Jeff Wilson (6-1, 210) at fullback and senior Daniel McInturff at free safety.
  "(Wilson) showed real well in both scrimmages, he's a load," added the coach. "Daniel McInturff is back out here, he's a senior and hasn't played since the eighth grade. In the scrimmages he had four picks at free safety. He's looked great and had some big hits. We're excited to see him in game action."
  McInturff is a solid athlete on the basketball court, the baseball diamond and the golf course. But he noted his first love was football.
  "I'm glad to be back out here competing like I did in elementary school," the senior said. "Football's my first love. It's great to be back in the swing of things. We're stepping up this year."
  "There's a vibe going through the school right now and everybody's excited about it," McInturff continued. "We might come out and not look real good in the first game, but we'll gel. We've looked real good in practice."
  The success of the offense relies on the punch of the team's defense, and its big boys up front. Two solid seniors that look to stand strong on the line are Travis Pasquale and Brent Huskins.
  Huskins will be taking the center slot on offense while anchoring the defensive line. Pasquale will move around the offensive front, and will be playing some linebacker.
  ""It's a big thing playing at home our first game," Huskins said. "We want to do real well in front of our fans. We hope to come out, do what we do in practices and hopefully pull out a big win.
  "We got an extra week of practice and it should help us," he continued. "The line's been working hard, the backs have been working hard. We're looking real good right now."
  Said Pasquale: "We're real excited. We hope to come out strong, do our best and play our game. We've got a lot of speed and a decent line. The offense is running pretty good right now, our defense is tough. We're pretty well rounded."
  Several other Rangers hope to turn some heads for the community tonight.
  If Unaka can establish the run early, expect a long trip back home for the Rebels.