Jr. Highlanders get past feisty Rangers

By Wes Holtsclaw
SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   An opening kickoff can go a long ways.
   In Thursday evening's contest between the Cloudland Junior Highlanders and the Unaka Junior Rangers, it decided the outcome of the game.
   Jared Kodak rumbled 76 yards with a score on the opening play, which gave Cloudland a lead that they would hold throughout the entire contest.
   A fourth quarter score gave Cloudland the 14-0 win over a tough Unaka squad.
   "It was ugly," said Cloudland coach Robbie Turbyfill. "The penalties killed us, but I saw improvement in our run game. We were able to get big chunks of yards, but the penalties brought us back."
   Cloudland was held back with 100 yards of penalties on the evening, but Turbyfill saw good things out of some kids."
   "Jared Kodak played an exceptional game, he is phenomenal," Turbyfill said. "Jon Simmons stepped it up on defense. We just gotta get our blocking down for next week when we play Happy Valley. We got a win, and it's good enough."
   It was Unaka's first appearance on the field this season, and after a late start, the Jr. Rangers did an exceptional job against Cloudland.
   "I'm pleased with our first game," said Unaka coach Matt Wilson. "Despite our late start, starting about two weeks ago, they did a good job. Cloudland has a good team. I'm proud of these boys and the effort they gave."
   Jared Kodak led Cloudland all around with 81 yards rushing and 19 yards receiving to go with his impressive defense.
   "I hope it encourages us to win some more," said Kodak. "We need some more work on our offense and defense. But we'll work it out in practice."
   The game was a toss-up throughout most of the contest as Unaka got great playing from Travis Hull, Dustin Carden, Jacob Estep, Steven Lapp and Michael Carpenter.
   Cloudland scored late in the fourth quarter behind a strong drive that resulted in a 15-yard touchdown from Josh Harrison.
   A strong effort from the Jr. Rangers pulled them within a few yards of scoring, but the second of two Cloudland interceptions (Logan Buck) to Jon Simmons gave Cloudland the shut out victory.
   The Cloudland offensive line did a good job for the Jr. 'Landers in the contest.
   Said Cloudland lineman Casey Turbyfill: "We played well; should've done better, just gotta quit facemasking."
   Unaka played tough throughout the entire contest, but was led by a strong 111-yard rushing and defensive effort from Jeff Wilson.
   "I just want to thank the line for blocking," said Jeff Wilson. "Our quarterback Michael Carpenter did a good job. I just want to thank the team.
   "We have a really good coach. He has brought us far in two weeks of practice, and I want to thank him."