Explosive Jellico too  strong for Rangers

By Marvin Birchfield

   JELLICO--On Friday night, the Rangers versus the Blue Devils part II took place. Unaka was once again cast down, this time by Jellico, in a 47-21 Region 1-A final.
   "We played hard and we're better than last week, not much by looking at the score but better," said Unaka head coach Mike Ensor.
   The Rangers (0-1, 0-2) looked ready to start the game by forcing Jellico to go three and out on their first series on offense.
   Unaka wasn't able to get its offense rolling on its first possession, as three straight handoffs to Joey Parlier came up two yards shy of the first.
   On Jellico's next series, it showed its strength in the backfield by giving it to William Kellogg, who took it on six carries for 55 yards for the score.
   A nine-yard run by Kellogg up the middle put the Blue Devils on top, where they never slowed down afterwards.
   "We played a lot better than we did last week, and we stayed on them and got them down to finish the job," said Jellico coach Ronnie Lasley.
   Unaka found its in trouble on its next possession, when Jeremy Cook dropped back for a pass and was blindsided by Taylor Mitchell, causing a fumble.
   The Blue Devils recovered the ball on their own 27-yard line, and connected on the next play with a touchdown pass from Josh Sharp to Kevin Swafford.
   The Rangers had a nice drive going toward the end of the quarter, then disaster struck when Tory Morton fumbled on Jellico's 30 yard-line.
   "You can't turn the ball over to an explosive team, and turnovers killed us to a point, along with blown assignments in crucial situations," said Ensor.
   After the Blue Devils' recovery they gave it to Kellogg, who made a 44-yard run by breaking four or five tackles to end the quarter take a 13-0 lead.
   Jellico fumble the ball to start the second quarter, as Steven Barclay was stripped and Cody Hurley came up with the recovery on Unaka's 11 yard-line.
   The Ranger offense stalled after five plays, which forced them to punt, and a shank by Brent Huskins gave the Blue Devils excellent field position.
   One play later, Jellico scored its third touchdown when Sharp hooked up with Kellogg on a 30 yard toss.
   "We've got some good skilled people, and we match-up pretty good, but our line is a little weak and we're working on that," said Lasley.
   The Rangers came back with a nice drive before going cold after crossing midfield.
   An attempted pass from Cook to Josh Blevins had six wrote all over it, but the receiver couldn't quite hang on for the completion.
   Sharp connected with Kellogg again on a screen pass that went 45 yards for the score.
   Things started getting out of control for the Rangers before the end of the half, as a kickoff to Hurley was fumbled, giving the Blue Devils another chance to add on to their 28-0 lead.
   Next play, Sharp threw his fourth touchdown of the night when he dropped it in over the right shoulder of Swafford streaking down the left sideline.
   "We really executed our passing game, and I think we threw the first four or five without dropping one, and Josh Sharp does a really good job at reading the defense and going to the open man," said Lasley.
   Unaka attempted to get on the board before the end of the half, but Cook threw an interception to Sharp with time running out.
   In the second half, Brandon Irick replaced Cook at quarterback due to a hand injury suffered in the first-half.
   "Cook might have broke his finger and he couldn't grip the ball, but he played with it, and Irick did a good job at replacing him," said Ensor.
   The Rangers grabbed their first score when Irick took the quarterback draw and busted a 47-yard touchdown run.
   Unaka's offense was solid all night, but the defense didn't have any answers for the Blue Devil offense.
   "We still seem to get pushed around on defense. When somebody runs at us we can't stop them," said Lasley.
   Chris Morgan sprinted to a 33-yard touchdown to take back the momentum the Rangers had gained.
   Jellico scored its last touchdown after a muffed catch by Charles Guinn on a punt return handed the ball back to the Blue Devils.
   Two plays later, Matt Ivey ran it in from three yards out, giving them a commanding lead of 47-7.
   Unaka put together a drive on its next possession after a 34-yard run came from Morton.
   Parlier finished the drive off with a 10-yard run up the gut, followed by a two-point conversion on a pass from Irick to Blevins.
   "I blasted Joey Parlier last week in the paper, but I will brag on him right now," Ensor said. "He played his tail off."
   The Rangers struck again before the end of the game, after a couple of nice carries by Guinn set up a 13-yard touchdown run from Parlier.
   "Joey came out and ran tough but the thing that goes unnoticed is he blocks well, also," said Ensor.
   Unaka ended the night with 333 yards on the ground, but gave up a total of 393 yards on defense.
   "I'm not looking on to next year," Ensor said. "We've got eight games left, but we'll have 17 seniors next season, so it's a big difference."