Jr. Warriors top  'Landers, 30-16

By Marvin Birchfield

   The Jr. Warriors continued their winning ways by scalping Cloudland in a 30-16 Little Watauga Conference football final Tuesday night on Warrior Hill.
   Happy Valley is off to a 3-0 start, and the way they're playing at the moment it will be tough for any other team to dethrone the conference champs.
   "We had to get on them and fire them up a little bit to start the ball game, but overall we're happy and I'm glad to be 3-0 right now," said Happy Valley Jr. High coach Alex Payne.
   The Warriors got off to a quick start in their first set of downs, as on the second play of the game Logan Birchfield busted up the middle to run a 56-yard touchdown.
   Birchfield added the two-point conversion off a run to give the Warriors an early lead of 8-0.
   Cloudland struck back by pounding the ball down the field, and capped off the drive with a five-yard run from Jared Kodak.
   The two-point conversion was successful on a run from Kodak to tie the score midway through the first quarter.
   "Offensively we had to overcome some cramps and injuries, but defensively we didn't get off to a good start and we had to make some adjustments," said Payne.
   The Warriors responded on their next possession with the same play and tailback, as Birchfield ripped off a 46-yard touchdown run up the gut.
   "He's always a gamer and always gives us a big performance if possible, and if not he gives a 110 percent regardless," said Payne.
   Happy Valley enjoyed a 14-8 lead to end the first period of play, but the 'Landers were hanging tough.
   Cloudland was starting to drive in the second period, only to stall after getting past midfield.
   Facing a fourth down and seven, the 'Landers elected to go for it, but were denied after a tackle by Adam Black stopped Josh Harrison before he got started out of the backfield.
   Another big run came for Happy Valley, when Jordan Lewis got hand-off on the end around and sprinted to a 57 yard touchdown.
   The Warriors were threatening again after a blocked punt by Brandon Jaynes turned the ball over at the Happy Valley 19 yard-line.
   "We had a few mistakes on the blocked punt and a couple of fumbles, but besides that we were in the game," said Cloudland Jr. High coach Robbie Turbyfill.
   Next play, Francisco Borquez scampered to a 19-yard touchdown, but it was called back due to a holding call by the Warriors.
   Cloudland was able to escape any damage, after Harrison broke up a pass intended for Lewis on fourth and long.
   Happy Valley had another chance to score before the half, when Shane Bell recovered a fumble on the Warrior 23 yard-line.
   The Warriors came up short before the half ended, though, when Caleb Johnson lost sight of the pass from Daniel Shankle while looking back into the sun around the goal.
   Happy Valley came out after the half to score on its first possession as Shankle took the snap and marched straight ahead to make it first and goal off of a 15-yard run.
   Two more carries by Shankle put the Warriors in the end zone on a 1-yard quarterback sneak.
   "We really need to work on our tackling up the gut, and on our corners coming up containing the pitch," said Turbyfill.
   Cloudland was able to punch it down inside the 10-yard line after a couple of nice carries by Kodak and Rodney Hill.
   The 'Landers were stopped shy, when Bell made the tackle on Kodak on a fourth and goal attempt.
   Bell had a nice defensive effort for Happy Valley, as he was all over the field making tackles throughout the game.
   "Shane Bell transferred in at the start of the season and is still learning the system, but he had a great ball game for us and really stepped it up," said Payne.
   Cloudland finally scored in the fourth quarter with just under a minute left.
   A 40-yard pass from Logan Buck to Harrison set up a seven-yard touchdown pass to Kodak.
   "I'm really proud of Adam Buck. I've asked him to step in for my injured quarterback, and on a couple of drives toward the end he looked great," said Turbyfill.
   The 'Landers went for the onsides kick and recovered it at their own 48 yard-line. The Warriors ended their chance of getting another score when Borquez intercepted a pass from Buck intended for Kodak.
   "The one thing I'm impressed with is my guys didn't hang their heads and quit, and they stuck in it and played the whole game well," said Turbyfill.