Longhorns lay in wait for Warriors

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   MOUNTAIN CITY--It was a night for the Happy Valley football program to remember. It was a night that the Johnson County football program is trying to forget.
   Last year's contest between the Happy Valley Warriors and the Johnson County Longhorns was a 35-0 Warrior domination of the 'Horns. Johnson County will look to erase those memories Friday night when the two teams face off at Paul H. McEwen Stadium.
   Kickoff for homecoming night at Johnson County will be at 7:30 p.m. Happy Valley comes into the non-conference contest at 2-2 overall, while the 'Horns are 1-3.
   Johnson County head coach Mike Atwood thinks his team will be out for revenge.
   "We've tried to forget about that," Atwood said. "They physically beat us and mentally beat us. We kind of feel like we owe them. That was embarrassing.
   "A lot of our guys are back and they remember it. That was a horsewhipping, that's for sure."
   Happy Valley head coach Stan Ogg would love nothing more than a repeat performance of last September's game.
   "We played very well that night," Ogg said. "We played very good defense. We really harassed the quarterback quite a bit. We scored when we needed to. Things went our way, but we played very well. I didn't remember how well we had played. We had a lot of people doing things right that night."
   Looking at the 2002 contest, this game figures to be a battle between Happy Valley's explosive offense and Johnson County's stud defense.
   Happy Valley's Tim Whaley rushed for 236 yards in a 28-21 win over a much-improved West Greene team last week, while Cody Cannon and quarterback Lamar Rollins had 120 and 60 yards rushing, respectively. Whaley's efforts earned him the Class 2A state Player-of-the-Week.
   "We gave Tim the ball, but he just ran and ran and ran," Ogg said. "Tim and Cody were about three carries apart. Other than that they were pretty close to the same number of carries. Tim had some bigger runs, but Cody had some very nice and important runs, some good first downs.
   "Lamar had a big run at the end of the game. He didn't have a lot of offense, but we weren't asking him to do a whole lot. And a lot of the 230 that Tim Whaley had, Cody was getting that linebacker isolated. And of course the line, we had five people and a tight end just basically moving people out of the way. They did a very nice job up front."
   On the flip side, Johnson County's defense has given up one touchdown in the last two games.
   Last week the Longhorn defense, led by Aaron Payne, Adam Leonard, Matt Dunn and Justin Bishop, held Unicoi County to 144 yards total offense in a 6-0 overtime win against the Blue Devils. But Atwood knows this unit will get to see what its made of Friday night against the explosive HV offense.
   "They're the three best backs we've faced all year," Atwood said about Whaley, Cannon and Rollins. "We have to stop that option, and not let Lamar go wild on us. So far this year, I think it's the most explosive offense we've faced."
   Despite needing a touchdown in overtime to win against Unicoi County, the Longhorn offense seems to be getting itself in gear.
   Against the Blue Devils, Jason Poteet was moved to quarterback, while Adam Johnson was moved from quarterback to tailback. Johnson was a workhorse, as he rushed for 135 yards on 33 carries.
   Payne also contributed to the increased offensive output by rushing for 103 yards on 12 carries. He also scored the only touchdown of the game.
   Atwood knows the Longhorns will not only have to keep putting out the yards, but will also have to score some points in order to win.
   "We're going to have to have our best offensive game, and have our best defensive game," Atwood said. "They're probably going to score more points than anybody we've faced."
   Despite the Longhorns scoring no more than two touchdowns in a game this season, Ogg is still worried about the Longhorn offense.
   "They've moved it," Ogg said. "They've been their own worst enemy sometimes. They turned the ball over several times against Erwin. But they move the ball well. They get behind that big offensive line and they get outside, and they look like they have some decent speed when they get out there. Actually it looks pretty good."
   The Longhorns will be going up against a Happy Valley defense led by Cannon. Cannon joined Whaley in racking up honors by winning the Star's Player-of-the-Week, mostly due to his 12-tackle game and being a dominant force as a linebacker.
   "Defensively is where Cody helps the team," Atwood said. "He's good on offense, but on defense he runs the show."
   Jordy Harrison and Daniel Dover lead an impressive Happy Valley line that also has Atwood concerned.
   Both teams should be riding high going into the contest after pulling out good wins last week. Ogg is hoping to keep the momentum going.
   "Anytime you win, it helps your program," Ogg said. "Obviously your kids feel better. Everybody feels better when they win than they do when they lose. We want to get better, correct the problems that we had last week, and keep doing the things that worked. We have to keep getting better, because the schedule just doesn't get any easier."
   As for Johnson County, Atwood knows this is a rivalry game that the Longhorns need not only to gain confidence, but also for pride.
   "This is a rivalry for us," Atwood said. "We've played them ever since I've been in school. This is a pride game for us."