Rangers brace for Huskies

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com
Friday night the Unaka Rangers will try to bounce back from last week's disappointing loss against Hurley (Va), as they defend their home turf in the first conference game of the season.
The Rangers and North Greene will kick things off at 7:30.
Last season the Rangers traveled down to Baileyton expecting to have a good chance of defeating the Huskies, but North Greene was much too strong as it moved the ball at will in a 28-6 rout.
"There so big and physical, that we have to keep our pads low and not try to play smashmouth with them," Unaka coach said Ensor. "We cannot be stationary, but instead be a moving target coming with blitzes and just be aggressive."
It doesn't get any easier this time around, because so far the Huskies have been somewhat impressive and Unaka has continued to struggle holding onto the football.
Unaka fumbled the ball 10 times, resulting in nine turnovers last week, and if it has any chance of defeating the Huskies it definitely cannot make those same mistakes.
"I talked to several people who are in the business, and they all said they have been through it, but the one thing you don't want to do is harp on it," said Ensor. "If you put too much emphasis on it then it will get inside the kids head and make the situation worse."
Two years ago, the Rangers' only season win came against North Greene up on the creek, but for right now they just looking for turning mistakes into something positive.
"We hope to play well, but North Greene has been improving the last five or six seasons and they face the same situation as we do with having the numbers," said Ensor. "Their coach is does a good job of getting the most out of what he has."
The Rangers didn't quite get the performance from their senior leader Joey Parlier like they had hoped for against Hurley, but this was due to an unknown medical condition at the time.
"Joey has been suffering from a case of asthma, which we didn't know he had, but he's been receiving treatment and it seems to be helping," said Ensor. "He wears a chest protector so that restricts it even more, but you can count on he'll give a 190 percent regardless."
Sophomore Charles Guinn took over in the backfield to gain over 140 yards on the night, and his progress will just continue the more experience he acquires.
"That was his first time in the position of being the varsity back, and he still has a lot to learn such as holding onto the ball, but there's certain talents he possesses that cannot be taught," said Ensor.
A weak link in the Rangers' defensive scheme against Hurley was their coverage down the field, which came up to bite them in the final drive of the contest.
"There was blown coverage at the line which left us in man to man, but we've worked on it and tried to emphasize that somebody has to be there and not let that guy beat you," said Ensor. "Kids are still kids and it happens, but I think the problem will eventually take care of itself."
The Huskies grabbed their first taste of victory last week with a 27-21 win over Chuckey Doak, and they expect another tough match-up against Unaka on Friday.
"We've been pretty fortunate so far and expect to have a battle up on Stoney Creek, for I think Unaka will be ready to play us tough," said North Greene coach Tim Bailey.
The Huskies key quarterback, Dustin Collins graduated last season, but they've already seen some promise from sophomore Dusty Mill.
"He's still needs some improvement and makes mistakes from time to time, but all indications so far shows he's a real quick learner," said Bailey.
North Greene hasn't found its feature back who will carry the load on the ground, so the Rangers will probably have several runners thrown at them.
"We haven't really found that one guy to go to yet, so we've got three or four players who'll get touches, and that's helps keep everyone fresh," said Bailey.
The Husky defense has played well so far this year, but it's the mistakes on offense that have hurt them in their first two outings.
"Our defense has played well and not given up many points so far this year," said Bailey. "Our offense, on the other hand, has given up two touchdowns, with an interception coming in the first week and a fumble recovery in last week's game."
North Greene is at .500 presently, and with its first conference meeting on the agenda, looks to improve with having a winning record when they leave Stoney Creek.
"We're 1-1 right now, and I think we're farther along than what I thought we would be at this point," said Bailey.