'Horns tackle Cougars in MLC opener

Photo by Dave Boyd
Johnson County quarterback Jeff Brinker had two touchdown passes in his first start last week.

By Michelle Prater-Pope
Tonight's game between the Johnson County Longhorns and the Sullivan Central Cougars should be an interesting contest for the teams and spectators alike.
With Central coming out of an opening 35-7 win over David Crockett and Johnson County boasting a 38-6 wipeout over West Greene during their season opener, both teams are pumped up and ready to lock horns on the field.
The game will be the first Mountain Lakes Conference game for both squads, and the Longhorns are looking forward to testing their strategies against some tough competition.
"They're a lot better than what we had the past week with West Greene," said 'Horns defensive coach Austin Atwood, describing the Cougars as a big, strong team. He expects to see some stiff resistance from tight end Matt Dunford.
Central's tailback, Zach Frye, has also established himself as a force to be reckoned with. In Central's game last week against David Crockett, the running back rushed for more than 150 yards, averaging 10 yards per carry.
Central has proved that it can hold their own when it comes to defense, and will most certainly exercise that strength over Johnson County.
"We feel pretty good," said Central coach Mike Cooks. "Johnson County's got a good team. We'll see what happens when we line up and go at it."
Holding the Pioneers at bay with a 14-7 score at halftime two weeks ago, Central turned on the intensity in the second half. The defense held firm against David Crockett's offense, after quarterback Josh Longworth's 82-yard run put a touchdown on the board for the Pioneers.
The renewed defensive aggression gave the Cougars' offense the opportunity to score three more touchdowns, finishing up the game with a 35-7 win.
Tyler Harvey will be the starting quarterback for the Cougars. "He throws pretty well," said Cooks. "We moved the ball pretty well offensively [last week], so we were pleased with that."
However, Cooks said that Central, despite the win over David Crockett, made a lot of mistakes.
"We hope to improve on that," he said. "Most of the mistakes were fumbles and missed assignments. We hope we get better at it."
Though Johnson County's win over the West Greene Buffaloes last week boosted the confidence of the Longhorns and satisfied their craving to get out of practice and into an actual game, Austin Atwood knows that the 'Horns will not be able to let down their guard.
"We're going to try to execute a little better and play a lot better," said Atwood.
After a 1-9 season last year, the Longhorns are confident that they'll turn the tables on their opponents this year. The 'Horns started out on the right track, getting 308 total yards in their opener against West Greene, including 232 rushing yards.
"We felt pretty good about the win," Atwood said. "We were a little worried about the young kids, like Jeffrey just being a sophomore, but they really stepped up and played well. I feel really good about the young kids."
Jeffrey Brinker, who had his first varsity start as quarterback last weekend, made two scoring passes in the first half of the game, with the second going to Jesse Jenkins.
Prudhomme also dazzled the competition, catching Brinker's first TD pass as well as successfully kicking all five extra points and a field goal.
Feeling both nervous and enthusiastic, the Longhorns are eagerly awaiting kickoff time at 7:30.
"They're a different type of team, a different style of team," Atwood said. "We just hope we can make adjustments for it."
Likewise, Central knows its competition will be tougher this time.
"They have good running backs, and their defense is aggressive. They've got some good kids," Cooks said of Johnson County.
"We just hope we play well. Johnson County has a good team, and we have a good team. It will probably be a battle."