Warriors take charge on lines, top Longhorns

Photo by Dave Boyd
Happy Valley quarterback Todd Caldwell goes up the middle for a touchdown.

By Jeff Birchfield
One of the most popular rock bands today is "Three Doors Down." If Happy Valley's football team had been a musical act Friday night, they could have been labeled "Three Yards Back."
Playing in front of what was estimated as the largest crowd ever for a HV homecoming game, the Warriors controlled both lines of scrimmage in a 20-7 win over Johnson County.
"We tackled them and got them down where they didn't get yards," said HV senior lineman Josh Smith, a key cog in a defensive effort that gave up a scant 61 rushing yards. "I didn't get a chance to look at the scouting report, but they weren't as tough up front as I expected.
"They weren't as big as I thought, but they were a little faster. I thought we had a good team, but last week, we all played like crap (in a loss to Gatlinburg)."
With players looking to rectify last week's outcome, the Warriors tallied 242 yards of total offense, 97 more than Johnson County.
"It's always very good to win your homecoming," said Happy Valley coach Stan Ogg. "Our kids outplayed Mountain City. They earned it and we were proud of them.
"We wanted to establish running the football, and defensively we played awfully well. We kept a lot of pressure on the quarterback and were able to get three interceptions."
A key figure in establishing the running game was tailback Tim Whaley, who returned from a suspension the previous week. Whaley came back with a vengeance, carrying the ball 24 times for 124 yards and a touchdown.
"Oh, gosh, it was good being back out there," said Whaley. "I just have to keep my head. I know I have a temper, but I want to apologize to everyone for missing two games this season. These guys on the team and the coaches are keeping after me. We're playing hard. It was a terrible loss last week, but we're coming back and going 9 and 1."
When tough interior defense forced the Longhorns to attack the outside perimeter, HV's defensive backs like Brian Black were ready to pounce.
"We just tried hard tonight," said Black, who also recorded his first pick of the season. "We worked hard in practice, conditioning for tonight. Our inside guys did an excellent job and the secondary played great. We wanted to make our mark tonight."
After forcing Johnson County to go three and out on its first offensive possession, Happy Valley went 63-yards downfield on their own opening drive. A 10-yard setback for a holding penalty preceded four Whaley scampers that netted 33 yards, and two completions from Caldwell. The first pass was good for 28 yards to Drew Davis, the second was a 5-yard TD strike to Will Lowe.
Casey Shatley came in with the extra-point to put the Warriors on top 7-0 with 6:32 remaining in the first quarter.
The Warriors handed out another heavy dose of Whaley on their first series of the second quarter. A 10-play, 55-yard drive was culminated when Whaley ran in from six yards out. Another Shatley PAT had the Warriors with a 14-0 advantage.
Happy Valley was in position to add to the lead further near the end of the half after a 12-yard pass from Caldwell to Whaley. However, Nathan Paisley picked off a Caldwell pass on the next play and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown with no time remaining on the clock. Ian Prudhomme added the point after, making it a 14-7 game going into intermission.
Paisley was a bright spot for Johnson County. Besides the interception return, he also caught two passes for 50 yards and tallied 56 yards on kick and punt returns.
"When I made that interception, I was just trying to get us back in the game," said Paisley. "When I caught the ball, I just tried to put the team in scoring position and put points on the board. When we came into the locker room at the half, we had more intensity.
"We pushed things on offense, but things didn't work out. We never gave up, but we did get a little down on ourselves. Happy Valley was the most physically and mentally challenging team we've played all year."
The outcome was cemented by a time-consuming 68-yard scoring drive in the third quarter that put the Warriors in command. Jordy Harrison made two key blocks on the possession. He opened a hole for Whaley on a fourth-and-one, then encored with a pancake that paved the way for a Caldwell short gain.
"We got an unbelievable push," said Harrison. "We work on it all the time with coach (Drew) Pettit. He did a good job getting us prepared for this. The front line is unbelievable. I'm just so happy to play with these guys."
Caldwell capped off the drive with a one-yard quarterback keeper and a 20-7 HV lead. The Warrior defense held tough in the final quarter, as Davis ended Johnson County's last scoring threat by intercepting a Jeffrey Brinker pass. It was another exceptional night for Davis, whose two interceptions gave a total of six on the season.
With their win over the 'Horns, Happy Valley (5-1) now has wins over both leaders of the 4-A Mountain Lakes Conference.
"Offensively we didn't play well at all and defensively we missed a few assignments," said Johnson County coach Mike Atwood. "We couldn't get anything going. We planned for Whaley, but we couldn't stop him.
"Happy Valley's short passing game is pretty good, too. I thought their quarterback did a good job with the offense."
Top Longhorn efforts included Tony Smith with 35 rushing yards on 14 carries, Brinker completing six passes for 84 yards and defensive tackle Adam Johnson making two tackles for losses.
Johnson County (3-2) will hope to bounce this coming Friday in their own homecoming matchup against Daniel Boone. That same night, the Warriors will close out their 2003 home season in a Senior Night game versus Cumberland Gap.