Holtsclaw predicts county-wide victories



  There's a different trend in the area's prep football teams this season.
  Three teams that haven't been known for plentiful success in the win column over the past couple of years have become the teams to watch with unbeaten 3-0 records.
  Of course, I'm talking about Johnson County and Sullivan East in the Mountain Lakes Conference, and Unaka in the Mountain East.
  The Longhorns are ranked 12th in the state this week after a 20-7 victory at Hampton, and could continue to boost its momentum with a conference win at home against the Unicoi County Devils.
  Mike Atwood's team is talented across the board, but one player who has stood out above the others is senior tailback T.R. Smith.
  Smith has a combined 430 rushing yards with four third-quarter scores in the last two games.
  Defensively, the 'Horns are strong and all signs point that this could be a solid playoff-bound season.
  Matt Eads to Wes Spurgeon has become a familiar call for the Sullivan East Patriots.
  The solid quarterback-receiver duo has led the team's offensive explosion this season. The Patriots looked sharp last week in a 54-22 victory against Volunteer, with the senior signal caller Eads grabbing 231 yards through the air with 100 on the ground.
  Spurgeon had 178 of those yards receiving with two scores.
  Many people believe Eads is the top prep quarterback in the area this season, and with his solid play leading the 13th ranked Pats, the Bluff City faithful will also contend for the playoffs this season.
  Speaking of an explosive offense, the Unaka Rangers are loaded at the skill positions this season. John Zimmerman has turned heads at quarterback with a solid receiving threat in senior Daniel McInturff.
  On the ground, Charles Lee Guinn is leading the charge with three-straight 100-yard games, while a solid backing core of underclassmen stand eager to shine on Friday nights.
  One thing that helps the Rangers is solid leadership in the line with Brent Huskins and Travis Pasquale. Unaka is off to a solid start and they hope to do big things against Twin Springs, Virginia this week.
  GAMES OF THE WEEK
  ELIZABETHTON AT SULLIVAN SOUTH -- The Cyclones keep getting better. Lets hope they continue the momentum after last week's win against Happy Valley. CYCLONES 24-10
  UNICOI COUNTY AT JOHNSON COUNTY -- The Longhorns are out to prove that their 3-0 record is not a fluke. I expect a tough challenge from the Devils in the rivalry game at Mountain City. 'HORNS 18-14
  HAPPY VALLEY AT GATLINBURG-PITTMAN -- Can Happy Valley recover after a week scarred by turnovers? It will be tough against a solid Highlander team on the road. I foresee a good challenge from the Warriors, but Benny Hammonds' unit may be too much. HIGHLANDERS 26-20
  HAMPTON AT WEST GREENE -- Although West Greene has taken four straight on the chin, the improving Buffaloes could give the Bulldogs all they want.
  But I think Hampton will regain some confidence with a solid conference win. 'DOGS 30-8
  NORTH GREENE AT CLOUDLAND -- Cloudland has won nine straight against the Huskies dating back to 1993. With North Greene quarterback Dusty Neal returning to the field, it may be tough for the 'Landers to make it ten this year.
  My gut feeling is that they can. 'LANDERS 16-14, OT
  UNAKA AT TWIN SPRINGS, VA -- The Unaka Rangers may have a tough time this week as former Volunteer standout Chucky Lindholm is at the helm of Twin Springs' offense this season.
  Twin Springs is off to a 2-1 start, averaging 22.7 points-per-game while giving up an even 16. The team's 41-16 loss to Chilhowee last week may fire them up against Unaka.
  But I see the Rangers getting some payback this year. RANGERS 21-12
  Other Regional Games of Interest
  Sullivan East 24, Sullivan Central 14
  Dobyns-Bennett 32, Jefferson County 20
  Maryville 24, Morristown West 18
  Alcoa 30, Sweetwater 17
  Morristown East 10, Cocke County 0
  Greeneville 23, Cherokee 13
  Tennessee High 36, Daniel Boone 10
  Volunteer 33, David Crockett 22
  OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
  Week Two: John Zimmerman, Unaka - The Ranger signal caller was 4-of-9 with 180 yards and two scores through the air in Unaka's 35-14 victory against the North Greene Huskies.
  Week Three: T.R. Smith, Johnson County - Smith grabbed 192 yards on the ground with two scores in the third quarter during the Longhorns' 20-7 win at Hampton.
  DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
  Week Two: Happy Valley defensive front - Warriors gave up just 69 yards on the ground in a 34-7 win against West Greene.
  Week Three: Charles Peters & Levi Hooten, Elizabethton - Each returned an interception for a score in Elizabethton's 23-0 shutout win against Happy Valley.