Warriors ready for road trip

By JEFF BIRCHFIELD
STAR STAFF

   Happy Valley (4-2) gets their first taste of an out-of-area opponent Friday night when they travel to Rockwood (2-4) to take on the Region 2-2A Tigers.
   The Warriors are currently riding a three-game winning streak including a big Watauga Conference game over Chuckey-Doak 27-14 last Friday night.
   It was the offensive line (Matt Walsh, John Hughes, Daniel Dover, Josh Smith, Jordan Fenner, Kenneth Campbell, Cane Cannon, Forrest Holt and Jesse Bowers) that led the charge last week against the Black Knights.
   "They did a very nice job," commented Happy Valley head coach Stan Ogg about his line . "We got people blocked and moved them out of the way. It had a lot to do with the success of the running game."
   That blocking led to 400 yards on the ground mostly by the starting backfield of Lamar Rollins, Cody Cannon and Stephen Thompson. On the season, the Warriors are the top offensive team in Region 1-2A averaging over 300 yards per game, with 252 of those rushing yards.
   Despite having the smallest enrollment of any Class 2-A school in the state with 364 students, Rockwood is blessed with some top-notch athletes. The best of these may be wide receiver Bryan Boston, who has caught three touchdown passes in the Tigers' last two games.
   Other players leading the Tigers are running backs Preston Gallaher and Josh Weatherly and quarterback Phillip Isham. "We're predominately a running team," admitted Rockwood head coach John Webb. "But on a good night, we like to throw around ten times a game. We do a little of both throwing the ball, some short passing and some long routes."
   While vary of the Tigers potential air assault, Ogg insists that his Tribe won't be intimidated. "They might throw it more than some of the ones we played," said the HV coach. "But, they don't throw it any more than Elizabethton or West Greene. They've got a good quarterback and good receivers. They have really good skill people."
   After starting the season with wins over Midway and Wartburg Central, Rockwood has dropped four straight contests. None was more heartbreaking than last week when Josh Stover's 35-yard field goal with 35 seconds left, lifted Sweetwater to a 38-35 win over the Tigers.
   "I know Happy Valley has a good football team, but we've played some good people the last four weeks," Webb remarked. "We got some things going offensively. When we held onto the football, I felt good about the way we played."
   There is recent history between the two schools with Happy Valley winning a 1997 second-round playoff game 17-6, that Rockwood avenged one year later by a score of 14-7.
   "We had two good football games with them up here," said Ogg. "When we had that team in '97 that won 12 ballgames, we still feel like they was the best team we played. They weren't the ones that beat us, but they physically were the toughest.
   "They're not as big as that this season, but they have some speed. The next year, we just made too many mistakes and they capitalized on it. We ran out of time on the 15-yard line down a touchdown. We had two exciting games with them."
   For Rockwood, much of their motivation is directed toward putting together a complete game. "We played real good defense at the first of the season," explained Webb. "Right now, we're not playing good defense. We have been playing real well offensively. We haven't had a game where we put it all together."
   Whether the Tigers can put all together will be determined on Friday night when they play host to the Warriors with the kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m..