Jr. Warriors streak past Unaka

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   The Happy Valley Jr. Warriors kept on stride by outmatching the Unaka Rangers in a 44-12 final at Goddard Field on Tuesday night.
   The Warriors celebrated first place on the regular season, as they finished with the record of 8-1.
   "I'm awful proud of our team and staff, not just that we've come as far as we have, but they've been good practice players and citizens," said Happy Valley coach Alex Payne. "I hope we can go a little farther."
   Unaka closed out its season at 0-9.
   In its possession, Happy Valley struck with a 40-yard touchdown run from Will Lowe to give themselves an early advantage in the contest.
   Chris Rutledge then elected to try the onside kick, which was successful, as the Warriors recovered the ball on their own 40.
   It was Todd Caldwell who took to the air, and hooked up with Rutledge for a 60-yard touchdown pass that increased the Warriors lead to 14-0 with 4:59 left in the first quarter.
   The Rangers couldn't seem to buy a break in the early going as Noah Cole fumbled the kickoff return, with B.J. Townsend making the recovery.
   Ryan Garland took it across the goal from 18 yards out, which gave the Warriors their third touchdown on the evening.
   It was almost another mistake that occurred on the kickoff again, when Joseph Sheets fumbled, but fortunately recovered the ball on Unaka's own 36-yard line.
   Finally, the Rangers got a break when Cole busted up through the middle to capture a 64-yard touchdown run, and the Rangers trailed 20-6 with 3:40 still left in the first quarter.
   It didn't take the Warriors long to respond. Garland broke off a 50-yard run to score his second touchdown on the night.
   After stopping the Rangers on three-and-out, Happy Valley capitalized again on a bad snap to the punter that gave the Warriors excellent field position on Unaka's 25.
   Lowe put together a couple of good runs, ending with a 5-yard surge into the end zone, and capping the first quarter at 32-6 in favor of the Warriors.
   Unaka was able to keep Happy Valley off the board in the second, primarily by sustaining a drive which consumed almost entirely the whole second quarter of play.
   Randall Guy took a hard shot in the third quarter that sprung the ball free, with Logan Birchfield getting the recovery for the Warriors.
   Garland acquired his third touchdown of the night coming on a run from six yards away to stretch the lead to 38-6.
   Happy Valley answered again in the fourth quarter, when Rutledge fumbled the hand-off, but managed to pick it up and score from seven yards out.
   The Rangers got their second big run on the night, when Cole took the carry, and sprinted to a seventy yard touchdown with 5:19 left in the game.
   "I thought we moved the football pretty well, but defensively we didn't get the job done," said Unaka coach Gary Lewis.
   The Warriors next opponent will be against the Johnson County Longhorns in the conference championship game next Tuesday at Happy Valley.
   "We're going to do the best we can, but somebody's got to lose and (Johnson County) Coach (Delza) Noble is going to be ready," Payne said. "Johnson County is very physical."