Last call for Hampton vs. Unaka?

By Wes Holtsclaw
SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   "Would it be too much to ask for if we wanted all of the county schools to play each other during football season?"
   That was a compiled statement that I got from the majority of the people I spoke with about the new round of high school scheduling this past week.
   Come this Friday night, it will be the last time Hampton and Unaka will take the high school football field together for quite a while.
   Many of the individuals I have spoke with throughout the past two weeks have been pretty disappointed with the way scheduling has gone in this county throughout the past few seasons.
   From Cloudland not being able to fill a schedule to now with the Hampton-Unaka case, there are a lot of mad people in this county -- and it is perfectly understandable.
   From the creek's perspective, Unaka hasn't defeated Hampton in football since the 1994 season. Hampton has dominated the majority of the games against Unaka, and to some people, that along with defeats from larger schools is hurting their program.
   Unaka will be playing a strictly 1-A schedule next season, which on paper will be a way of building the program back up, putting some wins in the column and getting more support.
   Let's face it, Unaka football does not get the majority of the respect in this county -- let alone the state of Tennessee -- but with a few seasons of building and work, they can get it to a level that they wish.
   It has been said around town that Hampton may be retaliating by dropping Unaka in almost everything else. That is also understandable, since Unaka has recently had the upper hand in everything but girls basketball against the Bulldogs.
   Football is one of the sports that the Bulldog crowd could always be the favorite in, but why drop the other sports as well? I can understand the anger from both sides, especially from the basketball programs on the creek.
   It's one thing when the biggest county school drops the smallest school, but when the two populous schools in the middle cancel it out, it shakes things up and makes us question the state of the sports in this county.
   Isn't there a rule that states the county schools should play each other? Look at Greene and Sullivan counties, they all play each other. Even in Blount county, you have one of the smaller schools in the area getting hammered by a 4-A powerhouse in Maryville each year.
   Nobody is pointing any fingers here, but what happened to the great county rivalries? It appears that the only thing we'll be seeing outside of conference play in the next two years is Cloudland and Hampton during zero week.
   This basketball season was poised for greatness as each of the schools in this county -- with the exception of Elizabethton, which plays Hampton and Happy Valley -- had been scheduled to play each other. We will have to wait to see the ending results before the start of that season.
   All of this situation is leading me to some questions. What has happened to all of the mid-season games that kept us all on the edge of our seats? Who are we going to watch now during our team's offweek?
   That is a question that many people across this county have been asking, but not being vocal about it. For the sake of Carter County, I wish some things could be different.
   While I see both sides of the equation, it's really hard for me to sit back and realize what is going on. Even during my years in high school, I would love to watch Hampton and Unaka battle it out in basketball and baseball.
   And even during some years in football, the production of the matchups were high quality. It was great seeing kids playing for the school opposite of where they were supposed to go -- it just added to the equation.
   Neighbors that attended opposite schools rivaled on the court and field, but there was always a handshake after a walk next door when it was all said and done.
   But I guess things will change next season, and people wonder why the morale of the sports in this county drops. I'm going to watch Hampton and Unaka this Friday. Who knows when we will see it again?
   COUNTY MATCH-UPS
   ROCKWOOD AT HAPPY VALLEY

   This will be a big test for the Warriors, as Rockwood enters the game from the always tough region 2-2A. Although Rockwood is 3-3 with a 1-2 conference record, it will be a tough match for Happy Valley.
   If the Warriors play their 'A-Game,' they can come out with a victory in this game at home. However, Rockwood will be mad after losing to a tough Sweetwater squad. ROCKWOOD 18-14
   ELIZABETHTON VS DANIEL BOONE
   This will be an all-out blowout on Friday night. If you want to see Walter Brown add to his staggering numbers and close in to the 2,000 yard mark for the season, come out to this game. ELIZABETHTON 48-12
   JOHNSON COUNTY AT SULLIVAN EAST
   This game on paper looks to be the game of the week. Johnson County's defense has played with everyone they have had on the field this season. If they can control the passing attack, they can pull this one out. SULLIVAN EAST 14-13
   UNAKA AT HAMPTON
   This will be the last time these two face off for awhile. I wonder if J.C. Campbell will have his team fired up for this one? HAMPTON 42-21
   WESLEY'S OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: WALTER BROWN, ELIZABETHTON & MARK BYRD, CLOUDLAND
  
Brown topped the 1,000 yard mark for the season with a four-touchdown performance on 17 carries with 286 yards and a passing touchdown in Elizabethton's 48-20 win over Sullivan East. Brown has four games left in the regular season to reach his 2,000-yard goal.
   Byrd returned after missing two weeks due to surgery with a four-touchdown effort on two carries for 101 yards with a score, two for three passing with two strikes, and a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown in Cloudland's win over Jellico 62-12. Byrd was named this week's AP 1-A State Player of the Week.
   WESLEY'S DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: VINCE REDD, ELIZABETHTON & TIM WHALEY, HAPPY VALLEY
  
Redd and Whaley both had big games this week, offensively and defensively. Redd had 13 tackles and some devastating hits on the Patriot offense, while Whaley had some big hits and an interception return for a score on Chuckey-Doak.
   WESLEY'S LINEMAN OF THE WEEK: NATHANIEL BAKER, CLOUDLAND
  
Baker had a big night of blocking for the 'Landers in their 62-point first half effort over Jellico, leading to three 100-yard rushers for Cloudland. He has been a consistent player all season long and is a favorite for the post-season team.
   PICKS OF THE WEEK

   I went 15-0 last week to bring the season total to 70-15.
   Tennessee High 46, Sullivan South 22
   Sullivan Central 18, Unicoi County 7
   Sullivan North 26, Seymour 10
   South Greene 24, North Greene 11
   Jefferson County 32, Science Hill 14
   Greeneville 39, Cocke County 17
   Dobyns-Bennett 28, Sevier County 21
   Morristown West 46, David Crockett 24
   Greenback 21, Coalfield 12
   Maryville 38, Knox Carter 28