G-Pittman lays in  wait for Warriors

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   Next season in the Watauga Conference, two new faces come to town.
   The Happy Valley Warriors will tangle with one of them this week up in the Smokey Mountains, when they face 3-A power Gatlinburg-Pittman on Friday night.
   "They're very talented, physical and quick," said Happy Valley coach Stan Ogg. "They are well-coached, and they've got their motors running these past two weeks.
   "They're the same Gatlinburg-Pittman it's always been. They run it between the tackles, and they've got quickness."
   The Warriors are coming off of a hard week of action against Rockwood, where they were defeated 34-7 at home.
   "We don't like losing, and we can't wait for the next Friday to try to atone," Ogg said. "They whipped us, and we know it."
   Pittman has been playing exceptionally in 3-A this season, with its only losses coming to 2-A Sweetwater (27-0), and on the road to 1-A Christ Presbyterian Academy (32-12).
   However, the Highlanders have been posting big numbers in the first half, only allowing 27 points in the first and second quarters all year.
   They are led by a strong Ben Hess at tailback, and Toby Kirkland behind the center. Hess has carried the ball 109 times for 639 yards this season, while Kirkland is 30 of 56 with 420 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions through the air.
   Defensively, they turn to some quick guys like Sean Rosenthal and Daniel Mitchell, who both have 50 tackles thus far in the season.
   Happy Valley will enter the contest once again without its senior signal-caller, Lamar Rollins, with freshman Todd Caldwell once again taking the reigns.
   "He's getting better, he's young and learning," said Ogg. "It's tough for him to go in like we were able to do with Lamar. It's tough to start and I'm proud of him. He held up well last week.
   "It's good for him to see a game at that speed. He's a hard worker, and a good young man."
   The Warriors will rely on their other two studs in the backfield, Tim Whaley and Cody Cannon. Whaley had an exceptional game on defense last Friday, with 21 tackles and two sacks against Rockwood.
   Said Whaley: "We've gotta have 100 percent from everybody, and if we play like we can, we can come out with it. If not, then we'll feel like we do now next week."
   "Well, we're banged up," said Cannon. "We had some hard decisions to make last Friday, because we were close. We played well, and I hope we try to play to our capability. Maybe we'll have a shot at beating them."
   The Highlanders will be invading the Watauga Conference next season with the new Cumberland Gap school. Ogg believes it will help the conference in a good way.
   "They bring quality, but the only negative is to travel," Ogg said. "There are others that have to do worse than we will. They are a quality team with a quality tradition. They're gonna come in believing that they can win it.
   "They add a lot of credibility. Maybe we've got a head start, not going in there blind. But right now, we're just trying to get these guys ready to come out against them this Friday."
   Game time is set for 7:30 in Gatlinburg.