Junior Bulldogs thwart Happy Valley

Photo by Dave Boyd
Hampton running back Jarred Irick busts through the middle on a carry.

By Wes Holtsclaw
Like much of their season to this point, the Hampton Junior Bulldogs kept rolling Thursday night.
Despite the charge of Happy Valley's defense, the host 'Dogs pulled off some long touchdown runs to pull away for a 32-6 victory at J.C. Campbell Stadium.
"We got out to a real good start," said Hampton coach Kelly Oliver. "We didn't get to play last Tuesday, but they're ready now and peaking at the right time."
"We just had to back up and re-group," he said. "The team did a good job of staying focused. They're growing up and they're growing up at the right time. It doesn't matter who we're playing now. They've learned how to get ready and that's really important."
Dustin Jaynes totaled 100 yards on the ground for Hampton, while Jarred Irick accounted for two scores in the contest.
"I didn't think we played as bad a ball game defensively in some ways," said Happy Valley coach Alex Payne. "But we kind of improved a little in the second quarter. Our linebackers didn't come out doing the best, but they came on as the game went on."
"Hampton's a very tough football team and they're well-coached and a classy group. He's got a lot to be proud of there. We've got to keep that in mind how good of a team we went up against. I'm proud our kids. We bounced back a little bit in the second half."
It took the 'Dogs three plays in the first quarter to reach the end zone as Jaynes sprinted 25 yards for the first score of the game.
Hampton's defense was tough throughout the game, but Happy Valley's made the biggest stand when they held the host squad four downs late in the quarter.
After holding things to begin the second, Jaynes made two solid runs before Irick took a 15-yarder to paydirt, with a Jaynes run making the score 16-0.
On the Warriors' next possession, a fumble to Brooks Price put Hampton in solid position again. Price powered on a four-yard run up the middle for the touchdown.
Another defensive hold put Hampton in position, this time when Irick took a run five yards to the outside and into the end zone to make it 32-0 at the half.
Happy Valley blasted back in the second half with some big runs from Jesse Richardson. However, turnovers and tough defense courtesy of Hampton's David Caldwell and Bradley Mizzell hurt the squad.
The Junior Warriors capped their season on a scoring note in the fourth quarter, as their last drive of the season led to a two-yard punch-in from Richardson to make it 32-6.
Aside from the tough challenge throughout the season, Payne was pleased with his squad's focus.
"It hasn't been the best season for us, but on the other hand, I'm really proud of some of these kids," the Warrior coach said. "Particularly the ones who've never played before for coming out here and staying with it."
"We've not had a drop in numbers, we haven't lost a lot of kids and I think they've got the potential to be good high school players. I just hope they learned something from us. I'm proud of the kids and the staff. I'm proud of Coach Wandell, Coach Hilton and Coach Jarrett for helping out and working with these kids to the last day."
Up next for the Junior Bulldogs is a long-awaited battle with the Unaka Junior Rangers.
"We're not going to change anything," Oliver added. "We do what we do and if they stop us, they deserve to beat us. They're a good team and they've proved that. We can't change anything now."
Michael Stone led the Junior Warriors with 33 yards on the ground, while Richardson pounded away 28.