Jr. 'Dogs dominate Johnson County

Photo By Rick Harris
The Hampton offense enjoyed a productive night against Johnson County.

By Wes Holtsclaw
The rain came to the Little Watauga Conference Championship game Tuesday night and so did the Hampton Junior Bulldog defense.
In conditions that made people question why they would play the game, the Junior 'Dogs battled through nature's distractions, using defense to set up a 38-8 victory at J.C. Campbell Stadium.
They are the first squad to finish unbeaten since Cloudland did it in 1999 behind the same group of kids who are now seniors on the high school squad.
"They came to play and they've came to play all year," said Hampton coach Kelly Oliver of his team. "At the first of the year we didn't always come out and they've grown into men. I guess since Mark (Byrd's) team went the distance, there's not been a team run the table. So it's okay to put in there that we finished 10-0."
"I'm proud of them," he said. "The defense brought it tonight and the offense in these conditions brought it. They really stood up and you can't single any of them out."
Hampton used two blocked punts and took advantage of the Longhorns' early offensive mishaps to pull away with things, despite a 100-yard rushing performance from Johnson County's Tyler Leonard.
But the Junior Bulldogs had big rushing games of their own as Brooks Price, Jarred Irick and Little Watauga MVP Dustin Jaynes all scored on long runs.
"It wasn't good for us," said Johnson County coach Delza Noble. "Kelly (Oliver) did a good job all year with his kids and they looked really good tonight. They showed why they were undefeated, because they kicked the crap out of us.
"We were fired up and we thought we would be all right, then they got those two blocked punts and it went downhill from there," he said. "That ain't nobody's fault but our own. The weather didn't help, but we had bad snaps. There were a lot of mistakes, but we've made them all year and we were lucky to finish second."
After some solid defense from both clubs to open the game, it was Hampton which drew the first blow during Johnson County's first possession.
After three solid stops, David Caldwell broke through the Junior Longhorn line, blocking a punt and turning it 56 yards to score.
The conversion run was halted to give Hampton a 6-0 edge halfway through the first period.
Johnson County took the ball back and had some solid gains from Tyler Leonard, including a first down that was called back on a holding penalty.
In what was reminiscent of their previous attempt, the Horns' punt was blocked again. This time Hampton's Irick took a hold of it at the Johnson County 25.
After a three-yard gain from Jaynes, Price busted through the middle of the Longhorn defense with a 21-yard score on the first play of the second quarter. A Jaynes conversion put Hampton on top 14-0.
Hampton's defense came to the fore when Leonard missed an option pitch from Longhorn quarterback Austin Phipps. The squad swarmed for a 10-yard loss to give the Junior Dogs the ball back in good position.
It wasn't long before Price took ahold of things one more time.
After Jaynes gave Hampton a quick first down, Price repeated his initial effort and blasted 22 yards across the middle to score. Jaynes put Hampton up 22-0.
Johnson County responded with big runs from Leonard, who picked up two first downs for the squad. However, Leonard fumbled it back to Hampton and the Bulldogs marched into the second half.
Johnson County opened the third quarter throwing, gaining a first down on a pass interference play.
Four straight incompletions put the ball back in Hampton's hands and Jaynes only needed one score to finish things off.
Jaynes blasted down the side of the field with a 50-yard touchdown run, making it 30-0 after the conversion.
Another stall from the Hampton defense set up runs from Irick. Irick used three runs before breaking a 43-yarder, hurdling his way to the end zone and a 38-0 lead.
Johnson County came together and rallied one final time behind runs from Leonard and some passes from Phipps. It set up Leonard with a one-yard touchdown plunge as time expired, with a conversion run of his own to close the game at 38-8.
"Coach Noble did a heck of a job and my coaching staff, there's four of them, they are the best," Oliver said. "These kids made some commitments. They didn't want to lose at home, they didn't want to lose a conference game and they didn't want to lose at all."
Jaynes finished with 87 yards on the ground, while Price finished with 62 for Hampton.
"I think that we went out there and played the best we could and came home with it like we said we would," said Jaynes, who picked up the MVP award after a stellar season. "Nobody's really given us any credit all year. We've earned it now. I think we had a good season. We got the plaque and that's all that matters."
Added Price: "It was real hard, but we had some good blocking and good lead blocking by Jarred Irick. It was tough. I'm just glad we won.
For Johnson County's Leonard, the loss was pretty tough.
"The game went pretty good (for me)," Leonard said. "Our defense played pretty good, but our offense didn't have much blocking. Those punts were the worse thing. If we didn't have them we might've had a little more fire."