Mighty Vikes on JC docket
If the Johnson County Longhorns are looking for positive things about tonight's battle against Tennessee High, at least it's at home.
The 'Horns' final home game of the season features the unbeaten Vikings (8-0, 5-0 MLC), who are listed as one of the top teams in Upper Eastern Tennessee this season.
Johnson County (5-3, 2-3) must bounce back from a 21-6 loss at the hands of Elizabethton, needing a victory to remain in the playoff chase.
That will be no easy task, however, as Tennessee High has given up seven points or less in four big conference games this season.
Cherokee (14 points), Science Hill (14) and Virginia High (12) are the only teams to reach the double-digit mark against the squad this season. Cherokee and Science Hill, which scored 14 against the unit, and Virginia High, which escaped with 12.
The squad has the highest-scoring offense and lowest scoring defense in the area, scoring 47.1 points a game, while giving up just seven per game defensively.
Tennessee High has shut out Johnson County the last three times, including a 35-0 spanking last season.
"It's going to be a tough one," said Johnson County coach Mike Atwood, whose team has undergone many changes due to some injuries.
It will be tough offensively for the 'Horns as tailback T.R. Smith is out for the year with a torn ACL, just shy of the 1,000-yard mark with 962 yards on the season.
"He was 30 some yards away," said the coach. "We started to brace him up, but he's going to be good next year."
Smith has over half of the team's rushing yards this season, with Jeff Brinker's 267 and Jesse Atwood's 214 far behind in comparison.
Brinker and Atwood will be out this week, leaving Nathan Paisley as the team's starting tailback and Thomas Moore at the fullback position for the squad.
"We had to move some people around," Atwood said. "We're down to our fourth-string tailback (Paisley) and both of our defensive ends are out."
Bobby Mounts and Kyle Walters will step up defensively at the end position for Johnson County this week.
Tennessee High is tough offensively with two of the top ten rushers in the Mountain Lakes with Brandon Anderson (96 carries for 777 yards and 11 scores) and Major Canty (73 carries for 500 yards and eight scores).
The Vikings don't go to the air much, but have a solid threat with Marcus Nidifer who has 547 yards on 40-of-70 passing with seven scores.
As far as special teams play goes, Tennessee High leads the league in punt returns and kickoff returns. Shaud Johnson has three punt returns for scores, while Anderson has another two.
Nick Howington has a 42.3 yard average on kickoff returns with a 87-yard touchdown return earlier in the season.
As for the team's bread and butter, look no further than its defense.
The Vikings have only allowed an average of 148.88 yards-per-game this season, allowing just 85 yards on the ground per game.
The team also has 12 interceptions while forcing 13 fumbles on the ground.
"We're just looking to play a good game," Atwood said. "We want to try to give them the best game we can. It's been a tough two-game stretch for us with Elizabethton and now Tennessee High.
"We'd like to be able to play both teams healthy, but that's not the way it goes."