Rangers race past Jellico for 51-33 win

Photo by Kristen Luther
Unaka running back Joey Parlier pulls away from Jellico's Thomas Collins.

By Marvin Birchfield

   It was senior night for Unaka on Friday, but it was the sophomore Charles Lee Guinn who stole the spotlight by rushing for 235 yards and scoring four touchdowns.
   In their final regular season game of the year, the Rangers cruised past conference rival Jellico 51-33 to secure a playoff spot next week.
   "We got a lot of young kids in and let them get a little closer than we wanted to there -- they scored 21 points on three touchdowns," said Unaka coach Mike Ensor. "They scored a lot of points, but it was all on our JV kids. They didn't score any on our varsity all night."
   The Rangers produced more than 400 yards of offense on the ground, as Guinn broke off three big runs -- one set a new school record -- while the combination of senior fullbacks blasted for a 150 yards total.
   "I had a perfect block from Joey Parlier, and I just followed him on my way to the end zone," said Guinn. "The whole team played perfect, the line blocked real well, and the coaches did a good job, along with our quarterback."
   Unaka (2-2, 6-4), which finished above .500 for the first time since 1991, scored on its opening possession, with three straight gives to Guinn resulting in a 68-yard breakaway touchdown.
   One senior looking to have a big game was fullback Joey Parlier, who had struggled most of the year with medical implications.
   Parlier stepped up on defense by picking off the pass of Stephen Barclay around the Blue Devils 45-yard line.
   "That interception tickled me to death -- that was the first one I ever had," said Parlier. "They've got a nickname for me called "Stone Hands" -- and that's why I'm at fullback."
   A return of 45 yards for the touchdown gave Unaka a 12-0 lead with 9:33 left in the first period.
   The Ranger defense dominated Jellico's front line during the first half, with Tory Morton busting through and throwing Thomas Collins for a four-yard loss.
   After a couple of nice runs from Parlier and first-down run by senior quarterback Brandon Irick, a give to Guinn from 11 yards out posted Unaka's third touchdown of the first period.
   "They had trouble stopping us with the run to the outside, and there wasn't much they could do with it," said Guinn.
   It was a rough go for the Blue Devils (0-4, 0-10), as their efforts of moving the ball were stuffed by Unaka continuosly.
   Jellico elected to attempt getting a first down on fourth and three at the beginning of the second period, but Joe Estep made the pop on Barclay, sacking him for a six-yard loss.
   After a 45-yard run by senior fullback Andrew Richardson almost went for a touchdown, the bruising back got the call down close, and punched in the score from three yards away.
   "It felt good to come out. I didn't know if I would be able to -- my groin muscle had been real tight," said Richardson. "The coach helped me wrap it and I was ready to go.
   "We finally ended on a winning season and now we have to get ready for the playoffs, so I'm ready for that."
   Parlier added his second touchdown of the night on a run up the middle, giving Unaka a 30-0 advantage with 3:37 left until half.
   "We all came out here and played hard, and for us seniors it was our last game out here on this field, so we knew we had to get it done," said Parlier. "It would have broke my heart if we wouldn't have played well, and this was the last time on Goddard Field, so we let it all hang out."
   Jellico managed to get on the board on the ensuing kickoff, as Sean Anderson ran back an 87-yard return.
   The Rangers responded with a 37-yard run from Guinn with just under a minute left in the half.
   It took Jellico just two play to score another touchdown before the half ended.
   A 72 yard run by Barclay would have scored, but Guinn managed to make the run down to save the touchdown at the three.
   Matt Hopson took it straight ahead to cut the deficit to 37-13, as the Rangers seem to be well on their way to a fifth win on the season.
   "We came out here and played our guts out, and now we have to get prepared for who we have to play on down the road," said senior lineman Jordan Ensor. "We have a lot of confidence that we can make it more than one round.
   "I think we can beat them, and we might even need to use a little trickery."
   Unaka executed off a turnover from the Blue Devils, when a snap from center flew past the quarterback, with Guinn recovering at Jellico's 32-yard line.
   Parlier got the give up the middle to score on an eight-yard run, which gave him a total of three for the game, one on defense and two from the backfield.
   Jellico managed to put together a drive before the end of the third period, and Nick Clevenshire ran a 17-yard sweep to score.
   "They scored more than they had all year, but we had to give our JV some experience and get ready for next season," said Jordan Ensor. "We've worked for this all year, and it's the first time since we've been to the playoffs in quite a while, so we'll see what we can do."
   The Blue Devils struck again after blocking a punt deep inside the Ranger territory.
   Two plays later, Jason Morgan scored on a four-yard touchdown run, closing the gap to 44-27.
   A long kickoff from Jellico pinned the Rangers down around their 2-yard line. From there, Guinn had trouble on the handle, losing it on two occasions before being nailed around the own goal-line.
   Facing a second-and-eight from the four, Guinn sprinted to a 96-yard touchdown run, breaking the longest play from scrimmage in Ranger history. The mark was previously held by Kim Richardson, who scored on a 95-yard run in 1972.
   "They kicked the ball to us on the two-yard line, and we're trying to punch it off and they're tired, then Charles Lee breaks it and goes 96 to set a new school record," said Ensor.
   Jellico added another touchdown as time expired with a 24-yard run coming from Jacob Walden.
   Unaka finishes as the number three seed of Region 1 1-A and will travel to Kingston next week, where they'll take on Midway (6-4).
   "Joey set the tempo early by picking off the pass and taking it in," said Ensor. "We fooled around and hit people tonight, and now all we have to do is go back and get ready for Midway.
   "We finished 5-4, which honestly I think we should have been 7-2, but I'd rather be 5-4 than 1-9 like we have the last couple of seasons."