It was dress rehearsal night in Roan Mountain.
Cloudland, Hampton and Unaka were joined by Johnson County for the annual county Jamboree at a soggy Orr Field on Friday night.
The teams squared off in two-quarter contests as Cloudland took on the Longhorns, while the Bulldogs and the Rangers rounded out the evening.
Prior to the game action, the teams competed in skills competitions. Hampton’s Chase Taylor won the longest punt, while Unaka’s Aaron Carr was the fastest lineman. Johnson County saw Caden Arnold (fastest back), Jared Kimble (longest kick) and Nathan Arnold (longest pass) win individual competitions.
The ‘Landers took the opening drive and put together a strong series of plays on the legs of Jordan Coffey and Josh Blair. However, CHS was stopped on fourth down.
Johnson County answered quickly with a long pass and that set up a short touchdown run. That would be the difference in the first two quarters of action.
“We played hard,” Cloudland Head Coach Mike Lunsford said. “We were strong and we were physical. We played with intensity, but when there was a big play we made a mistake.”
“The effort is there,” Lunsford continued. “We are playing hard. We play with intensity. We just take our chances away with mental mistakes – we have to cut out the mental mistakes.”
In the second half, Hampton set the tone early as Hunter Davenport raced to the end zone in the game’s second offensive play for the score.
After the Rangers were unable to get anything going on the first possession, Davenport scored on the first play of the Hampton series.
Unaka saw the offense try to get going with the legs of Logan Benway and the arm of John Boy Ramsey. The Bulldogs, however, had too much fire power as Jason Russell, Ramsey Greenwell ran for scores, while Caleb Oaks caught an Alex Hardin pass for a touchdown.
“We have went against some tough competition in fall – we went against Grace Christian and Sullivan South, and I think that good competition puts you a little bit ahead of the game because you are able to identify the mistakes a lot easier,” Hampton Head Coach Michael Lunsford said. “I think that helped us.
The dress rehearsal of jamboree night was like pay day for the Hampton squad.
“These guys have been working their tails off and you get sick of going out there and beating each other to death,” Lunsford said. “This is a lot like payday because you put in the work and this is when it is worth it.”
For new Unaka Head Coach O’Brien Bennett, it was a chance to improve before next week’s opening game.
“We wanted to come out and compete with them and see where we stand with the real good teams in the area,” Bennett said. “I thought we came out here better. We have a lot of mistakes to fix and we have a long way to go, but our goal is to be one day better and I think we are there today.”
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