By Keeli Parkey

The 2018 Unicoi County High School football team had the program’s most successful season in recent memory.

Under the direction of head coach Drew Rice, the Blue Devils finished with a 9-3 overall record, finished second in Region 1-AAA with a 4-1 league record and won a playoff game. The team was eliminated from the playoffs by a loss at Alcoa earlier this month.

While the disappointment of the loss to Alcoa was certainly felt by the UCHS players and coaches, that doesn’t diminish the quality of the 2018 season by the team.

In addition to having the first winning season for the program since 1996, the Blue Devils won nine games for the first time since 1985, hosted the first playoff game at Gentry Stadium since 1991, earned the program’s first playoff victory since 1985 and made it to the Sweet 16 for TSSAA.

“Overall, I think it was a great year for us,” Rice previously told The Erwin Record. “We obviously would have liked for a few things to turn out differently, but we were certainly blessed to have the year we had. It says a lot about our guys and their commitment to each other.”

With the season over, several Blue Devils have been recognized for their performances on the field, including junior Kody Lewis who has been named at the Region 1-AAA Offensive Player of the Year. Lewis finished the season with 24 touchdowns and 2,025 total yards, setting school records for both rushing yards and touchdowns in one season. He averaged just over 10 yards per carry.

“Kody breaking the single-season rushing record for both yards and touchdowns in a single season, is huge for him and our program moving forward,” Rice previously said.

Senior kicker Martin Porras was named as the region’s Specialist of the Year. Porras converted 44-52 extra point attempts this season.

Sophomore quarterback Brock Thompson was named as the Underclassmen of the Year for Region 1-AAA. Thompson completed 70 passes for 1,213 yards and threw for 15 touchdowns.

Named to the Region 1-AAA First Team were Blue Devils: Ike Edwards, Roby Lemmon, Danny Lowery, Austin O’Dell, Brett Strother, Tanner VanHoy, Noah White and Drew Williams.

Named to the Region 1-AAA Second Team were Blue Devils: Nick Farnor, Michael Harrington, LJ Mitchell, Justin Pike and Jacob Schreck.

Zeb Tipton was named to the all-academic team.

Johnson County’s Nathan Lane was named the league’s Player of the Year.