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Blue Devil football team hosts Sullivan North for scrimmage

Kody Lewis takes a hand off from quarterback Brock Thompson during the Blue Devils’ scrimmage with Sullivan North on Friday, Aug. 9, at Gentry Stadium. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

The Unicoi County High School football team’s preparations for the upcoming season continued last week with a scrimmage against Sullivan North at Gentry Stadium in Erwin.

“I thought we did some good things, but also showed some places that we have to clean up,” Blue Devil head coach Drew Rice told The Erwin Record. “Overall, I think it was a good showing for us though. Sullivan North was a big physical football team and it was a good test for us.

UCHS will open the 2019 season on Friday, Aug. 23, at South Greene. As that kickoff draws ever closer, Rice said the competition against North gave the coaching staff an idea of what the team needs to focus on in the coming days.

“I think it showed us some places that need to improve over the next two weeks,” he added. “We did a lot of good things on defense, but we have to be better tacklers. We had five or six different plays bottled up in the backfield, and we let them break out of it for positive yards. Our run game has to get cleaned up, as well. We aren’t communicating up front as well as I would like for us to be. Those two things will be the focus over the next two weeks.”

As it was in the scrimmage at Northview Academy on Aug. 2, depth was a bright spot for the Blue Devils against North, according to the head coach.

“I think our depth has been really evident on both sides of the ball in both scrimmages now,” Rice said. “Our second offense scored two touchdowns in less than eight plays, so that is something that we have a lot of confidence in moving forward. Defensively, I think our young guys fly to the ball really well. They are still learning how to play in some places, but we definitely have a lot of talent.”

With the players returning to the classroom this week, Rice said the team will continue its preparations.

“This week we will really try and get in our weekly routine,” he added. “We will try to get our legs back under us a little since we have now been pushing really hard for over a month. With that in mind, we will still make conditioning a huge focus between now and the first game. We have to tackle better on defense, and be more efficient with our blocks up front.”

The Blue Devils will face another preseason test when they host Cosby for their final preseason scrimmage on Thursday, Aug. 15, at Gentry Stadium. Rice said the scrimmage is tentatively scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.

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After going on the road to face South Greene on Aug. 23, the Blue Devils will play their first home game on Aug. 30 against Hampton.

Season tickets are now on sale at the main office of the high school. Parking passes for Gentry Stadium are also on sale; however, a limited number of parking passes are available.