By Richard Rourk
It’s once again football time in Erwin and the Unicoi County High School Blue Devils are coming off a huge season-opener win on the road against Northview Academy in Kodak.
“That win Friday night (Aug. 20) really sets the tone going forward,” said John Keasling, president of the Blue Devil Gridiron Club. “I knew that if they played the way they were supposed to they would win.”
While success on the field comes from the hard work of the young men that don the blue and white helmets, Keasling’s group works towards success behind the scenes.
The Blue Devil Gridiron Club has been working hard for decades to ensure that the UCHS football program has all it needs to achieve success on the field.
“This organization has been around for as long as I can remember,” Keasling said.
Blue Devil Gridiron Club member John Swinehart explains that the club does all it can to promote awareness of the football program and raise funds to support the team.
“We have several fundraising opportunities, but our big one is the program that is sold at the stadium on Friday nights,” Swinehart said. “We also raise funds by parking cars during the Apple Festival, and we work with coach (Drew) Rice on finding out what the team needs.”
Keasling, whose son is a former Blue Devil standout and who still has a great-nephew playing on the team, has been president of the Blue Devil Gridiron Club since 2016.
He said he still loves seeing the joy from the team when they leave the field in victory.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Keasling said.
The Blue Devil Gridiron Club relies on the support of the community to raise the funds to bring supplies and meals to the football program.
“We have some great sponsors,” Keasling said. “We are actually hanging up the banners at Gentry Stadium. We will also be hanging up individual player banners at the field.”
Keasling stated that the club is always looking for new partners and sponsors to support the Blue Devil football program. “We still have some individual signs that will be displayed at Gentry up for our community members to sponsor,” Keasling said. “We can always add to the programs as well. The programs are a great way to support the team as it gives people the opportunity to put a face with the player on Friday nights.”
Anyone interested in supporting the Blue Devil Gridiron Club can contact coach Rice at UCHS or send a message to the Blue Devil Gridiron Club on Facebook at UCHS Gridiron Club or email the organization at [email protected]