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Church Hill, Greeneville defeat Jr. Blue Devils

The Jr. Blue Devils were able to give a scare to the surging Church Hill team.
The Unicoi County Middle School football team made the trip to Rogersville to square off against Church Hill Middle School on Tuesday, Sept. 16.
After the dust settled, the Jr. Blue Devils fell, 20-12.
“Church Hill is a well-coached team,” UCMS head coach Jason Hensley said. “Their running back (Noah Russell) was a big kid and we had a little trouble wrapping up. But, I was proud of our guys and the fight they gave.”
Hensley has seen a bevy of players grow up this season, he said – including quarterback Brett Strother, who accounted for more than 250 yards of offense and threw for a score and ran one in against Church Hill.
“Strother had a good day,” Hensley said. “He really threw the ball well and he’s growing into a good quarterback for us. And he had a pick for us on the defensive side of the ball and returned it 60 yards.”
An already young receiving corp had bright spots, Hensley said – including Austin O’Dell, who accounted for 127 yards, and Tanner VanHoy, who hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass.
“Austin had a big day for us,” Hensley said, “and Tanner came up with the touchdown grab. Another seventh-grader, Kody Lewis, really filled in well for us and will be seeing the field a lot more.
“Our offensive line really improved with the blocking up front. They’re getting better and we’ve got a lot of guys really developing into good football players.”
Ike Edwards and Shane Armstrong also provided moments on the defensive line, the head coach said, with the shift to a base 4-3 defense.
“Nick Farnor gave us some solid play on the line,” Hensley added. “Diego Diaz, Brett (Strother), Austin (O’Dell), Kody (Lewis) and Tanner (VanHoy) also backed us up well in the secondary.”
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The Jr. Blue Devils were back at home on Tuesday, Sept. 23, with a contest against Greeneville Middle School that resulted in a loss. The Green Devils were undefeated inside the league, with T.A. Dugger, prior to The Erwin Record press deadline.
“Their head coach, Todd Newberry, does a great job with the program,” Hensley said. “We talk about once a week. It’s good for our team to get a chance to see a team they may see at the high school level if they fall into our classification next year.”
Strother cut loose for a 60-plus yard score for the Blue Devil offense against Greeneville. Easton Edwards and Lewis each gave solid performances on the defensive side of the ball, according to Hensley. Lewis also added a 20-plus yard catch to open up the Jr. Blue Devil first possession of the game.
While the wins have eluded the youthful squad at the middle school in their rebuilding phase, progress has been made since the beginning of the year, Hensley said.
“I love my little team,” he added. “They practice hard and have put in the work to become better football players.”
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UCMS ended the regular season after The Erwin Record’s press deadline against Vance Middle School on the road.