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Jr. Blue Devils have talent

The 2019-20 Unicoi County Middle School Jr. Blue Devil varsity basketball team includes, pictured from left, back row, Christopher Chavez, Gavin Tipton, Caleb Peterson, Keilet Rodriguez, Ty Engle and Luke Berry; front row, Mason Hensley, Hayden Johnson, Garrett Sellars, Gage Casey, Kolby Jones and Jackson Simmons. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

From Staff Reports

Unicoi County Middle School boys’ basketball coach Jordan Simmons is upbeat about the Jr. Blue Devils’ prospects for 2019-20. A combination of talented players and intensive training in team communication promises to lead the Jr. Blue Devils to a memorable season.

Simmons, who does double duty as the school’s principal, has the challenge of bringing nine new players on board this year, for a total of 26 players in all. But what these newcomers lack in experience they more than make up for in terms of raw talent and energy.

“Two of my sixth graders are especially strong players,” he said. “But, for them to succeed, they must adapt to the constantly changing demands of inter-school play.”

This points out the need for effective player-to-player communication, a fact that Simmons emphasized in his recent interview with The Erwin Record.

“Communication between players is a big part of my training philosophy,” he said. “One example is game terminology. Players must all use the same vocabulary. Otherwise, they might miss crucial instructions and surrender control of the ball.”

Simmons is working with his counterparts at Unicoi County High School, including head coach John Good, to develop a comprehensive training program for his players. Together they are working hard to give UCMS players a solid grounding in essential skills like shooting and dribbling.

This is Simmons’ first year as the head UCMS basketball coach. He brings with him a total of 14 years of coaching experience, along with his skills as a classroom instructor and school administrator.

The 2019-20 UCMS Jr. Blue Devil basketball program includes Gage Casey, Garrett Sellars, Kolby Jones, Hayden Johnson, Mason Hensley, Christopher Chavez, Ty Engle, Jackson Simmons, Keilet Rodriguez, Gavin Tipton, Luke Berry, Caleb Peterson, Cole English, Cade Peterson, Brock Peterson, Dakota Schwenke, Gabe King, Kolby Jones, Jorge Raygoza, Jace Garland, Isaac Harris, Karson Buchanan, Zeke Campbell, Rhett Allen, Blaize Holt and Brady Simmons.

So far during the 2019-20 season the Jr. Blue Devil varsity squad has posted a record of 5-3. The junior varsity squad is 5-1.

UCMS is scheduled to travel to Hampton on Monday, Dec. 2 and host Happy Valley on Thursday, Dec. 5.