Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Middle school teams defeat Cyclones

The Unicoi County Middle School football program continued its winning ways during last week’s Middle Eight Conference showdown with T.A. Dugger on Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Gentry Stadium.
Behind the rushing attack of a three-headed monster in the backfield – Nick Fender, Cameron Higgins and Dylan Burgess – the Devils moved their record to 3-1 overall with a 44-0 blowout victory over the junior Cyclones from Elizabethton.
“It was a good day for UCMS football,” head coach Larry Howell said. “Our kids have learned what it means to play hard and that concept has gotten reinforced with two huge wins in a row.”
During the Devils’ opening drive, all three running backs carried the ball. The drive was capped off by Michael Howell’s quarterback keeper for a touchdown.
“Michael (Howell) ran the offense great and kept them guessing with timely keepers for positive yardage,” Howell said. “We dominated so much in the running game, there was little use for passing as Burgess, Fender and Higgins had their way throughout the game with huge runs.”
The offense was in full force during the game, but the defense set the tone, according to Howell.
“Our defense went on to set the tone,” he explained. “They stuffed them for little yardage throughout the first half.”
Howell credited the play of his defensive line and linebackers during the contest.
The secondary play of Tyler Whitson, Kendrick Williams and Ethan Smith also caught the eyes of the coaching staff, according to Howell.
Whitson also came through with a key punt return that set the Devils up on the Jr. Cyclones three-yard line and led to another score.
Higgins also chipped in on the defensive side of the ball early in the first quarter, recording his second pick-six on defense from his linebacker spot.
Fender and Higgins tacked in a pair of rushing touchdowns. Burgess chipped in four two-point conversions during the game.
The younger players on the team had a chance to make an early entrance into the contest, and Hunter Higgins took full advantage by taking his rush attempt to the end zone in the fourth quarter to cap off Big Blue’s scoring.
“Several younger kids also got some varsity experience with (Hunter) Higgins scoring our final touchdown on a brilliant run,” Howell also said.
The junior varsity program at UCMS scored a 22-6 win over T.A. Dugger following the varsity action.
“The junior varsity team dominated play up front which is the key to any victory on any level,” said Howell. “[They] have improved vastly in the last couple of weeks with their play on the offensive line.”
John Sullins, Higgins and Clay Simpson each saw time in the backfield while Owen Nicholson handled the snaps from under center.
“Owen played a great game at quarterback,” said Howell. “He had several huge gainers on option plays.”
With two straight key wins under their belts, Howell is hoping to see continued improvement from his team going forward throughout the rest of the schedule.
“I was proud of how hard they play and I hope they keep it up,” he said. “We have to keep getting better because a trip to Kingsport to play Sevier and then a trip to undefeated Church Hill is coming up.”
The Devils will kick off against Sevier on Tuesday, Sept. 11, in Kingsport. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.; the junior varsity team is scheduled to hit the field at 7:30 p.m.