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Off the Field – A trip down memory lane (Dec. 30, 2015 issue)

With the new year upon us, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
The teams of Unicoi County High School provided memorable moments throughout 2015, bringing fans to the edge of their seats. What moments stood out?
With the help of some readers, The Erwin Record is proud to present the top moments of 2015.
Todd qualifies again for cross country state meet: After a dominant freshman campaign around the region in 2014, sophomore Megan Todd made this past season count by earning conference and regional first place honors. The accolades allowed the runner to qualify for the state meet for a second straight year. During her second appearance at the meet, Todd earned a top-20 finish and all-state honors.
Blue Devil football returns to playoffs: The football fields were unkind to UCHS football in 2014, but things were quick to change in 2015. With a full year under the direction of head coach Glenn White, the Blue Devils were able to secure a 5-5 record in the Mountain Eight Conference and earned a first-round playoff bid against Alcoa.
Clawson punches state swim meet ticket: Blue Devil Kaleb Clawson has made his senior year count in the pools across the region. The lone member of the UCHS swim team, who is also a member of the Johnson City Barracudas, recently clinched a berth to the upcoming state meet in 2016. Along with representing the Barracudas in the state meet in February, Clawson will represent the Blue Devils at the regional meet in January.
Gillis continues tradition at Baxter Field: It was the beginning of a new era with Chad Gillis taking over the head coaching role for the UCHS Blue Devil baseball team in 2015. Replacing a hall of fame coach in Charlie Baxter could have been something that dampened expectations, along with losing Brandon Garland, one of the top baseball prospects early in the year, to injury. Gillis and the crew rallied the wagons and earned a district championship and came within just one game of qualifying for the state tournament.
Lady Devils earn thrilling East Tennessee Classic title: Current ETSU freshmen softball players, Taylor Wright and Tiffany Laughren, took part in some intense tournament action back in March at Winged Deer Park in Johnson City. UCHS earned a tightly-contested 6-5 win against Boiling Springs, S.C., in the championship of the East Tennessee Classic. UCHS jumped ahead with a 6-2 lead with four RBIs from Wright and a two-run home run from Cierra Jackson. Laughren earned the win in the circle for the Lady Devils.
Blue Devil basketball earns second straight win over Science HIll: 1988 was the last time UCHS had defeated the Science Hill boys’ basketball team. The Blue Devils rallied from that in 2014 with a win in the Topper Palace and were able to earn another victory in Johnson City in 2015. Sophomore Trevor Hensley, who opened up the season on a high-note, including an all-tournament nod on the Hardee’s Classic tournament in November, led the Blue Devils with 20 points. Dylan Putman and Jacob Smith went in double figures.
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Remember the good old days when the Devils’ Den struck fear in the hearts of opponents?
The success of a large student section has been so hit-and-miss due to the apparent lack of interest. Why spend time with friends at a basketball game when there’s XBox, TV, and other things? UCHS never seems to lack the amount of able-body classmates sitting in the student section, but any individual could drop a cricket over in the area that would make much more noise than what’s been heard so far this season.
Blue Devil and Lady Devil teams return home on Jan. 8 with conference games against Sullivan North. Where are you going to be, Blue Nation? There are varsity and underclassmen teams to be proud of.
Get loud and have fun during the games, the sixth man always makes the experience much better during basketball season.
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The 2015 Northeast Tennessee Basketball Yearbook, NET Hoops, is available for purchase at local sports’ retailers in Johnson City. The magazine, priced at $10, provides basketball previews for college and basketball teams from the area.
For more information on the magazine, which is also available for purchase by mail or by searching Ebay, visit the Northeast Tennessee Basketball Yearbook Facebook page.
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UCHS basketball teams will wrap up 2015 by competing in basketball tournaments in Knoxville and Gray.
The Blue Devils’ stint in the Bearden Super 16 and the Lady Devils in the Johnson City Honda Classic will be updated throughout the week online and a full recap will appear in the Jan. 6 issue of the paper.
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For daily updates by the award-winning sports coverage of The Erwin Record, visit different social media sites online. Readers are encouraged to visit The Erwin Record Sports Facebook page and follow along on Twitter at: @CurtisCarden_ER.
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Visit erwinrecordpix.com for galleries of Blue Devil and Lady Devil athletics. Photos are available for purchase by print or download.