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Off the Field – Destiny is still being written (Oct. 7, 2015 issue)

Playoffs?
Just hearing that word brings back memories of Jim Mora’s famous tangent during his stint with Indianapolis Colts, but it is a word that could circulate around the Unicoi County High School Blue Devil football team in November.
The Blue Devils were able to earn a much-needed statement win on Friday, Oct. 2, against Chuckey-Doak, with a relatively sound 44-33 decision during the Black Knights’ homecoming night.
History was on the side of UCHS leading up to Friday. Since 2001, the Blue Devils were winners of five of the past six meetings against Chuckey-Doak.
Chuckey-Doak was the hot team heading in with homecoming excitement, while the Blue Devils were regrouping from a 35-0 decision against Elizabethton. Due to injuries, head coach Glenn White and company also went to battle without junior wideout Shaddon Peavyhouse and senior defensive back Tyler Whitson.
The pieces were there for either feast or famine … and the Blue Devils ate.
UCHS tailback Nick Fender went for more than 100 yards, Cameron Higgins hit the 10 touchdown mark and the adjustments were made to prevent any meltdowns in the second half.
Friday’s victory was a swing of the pendulum in the right direction. According to coach White after the contest, the team was able to continue their goal of controlling their own destiny.
The Blue Devils are hoping that destiny leads to a playoff berth for the first time since 2013.
After posting 44 points against the Black Knights, the Blue Devils’ lucky number for a postseason ticket is two; two wins and they qualify for the playoffs.
Also, a winning record, which is an accomplishment that has evaded the program since 1996, is just three wins away from becoming a reality.
UCHS hits a final four-game stretch with all Mountain Eight Conference opponents with Pigeon Forge waiting in the wings this week. After absorbing a 35-18 loss to Elizabethton Friday, the Tigers (4-2, 2-1) make the bus drive to the northeast part of Tennessee for the second week in a row. Chuckey-Doak can also help the Blue Devils this week with a win on the road at Northview Academy – a team with just one loss in the league thus far.
The destiny for the Blue Devils is still being written as the season continues in the second half. UCHS has proved they can line up, talent-for-talent, and put themselves in a position to win and were just a few plays away from being 5-1 this season.
At this point of the season, the Blue Devils showed they don’t need fiery wordplay, they don’t need gimmicks – the team has reached the nitty-gritty of the prep football season.
The recipe for success is simple: throw out the 3-0 on the road and 0-3 at home records, put aside the social media posts, the newspaper and message board jargon and throw on the pads and take it one game at a time on the gridiron.
Anything can happen.
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Rough waters in the volleyball sea for the UCHS ship are starting to subside for captain Frank Forsythe.
The volleyball Three Rivers Conference doesn’t give any favors for teams not in Sullivan County. The simple truth is the hardwood sport has been practically ingrained into the DNA of the ladies from Kingsport and Bluff City. Losses to Sullivan North, Sullivan South and Sullivan East are to be expected from a program rebuilding.
But over the past two years, the gaps are slowly starting to close up. UCHS swept their stint against Johnson County and were able to push Sullivan North and Sullivan East this season. The future is looking bright. For example, the junior varsity team took second in the District 1-A/AA tournament last week, including wins over North and East before falling to South in the title contest.
The changing of a mentality is starting to form. The Devils’ Den in the fall is no longer used just for a time-filler sport for student-athletes as they wait for basketball or softball.
Seniors Ashlie Padgett and Laura Rogers helped lead a varsity heavily populated with underclassmen to game experiences. While it didn’t accumulate in wins, the lessons will prove vital as the younger kids continue to progress. The feeder program at Unicoi County Middle School, led by coaches Sara Hubbard and Holly Peterson, continues to bring a steady flow of volleyball players to the high school.
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Photos of Blue Devil and Lady Blue Devil athletics are available at erwinrecordpix.com for purchase by either print or download.
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Readers are encouraged to follow The Erwin Record Sports online on Facebook for up to date information on Unicoi County athletics. Updates can also be found on Twitter at: @CurtisCarden_ER.