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Off the Field – Thanks to all (Dec. 2, 2015 issue)

Being thankful was the name of the game last week.
It was a festive time across the area with holiday hoops controlling the headlines for the Unicoi County High School basketball teams. The Blue Devils competed in the 26th annual Hardee’s Classic, while the Lady Blue Devils were in Bluff City participating in the Triten Insurance Girls Thanksgiving Basketball Classic.
While the hardwood stayed active, this time of the year always reminds me of 2010. The Hardee’s Classic was the first event I had the opportunity to cover for The Erwin Record when I was 19 years old and it is crazy to reminisce about how opportunities can begin.
I’m currently in the fifth year of my journalism career and thinking of the different experiences during that time has me in a thankful mood. With a platform to reach thousands, I just wanted the chance to say thanks to all the family members, coaches and student-athletes for the moments over the years and it should be interesting to see what 2016 holds for the Blue Nation.
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The growing pains were felt during the tournament play for the guys and girls at UCHS. The guys dropped their final two games at the Hardee’s while the ladies dropped four straight in the Triten Insurance Classic.
No need to sound the alarm.
On the girls’ side, head coach Kerri King and company went through the gauntlet with games against Tennessee High, Daniel Boone and Morristown East (all Class AAA schools) along with a battle against traditionally-solid Hampton.
For the Blue Devils, their losses came against a loaded David Crockett program that went on to win the Hardee’s Classic and a Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK) team that UCHS could have the opportunity to see again in postseason play.
Both teams are adding new players to the mix and going through the ringer early on; but their talent on the court will only help each team make progress throughout the season.
Expect a crowded night at the Devils’ Den on Friday, Dec. 4, with UCHS opening Three Rivers Conference play against Sullivan South.
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The largest college football game ever, set for 2016, recently received its title sponsor.
In a press release issued to The Erwin Record, Pilot Flying J became the title sponsor for the Battle at Bristol, the neutral-site for next year’s contest between the University of Tennessee Volunteers and Virginia Tech Hokies on Sept. 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS).
According to the release, Battle at Bristol aims to smash the college football attendance record of 115,109 with a projected attendance of 150,000 at BMS. The title sponsorship for Pilot Flying J is the largest sports marketing sponsorship for a single-day event in the company history.
Pilot Flying J is the largest operator of travel centers and plazas in North America and headquartered in Knoxville.
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A special congratulations goes out to the Hampton Bulldog football team, the region’s final team to conclude their season last week in the TSSAA Class 2A state semifinals.
The Bulldogs fell in a 55-17 decision to Marion County, who is making their second-straight appearance to the state championship in Cookeville.
Early injuries plagued the ‘Dogs with quarterback Coby Jones going down with a reported sprained MCL. A host of turnovers also broke open the contest to go in favor of the Warriors.
Hampton’s conclusion to the season officially closes the 2015 chapter of football in the area. The team, along with each high school from the area, deserves a round of applause for giving fans another exciting year of gridiron action in Northeast Tennessee.
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Visit erwinrecordpix.com for photos over the years of Blue Nation sports. Photos on The Erwin Record digital photostore are available for purchase by either print or download.
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For updates on Unicoi County athletics, check out The Erwin Record sports department on different social media sites. Information can be viewed and shared on The Erwin Record Sports Facebook page or on Twitter at: @CurtisCarden_ER.