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Slagle: Team showing improvement

The outcome wasn’t what the Erwin Knights wanted, but improvement was evident, according to coach Andy Slagle.
The East Tennessee Pirates adult league football team was able to capitalize off miscues and rode that momentum to a 38-14 win over the Knights on Saturday, April 18, at Gentry Stadium.
An undermanned Knights team faced the Pirates due to some team members having to miss the game for work obligations in Bristol.
“We ended up playing with 22 to 23 guys and three of our guys got hurt,” Slagle said. “So depth came back to hurt us tonight, not having enough bodies. But you can see the improvements from Saturday’s game compared to our first official game. It was like night and day and I think that first game was a bit of an eye-opener for us. I was proud of the way the guys battled and the way we stayed in it.”
Former Elizabethton quarterback Ryan Thomas anchored the Knights in his debut. Thomas accounted for the Knights’ scoring with a pair of touchdowns and a two-point conversion run. Thomas also often connected with former Unicoi County wideout Coty VanHoy for a chunk of yardage on the outside.
“Ryan’s a game changer for us,” Slagle said. “D.W. (Whitson) was banged up for us and did a great job helping Ryan learn the playbook to be in a good position for his first game at quarterback for us.”
Along with the Unicoi County tie-ins, the Knights were able to pick up a crop of Carter County natives including former Hampton standouts, B.J. Taylor, Lucas Teague and Caleb West. Also included was former Elizabethton lineman Aaron Somers.
Thomas Doughty was able to show his stuff on defense, playing through broken ribs and ended up on the brunt of plays. Derek Fisher also showed his stuff on the defense at the end with Trevor Berry and Jonathan Davis.
The Knights are scheduled to be back in action on Saturday, April 25, at Gentry Stadium with a 4 p.m. kickoff with the Southwest Legends.
“I think highly of coach Bill Cooper and his team,” Slagle said of the Southwest Legends. “We saw them in a scrimmage earlier this year so we should know what to expect.”
Community support is also a big factor for the team, the coach said.
“We just want to build a good program for the community to enjoy in the spring,” Slagle added.