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Visitors win inaugural game

It was the start of a new tradition for local football fans.
Washington County used a late defensive rally to defeat Unicoi County, 26-22, in the inaugural Apple Festival Alumni Bowl hosted Saturday, Oct. 4, in front of a packed house at Gentry Stadium.
The game allowed former Unicoi County Blue Devils, David Crockett Pioneers and Daniel Boone Trailblazers take the field one more time, raising money for their respective programs.
“We don't have the official totals as of now,” Jarrod Hargrave, Alumni Football USA state director, said following the game. “But, roughly, including ticket sales and concessions, Unicoi County raised $2,500-3,000 and that is probably low balling it.”
Hargrave also said Washington County raised money for the Jr. Pioneer youth football program.
“It is all about restoration of the community and the football program,” Hargrave said. “And tying everything back together. We're very thankful for Unicoi's coach (Glenn White). I know he's been busy with the head coach job at the high school now and he coached the alumni guys tonight. He's been busy but he's been working on building the program up and he was a big help in this event.”
For coach White his hectic schedule wouldn't change a promise made months ago.
“The alumni guys approached me before I had even thought I'd be the high school head coach,” White said. “But, I didn't want to let them down so we practiced.
“I was a fun experience. We had a chance there to win it late. Washington County has already played five games together and this was the first time these guys ever played together. They still had the heart and passion for the game and our current players at the high school saw that from the sideline in the first half.”
Unicoi County had over 30 players participate in the inaugural game. Austin Hensley, a 2012 UCHS graduate and current record holder for passing yards at UCHS, took some snaps behind center along with former players Andy Bennett and Shawn Phillips.
Cameron Miller, a former standout on the hardwood and on the track field, showed he had some moves, scoring the first points of the game on a 39-yard touchdown run and added a punt return for a score. Miller, who also added the team’s final score in the second half from 14 yards out on a Hensley pass, was named the offensive and special teams player of the game for Unicoi County.
Brendon King, a native of Flag Pond, also reeled in catches of 43 and 21 yards for the Blue Devils in the game. Zack Beard reeled in a catch of 13 yards and added four tackles.
Daniel Bishop was named defensive player of the game for the Blue Devils. Ike Bishop saw some time in the backfield. Daniel Bishop and former ETSU and UCHS player David Bell also tacked on two-point conversions on the night.
Wesley Clark, Tim Hensley, Robert Patton, Anthony Harris and Rusty Edwards also added some key defensive plays in the game.
The game also featured a bit of a family twist.
Dave Wilson, a member of Washington County's team, helped spearhead the event and was lined up against his cousin Stephen Wilson.
“I always wanted to be on the field with him,” Dave said. “I'm from Erwin and I remember coming up here, watching Steve play and running up and down the field with him. I idolized him. It was a great experience.”
The challenge is now set for next year, Hargrave said. With the help of the Apple Festival workers and city officials, the Apple Festival Bowl is looking to be an annual event with Happy Valley aimed to be the opponent next season.
“It was a fun time,” coach White said. “It would be great to keep this event going. It was a great way to give the players another chance to play and it also helps our school. We'll be looking into ways to raise money for other programs, if we can, next year.
Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley was part of the coin toss to open the ceremonies.
The roster of players from Unicoi County consisted of: Austin Hensley, Tim Hensley, Zack Beard, David Bell, Shawn Phillips, Charlie Barnes, Robert Patton, Ike Bishop, Daniel Bishop, William Bund, Wesley Clark, Russell Edwards, Jonathan Farnor, Brody Grindstaff, Erik Harris, Anthony Harris, Brendon King, Cameron Miller, Kenneth Shults, Justin Ramsey, Chase Honeycutt, Curtis Edwards, Jerod Bailey, Danny Bradley, Thomas Presnell, Houston Tittle, Jonathan Ponce, Aaron Peterson, Andy Bennett, Brian Wilson, Chris Turner, Stephen Thomas, Stephen Wilson, Brian Whitson and Austin Neff.