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White: Blue Devils continue to make progress

Progress continued for the Unicoi County High School football team last week, according to head coach Glenn White, as the team concluded its 7-on-7 schedule with stops at Sullivan North and North Greene.
“Our guys are tired,” White said on Friday, July 17. “They’ve put in a lot the past two weeks during these camps. We gave the guys off today and the weekend and we’ll be back at work next week. We go to full pads on July 27 before we have our first scrimmage in Erwin against Sullivan Central.”
As the Blue Devils prepare for the July 31 exhibition with Central, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., White said he liked what he saw out of last week’s competitions.
“We went over to Sullivan North on Tuesday and playted against North, Daniel Boone and Trinity Christian,” White added. “I liked what I saw out of the guys there. I liked the fire I saw out of the guys against North and we threw the ball well against Trinity.
“Daniel Boone was a good showing for us, too. We had success against them and they’re typically a power in the Big Seven.”
Senior signal caller Hunter Hensley has been showcasing his arm strength, White said.
“He can throw 60 yards flat-footed.” he added. “He’s got great arm strength and most of the time he’s right on the money. I know there were a couple of times I got tough on him, but he’s our guy.”
Leading the charge from the receiver position was Eli Gillis, who is at full health this season. The Blue Devils have also banked on the receiving abilities of Michael Howell, Brandon Caldwell, Owen Nicholson and Dayton Clark.
Dylon Burgess, Nick Fender and Jordan Metcalf were able to get reps from the backfield, according to White. Fender also showed his wheels on a few deep passes.
White said the offensive cogs are in place and coaches Willie Douglass and Jordan Cooper have been putting together some schemes for the defense.
“Our defense is looking very up to par,” he added. “Coach Douglass and Coach Cooper have been working with our guys, Coach Douglass has been around a time or two coaching and you can just sit back and watch what he’s able to do.”
Different defensive members of the Big Blue Curtain made plays last week, including the likes of Caldwell, Leon Dover, Derek Berry and Tyler Whitson, White said.
With the positives, the Blue Devils did have a couple of items go against them, particularly notable were injuries to linemen Justin Nelson and Kyle Edwards.
“Justin suffered an ankle injury,” White said. “He’s going to be out for a couple of months, so we’re hoping to have him back after the dead period during the season. Kyle won’t be with us for the entire season due to his shoulder. He came to me and said his shoulder was too weak. After the injury last year it didn’t heal up the way it should and I respect the fact he made an adult decision like that; he’s still part of the family.”
Thursday’s trip to North Greene also had the Blue Devil linemen working hard and White shared praise for his athletes in the trenches: “Dawson (Hensley) improved so much in technique this season. If he can carry that over to the pads, he’ll definitely be in the mix. Will Collins is our center and we’ve moved guys like Logan Lance and Jacob Smith to the line to help with depth. Those guys, with other kids like Justin Laughren, John Burnett, Trent Treadway … I’m proud of the way they have responded this year.
“It is always tough to lose a couple of guys who are 275-plus pounds, but we have a bunch of spitfires on the line. There’s going to be some reshuffling on my end since I work with the linemen, too. We’re working on them staying low and shoulder-blocking.”