By Keeli Parkey

For the second consecutive year, the Unicoi County Middle School football season was a successful one.

“We have had back-to-back six win seasons for the first time in school history, so the high school is getting some good football players coming up to go with the talented players they already have,” UCMS head coach Larry Howell said.

The Jr. Blue Devils posted an overall record of 6-2. They defeated Sullivan East, Holston, Mosheim, Sullivan North, Blountville and Church Hill. Their two losses came at the hands of Rogersville and Colonial Heights.

“We had a solid group of eighth graders,” Howell said. “It would be hard to single out anyone without leaving out some of the players that had impacts on the team. Our offensive and defensive lines played well throughout the year and the backs and receivers played great.”

Aiding the Jr. Blue Devils’ success were several returning players.

“We had five players that played all three years and several that have played two years,” Howell said. “That was the key to our success. Having them be familiar with our system is always good. The players practiced hard and it showed up in the games. We also had a great group of seventh and sixth graders that we will look forward to coaching up next year.”

As a feeder program for the Unicoi County High School football team, the middle school works with the UCHS staff.

“I spend some time with the varsity to get a feel for what they do and try to incorporate some of it into our program. The high school coaches have been great to us and help whenever and with whatever we need,” Howell said. “I would like to thank (UCHS head) coach (Drew) Rice and all of his staff for their help and for letting me spend time with them. They have always made us feel welcome and a part of Blue Devil Football Nation.”

A supportive coaching staff also aided in the Jr. Blue Devils’ success in 2019.

“I want to thank Ben Peterson, Jon Copper and Cane Cannon for coaching with me,” Howell said. “I really thought we worked well together and had a great time. I would also like to thank the parents of these young men we coached. They were always supportive and positive in every way.”