In The Bleachers

December 8, 2014 by

We’re back!

(Well really, I’m back – but…)

Due to interest apparently being there, In Overtime is  officially getting rebooted for the upcoming weeks and I thought it would be a good transition to go with “In The Bleachers” – a bit of a mini-series of news, with my personal spin on it, and always a way to interact with The Erwin Record readers, or any other publication.

Just to get back on the online groove – we’ll wet the whistles with a quick look at what’s gone on so far in the Three Rivers Conference.

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Round Fire – A bit of my personal FYI so far into the season.

Three Rivers Conference:

Boys side - Can’t say it is the biggest surprise on the boys side, but Unicoi County has came out of the gate with a brand-spanking new lineup and boasts a 7-4 record on the year with quality wins over Class AAA’s Volunteer, Cocke County & Science Hill, along with a win over last year’s conference champs, Sullivan South. Losses from North Buncombe, David Crockett, Morristown East and Sullivan East are the only spots in the loss column. It’s still early in the year – but head coach John English, along with Michael Smith, Ben Evely and Drew Rice deserve an award of sorts for the job they’ve pulled together so far. And you can’t knock away credit from the players. Zach Thelen has emerged as the all-around threat in every aspect of the game the Blue Devils needed while offensive production is coming in droves from senior Merrick Nicksic, sophomore Dylan Putman and freshman Trevor Hensley. Overall the team has bought in to the product and only have room for growth through the regular season.

Senior Zach Thelen goes in-between defenders in the Blue Devils 51-37 win on Tuesday over Happy Valley (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell)

Senior Zach Thelen goes in-between defenders in the Blue Devils 51-37 win on Tuesday over Happy Valley (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell)

That being said – it’ll be a four team with the Blue Devils, Elizabethton, Sullivan South and Sullivan East. Each team has their own cog. Elizabethton has Tyler Nichols, Sullivan South has Will Blair and Christian Comsa while Sullivan East has Gavin Grubb. You need a player(s) to take over in postseason time and so far in this early season, the players haven’t missed the quota on providing sparks for wins. Johnson County will be lurking in the waters with last year’s district MVP Chase Phillips (can’t place them in my district title mix just yet – honestly have seen them play) while Sullivan North and Happy Valley have shown they scrap and potentially bust a bubble during tourney time.

Girls side - Elizabethton is Elizabethton. Enough said. Probably better than last year but they’ll have to keep their eyes on Happy Valley, Sullivan East and to an extant Unicoi County. The Lady Warriors had the Cyclones sweating in their first meeting this season while East, loaded from last year, kept pace with the squad in the jamboree and will provide it once again when they meet. Even the Lady Devils, their record doesn’t show it just yet but the team is too dangerous to overlook with their shooters and in-your-face defensive presence that nearly netted a come-from-behind victory against the Lady Warriors. Along with Sullivan South, look for UC/HV/East to duel it out for the No. 2 – No. 5 spots. Johnson County and Sullivan North – you have to applaud the credit. Coaches and kids deserve better, just a lack of depth to choose from in the area.

The Lady Devils will have their first chance at Sullivan East on Tuesday (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell)

The Lady Devils will have their first chance at Sullivan East on Tuesday (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell)

Feel free to comment below on a team that has surprised you this season. Early season with a lot of ball left, who do you have as the conference champions?

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It’s almost a new year. The Erwin Record is currently in the works of providing a Top 10 of 2014. Have a moment that sticks out? Feel free to email at ccarden@erwinrecord.net and your moment could appear in the final issue of The Erwin Record for this year.

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Really want to give a big thanks for all the support for the increased traffic for the social media sites. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I’ve plugged before but the followers, likes, whatever else, don’t mean too much. We’ve utilized these tools to help keep updates on local athletes across the area. In 2014, there was a dramatic spike up and I greatly appreciate it. I enjoy the writing, the more support shown, the more tools I’ll look into and bring them to the coverage forte.

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That’ll wrap up it up for this go around. More posts online will be featured in the coming weeks.

You can follow along on a multitude of online sites.

Twitter: @CurtisCarden_ER

Facebook: The Erwin Record Sports

Instagram: curtcarden

This, that, and then some – In The Bleachers

June 25, 2014 by

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After regrouping from watching the devastating loss the United States Men’s National Team had to Portugal (so what it was a draw… felt worse than a loss) in the World Cup, In Overtime is back with another installment of ‘In The Bleachers’ – a series featured to spotlight things locally and nationally with a little bit of fun thrown in between.

Catch this week’s Erwin Record? You know where I’m going with the first topic.


Gillis’ experience going to be key heading forward as baseball coach

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Chad Gills was named head coach of UCHS last week

The Erwin Record broke the news Thursday afternoon that assistant coach Chad Gillis would be promoted within the ranks to take over the helm for retired head coach Charlie Baxter. We’ve spent time online and in the paper talking about what Gillis will bring to the program, the talent coming back… but what about that Three Rivers Conference? Where do the Blue Devils look to head when the season starts?

Graduation hits hard with six seniors gone from the 2014 team but first things are first – a team isn’t about one guy but upcoming sophomore Brandon Garland has the Blue Devils in the mix just from being the anchor in the bullpen. In regards to the ‘pen, that will look to be a sweet spot for 2015. Will Hubbard, a rising senior, made tremendous stride on the hill for the Blue Devils last season while Sam McInturff, another up-and-coming senior, has the stuff but was in a limited role serving as the Blue Devils’ catcher. A pair of sophomores also control the headlines with Garland. Gabe Thomas made stride during the offseason, per Gillis, including a dominat showing a couple of weeks ago in a win over Dobyns-Bennett. Multi-sport athlete Dylan Putman is another. Putman actually recorded the final regular season win last year against Elizabethton and provided some versatility at first base with Adam Hensley down due to a shoulder injury.

Way to0 early to make predictions – but UCHS has to be in the talk as a front-runner with Sullivan South and Sullivan East… and you can’t forget about ‘Betsy and Happy Valley coming around the corner with young talent

Gillis, Andy Baxter and Keith Greer won’t miss a beat next season.


FWIW Material

In regards to other coaching searches – the Unicoi County High School volleyball head coach will be filled as soon as possible, from Director of Schools Denise Brown. We’ll keep you updated on who’ll get the nod and how they’ll fare with the squad and on any other breaking news from the coaches.


Unicoi County athletes! Have any pictures from preparing for the upcoming 2014-2015 athletic seasons? Feel free to send them over via Twitter or Facebook and we’ll feature you online and maybe in an edition of The Erwin Record? 

I will personally ban duckfaces though. We gotta get that gone from society… as soon as possible.


 

7-on-7 awaits UCHS Blue Devils in July

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The dead period is on the local athletics for the next two weeks but things will be lively at Hampton for the Unicoi County High School football team in July.

The Blue Devils will compete in the 7-on-7 camp held at Hampton High School beginning July 18 against a bevy of local teams. As far of the tenative schedule goes – the Blue Devils will make a trek to Mosheim to face the West Greene Buffaloes in August before the TRC Jamboree set for August 15. 

Listed is the 2014 schedule for the UCHS Blue Devil Football Program

  • August 22nd at home against Hampton
  • August 29th at David Crockett

  • September 5th at Sullivan North

  • September 12th at Gatlinburg-Pittman

  • September 19th at Sullivan South

  • September 26 OPEN

  • October 3 at home against Sullivan East

  • October 10 at home against Johnson County (Homecoming)

  • October 17 at Happy Valley

  • October 24 at home against Elizabethton (Breast Cancer Awareness Night/Pinkout Night)

  • October 31 at home against Sullivan Central (Senior Night)

The TSSAA Class 4A playoffs will begin the first week of November. Information on the TSSAA plans on football playoffs being reclassified, booster club events, schedules updates and more – be sure to check each Wednesday edition of The Erwin Record or online on our multiple sites.


USA, USA, USA

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Social media bandwagoning at it’s finest. While the Twitterverse, Facebookland, and other online avenues have seen their fair share of people that complain about the country start to rally behind a soccer team that they couldn’t probably name three members for – an interesting arguement was brought up by the national talking heads on futbol.

It was released that last week’s US-Portugal 2-2 average 18.6 million viewers and was the highest-ever rated soccer contest watch in the states, surpassing 1999’s Women’s World Cup final (USA v. China). Could soccer be on the rise nationally? There’s been constant pushes to get it towards the mecca of broadcasting with the likes of the NFL, MLB, NFL and even NCAA’s now-forgone BCS system for football and the March Madness. 

If the US keeps up their hot straight – they can potentially break through and get this sport some national consideration. Why? Twitter and Faceook junkies of course.

The spike of social media has made postivies – and negatives of course with the pyschos – and with the popularity of sites like Twitter and Facebook could bend the popularity factor of the sport like Beckham. Seeing the US get through the ‘group of death’ can potentially get to the younger folks of wanting to get that level.

Bandwagoning should be frowned upon (cough some Heat and Seahawk fans cough) but if anyone gives you grief for hopping on the US soccer team – give them the Luis ‘Chewy Louy’ Suarez treament and walk away with Toby Keith playing in the background.


ICYMI -

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We featured the opening round of the UCLL all-stars in this week’s paper. For up to date coverage on the little tikes storming the fields in the Tri-Cities, be sure to stay up to date with The Erwin Record. We’ll be featuring game coverage and photos on each team in each edition of upcoming papers.


 

We’ll got a few sites you can check out online to help prepare for each Wednesday edition of The Erwin Record.

Facebook: The Erwin Record Sports

Twitter: @CurtisCarden

Pheed: Curtis Carden

Instagram: curtcarden


And for a nod to our USMNT squaring off against Germany tomorrow

 

 


Curtis is an award-winning sportswriter for The Erwin Record. Along with coverage in Unicoi County, he is a writer for The Cardinal Nation and the Elizabethton Star.

Gillis handed the keys of Baxter Field

June 19, 2014 by

The Erwin Record received confirmation via telephone Thursday evening that the search is over for a new baseball coach at Unicoi County High School.

Assistant coach Chad Gillis will officially take over the reins as the upcoming head  coach for the Blue Devils. Gillis is replacing Charlie Baxter, who retired after 40-plus years as a head coach in Unicoi County and finished with the title as the state’s record holder for most wins (including softball and baseball) and five combined state titles – four in baseball and one in softball.

Gillis has been part of the coaching staff since 2013. Prior to that, he played collegiate baseball as a pitcher for Walters State (2001-2003 and Carson-Newman (2003-2006). Gillis graduated UCHS in 2001, playing for Dr. Chris Bogart, current principal and member of the interview committee.

“We had six resumes and had three candidates come in today to interview,” Director of Schools Denise Brown said. “We thought his experience at the collegiate level really gave him an edge over the other applicants. He’s a Blue Devil and knows what the program needs to continue to be successful.”

With the experiences of coach Joey Seaver and Ken Campbell of Walters State, Tom Griffin at Carson-Newman, and coach Baxter – Gillis is ready to make his mark in Unicoi County.

“I’m excited about this opportunity,” he said in an interview with The Erwin Record. “It’s been a dream job for me since I was little. I know the tradition that comes with this job. We’re going to work to put a good product on the field each year.”

Gillis has served as the interim head coach for the team during the summer.


 

Be sure to check out The Erwin Record’s June 25 edition for more from coach Gillis and interviews with Mrs. Brown, Dr. Bogart and athletic director Michael Smith.


For up to date information on Unicoi County athletics, be sure to follow The Erwin Record online via The Erwin Record Sports Facebook page or on Twitter at @CurtisCarden_ER.

Happy Father’s Day… In Overtime?

June 13, 2014 by

Whether it is good or bad, never take advantage of your family members.

Sunday is Father’s Day, of course, so I decided to deleve into my grandfather and father that helped shape me into the weird, immature guy I am today. 


My grandfather was defintely an aspiring influence in my life to be where I’m at with my life. Raymond Carden was a God-fearing man, that knew how to put the fear of God in you when you did something bad. So needless to say when I was with pappaw, there was no acting up on my end.

He helped me strive for my dreams and helped me get to be where I’m at today. Never take advantage of what you have, because it’s almost be four years now since he passed… and I’d love to have him back.


My dad, Charles Carden, is an interesting character. You would never find a harder-working man and that is one skill I’ll take from him teaching me growing up. He was also a big supporters when I played sports (including my ballin’ three points in an under .500 basketball tournament in fifth grade and base-running with a broke wrist in eighth grade). He even supported me in my football endeavors, which I’m appreicative of, because without that – I’m sure I wouldn’t be here to this day.

Even with the negative (Which will be shared with the future Mrs. Carden or in my autobiography proofread by Nicholas Sparks after a fifth Puliziter Prize), I’m glad to have experience it. It’s a great learning experience for when I’m able to grow my family and become a father and husband. Just never take advantage of things.

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A special thanks to all the fathers, grandfathers and other men that step into roles to take care of kids. Take this day you deserve.


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The trail continues for the new search for a baseball skipper at Unicoi County High School. In case you missed the earlier update, the Blue Devils will be interviewing potential coaches this week. Stay up to date with The Erwin Record online for more information.


Another issue coming up is the re-sodding at Gentry Stadium. Over $61,000 is looked to be the right amount to get things going for August as the Blue Devils open up ther football season in a clash against Hampton in August. Interviews with Gridiron president Michael Hensley will appear in the 6/18 issue of The Erwin Record.


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The Erwin IronPigs will be action this Sunday at Mary Hughes in a tussle with Tri-Cities Brave at 1 p.m. The team is comprised of local players, including collegiate standouts, so feel free to stop on by and support the club – managed by Andy Slagle… shown above throwing the ball in recent action.


You can follow The Erwin Record online on a bevy of sites including:

Twitter: @CurtisCarden_ER

Facebook: The Erwin Record Sports

Instagram: curtcarden

Pheed: Curtis Carden


 

 

 

 

 

 

This, that and the other – In Overtime is back.

June 11, 2014 by

It’s been a busy summer for Unicoi County when it comes to athletics.

Without further ado, let us take a tour with some of the headlines coming from the Valley Beautiful.

(In Overtime allows me to interact with readers with a more personal feel to take time to delve into Unicoi County news, been a bit light on content due to some business of course, but it’s the summer - I’m here to entertain or get shunned – with some knowledge in-between with this blog.)

New additions to Gentry Stadium

The Unicoi County High School program recently unveiled new equipment and renovations done to the Gentry Stadium field house,last week with $27,000 going towards everything thanks in part to donations from community members, the coaching staff and school officials.

While the change riles up the base for first year head coach Bob McElwee and Co. and will help with progression, the program isn’t exactly working with a bare cabinet.

Credit still goes out to the coaching staff last year from former head coach Jerad Huskins and his past assistants, and back to former head coach Doug Cooper.

We’ll go in a timeline order; Cooper was the head coach prior to the Huskins’ regime and worked with what he had in a loaded conference that included Tennessee High and Sullivan South and improved Sullivan Central and Elizabethton squads in their hay-days on a regular basis. It was a progression upwards even with a no-win season the year prior to Huskins installment into the program.

Hard to make a winner with only a handful of athletes inside the rotation

 

The previous coaching staff may of had 15-37 record overall, but the trend was heading upward. Back-to-back playoff seasons, a .500 regular season record the year prior. It’s hard to make a program into a winner over night. Colleges may have that luxury when a bundle of five-star freshmen hit the campus on day-one, but it’s a bit of a different animal locally. Excitement was brought, kids competed, and the job at Unicoi County was looking more and more improved. (Ask the local coaches the team played against and the applicants who applied in 2014). Plus a handful of assistants are now patrolling sidelines in west Tennessee.

The hiring of coach ‘Mac’ looks to be a continued trend upwards. Experiencing the highs and lows, experiencing the glory days in California back in the 80s. The trend here is experience – Mac brings a bevy of knowledge to the game and a loaded assistant core helps matters.

It’ll only be dividends for the returning players. A regular season rushing champion and record-holder with Luke Fronckoski, a QB who has went through the fire with Cody Jack Rogers. Weapons on the corner (Hunter Hensley, Eli Gillis, Brandon Caldwell) who can also play some mean time in the secondary… a hoss of a runner/linebacker in Leon Dover…linemen like Erik Arnett, Justin Nelson, Chris Johnson… a senior tight end/defensive end with Will Shelton… and an upcoming solid sophomore and freshmen core.

You see the trend here?

It looks to be an exciting season with the regime in place and very well could be a productive season that leads to postseason endeavors. The UCHS job was definitely no sinking ship; however, the school board did a smash up job finding a seasoned leader to continue sailing the seas of the Three Rivers. Plus I always look forward to a Hampton/Unicoi opener. Season-opener will be August 22nd inside Gentry against the Bulldogs.

  • For information on the news on a potential shakeup of playoff reclassification for football, you can check out this piece by the Tennessean: http://lms.usatodayhss.com/nashville/articles/item/2463-high-school-football-playoffs-under-review

Baxter Field looking for a new skipper

Following the retirement of hall of fame coach Charlie Baxter, the school board has been in the process of searching for a new body to lead the Blue Devils baseball program in 2015.

Interviews begin next week with three candidates, names of candidates are being withheld during the process, and if everything pans out – a new skipper can be in place as soon as the end of next week.

With son, Andy, reportedly not pursuing the job, it’ll be interesting to see where the tides turn for the new positions.

In a point of interest; assistant coach Chad Gillis has been serving as the interim skipper throughout the summer routine and the squad has shown progression battling teams like Dobyns-Bennett down to the wire with six graduated seniors.

With a college resume and experience with the program, it may not be that hard of a search when things are said and done.

Around the county

The UCHS volleyball program is also in the hunt for a new head coach following Junia Gindlesperger stepping down from the spot after serving in the interim last season. Former Milligan assistant and referee Frank Forsythe is currently serving in the interim with off-season workouts. A decision on a new head coach will be made in the coming weeks.,The UCHS Lady Devil and Blue Devil program has been also hard at work on the hardwood this summer with both teams participating in camps at UT-Chattanooga (Lady Devils) and Tennessee Tech (Blue Devils). We’ll have a look at the camp progression in coming weeks of the paper.

From me to you

I definitely have nothing but a huge thanks out there for the readers of The Erwin Record. The Record’s sports Twitter account is nearing 700 followers while our separate Facebook page is closing in on the 550 mark. Also have to announce for the second year in a row of nominations since the passing of Kevin Lewis, the Erwin Record Sports’ will receive Tennessee Press Association hardware in July placing in the top of our division in writing and coverage. You all make this happen, with the support I’ll keep doing my best of keeping tabs on everything inside (and outside) of the area. I do have a future wife I need to impress. 

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And Emma Watson is somebody worth impressing.

But that puts the stamp on another In Overtime. Enjoy it? Feel free to share some feedback and we’ll get things rolling with another shortly.

You can follow along with The Erwin Record Sports…just about everywhere.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Erwin-Record-Sports/110099162405853?ref=bookmarks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CurtisCarden_ER/status/476460213873442816
Instagram: curtcarden
Pheed: Curtis Carden

And the tradition continues… a song to help things run smooth while reading.

Blue Devils advance to Region 1-AA final, secure substate bid

February 26, 2014 by

 

 

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(Ethan Rice puts a up floater among a host of Blue Devils and Longhorns. Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell) 

With some run-and-gun, it’s back to familiar territory for the Unicoi County High School Blue Devils.
Led behind a career high night from Keith Arrowood (25 points, 10 rebounds), UCHS defeated Johnson County, 72-50, in the Region 1-AA semifinals held at Hal Henard Gym on Tuesday night.
The Blue Devils (26-6) move on to the Region 1-AA championship game on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. against Greeneville with a region title on the line.
“It says a lot about the character of our guys,” UCHS head coach John English said. “To go from getting put out in district to have ourselves in a position to go to state is big for the team.”
After a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Longhorns (16-13) capped off the final four minutes in the half with a 13-4 run.
It was an adjustment on defense, according to Arrowood, that helped stymie any chances of a Longhorn rally in the second half.
“Keith went 25 and 10 for us tonight but the biggest thing was his play on Chase Phillips,” English said.
Phillips ended the first half with nine points and the Blue Devils were able to limited the ‘Horn to just three in the second half.
“We knew we had to keep him from rebounding,” Arrowood said. “We knew if they needed a bucket, they would go to him or (Brian) Dempsey so we went to a box one and played a lot better on defense.”
Johnson County opened up the third on a 4-1 run and cut the lead to one with 6:44 to go, 34-33.
Not to be outdone, UCHS rattled off a 15-3 run to end the quarter with a 49-36.
“We wanted to run,” English said. “And we wanted to stay aggressive.”
The aggressive play continued with UCHS outscoring the Longhorns 24-14 in the fourth to keep their season alive.”
Lucas Hensley (14 points) and Ethan Rice (13 points, seven assists) went into double figures.
“It’s big having that type of scoring,” Hensley, who added a pair of threes in the first quarter, said. “It helps free up our posts and we’d love to do that every night.
“We played tense the first two quarters but we were able to play our ball in the second half.”
Thomas Tipton and Connor Simpson added six points for UCHS while Nic Chambers and Zach Thelen rounded out the scoring with four apiece.
As far as the rest of the postseason goes, it’s all about playing traditional Blue Devil basketball, according to Arrowood.
“We’ve just got to play calm and collective,” Arrowood said. “Limit our turnovers and play good defense.”
Johnson County was led by Brian Dempsey with 23 points. Phillips added 12.
The task is tall ahead with Greeneville coming off a thrilling 53-50 win over Elizabethton in the other semifinal contest.
“You’d like to have a home substate game,” English said. “But we know we have a tall task ahead. We’re going to have our hands full.”
Tuesday’s victory also guaranteed UCHS a substate game for Monday.
In the Region 2-AA championship, CAK will face Carter/Alcoa winner at Alcoa on Thursday at 7 p.m. The winner of UCHS/Greeneville will host the runner-up from Region 2, Region 1’s second-place team will travel.
For updates on Region 2 finals and coverage of the postseason, be sure to follow The Erwin Record Sports on Facebook at on Twitter at: @CurtisCarden_ER.

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Unicoi County 72

Johnson County

UC 16  17  16  23

JC  12  16    7  14

UC: Arrowood 25, Hensley 14, Rice 13, Simpson 6, Tipton 6, Chambers 4, Thelen 4, Green 0. JC: Dempsey 23, Phillips 12, Timbs 7, Speed 5, Bailie 2, Vannoy 1, South 0.

3-point goals: UC: 5 (Hensley 2, Tipton 2, Rice) JC: 3 (Phillips 2, Timbs 1)

All that and then some – ‘In The Bleachers’

February 10, 2014 by

 

 

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It wasn’t a bad way to cap off the regular season.

Connor Simpson was up to his old tricks again, hitting his second-game-winner this season in the Blue Devils 52-51 win over the Class A powerhouse, Hampton High, on Saturday. The Lady Devils hit a bit of a snag against the Lady Bulldogs, 42-37, but will be coasting into the tournament on a high note by securing a fourth seed by defeating Johnson County – 68-38 on Saturday.

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Austin Green had the hot-hand Saturday with 14 points (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell) 

The Blue Devils enter the tournament in a 360 from last year by securing the first seed in the tournament and an automatic bid to the regional tournament. UCHS will have Nic Chambers back in the post after he missed Saturday with a sprained ankle. The Blue Devils guards; Ethan Rice, Keith Arrowood, Austin Green, Zach Thelen, Lucas Hensley, Thomas Tipton… (there’s a few) have hit a stride heading into tournament time – by grinding out wins in a close encounters.

Not a romantic novel. But the past two games have been close for UCHS. And those wins only help when entering a tournament field where it seems anyone could beat anybody on a given night. With the momentum on their side, UCHS can look to make some noise.

 

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A team full of shooters but Jr. post Destinie Hayes adds another element to the squad. (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell) 

The Lady Devils enter postseason time in fourth and are working to adjustment after Sr. Whitley True went down due to back injury to end her season. The Lady Devils fell shorts against Hampton but got the motivation they needed on Friday by netting five girls in double figures.

When the team is on, they’re on, and will be a tough outing for just about anyone.

It’s all about playing up to their potential for the Lady Devils. Sitting at 12-15, the team were a few points shy during the regular season over turning that into a .500 record. You can’t write off UCHS. Elizabethton is the favorite but don’t be surprised in the least bit if you see the Lady Devils, guided by head coach Kerri King, make a sizable postseason run.

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District 1-AA Tournament at Happy Valley High School

Boys Schedule

2) Sullivan South vs 7) Happy Valley – Wednesday, Feb. 12 – 8 p.m.

3) Elizabethton vs 6) Sullivan North  – Friday, Feb. 14 – 6:30 p.m.

4) Johnson County vs 5) Sullivan East – Friday, Feb. 14 – 8 p.m.

Sullivan South/Happy Winner vs Elizabethton/Sullivan North Winner – Saturday, Feb. 15 – 5:30 p.m.

Unicoi County vs Johnson County/Sullivan East Winner – Saturday, Feb. 15 – 8:30 p.m.

Third place consolation game – Tuesday, Feb. 18 – 6:30 p.m. 

Championship game – Tuesday, Feb. 18 – 8 p.m.

Girls Schedule

2) Sullivan East vs 7) Sullivan North – Wednesday, Feb. 12 – 6:30 p.m.

3) Sullivan South vs 6) Johnson County – Thursday, Feb. 13 – 6:30 p.m.

4) Unicoi County vs 5) Happy Valley – Thursday, Feb. 13 – 8 p.m.

Sullivan East/Sullivan North Winner vs Sullivan South/Johnson County Winner – Saturday, Feb. 15 – 4 p.m.

Elizabethton vs Unicoi County/Happy Valley Winner – Saturday, Feb. 15 – 7 p.m.

Third place consolation game – Monday, Feb. 17 – 6:30 p.m.

Championship game – Monday, Feb. 17 – 8 p.m.

Unicoi County Blue Devils and Elizabethton Lady Cyclones have both received automatic bids to the upcoming regional tournament. The winners of the play-in games will all advance to the regional tournament.

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When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort–it is ready to climb.— Pat Riley

 

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Unicoi County’s got their Bob. Now it’s time to see if he can be a builder.

The Blue Devils have been conducting offseason weightlifting activities since last week under new head coach Robert McElwee. The numbers look to be promising, with currently over 40 student-athletes preparing for the Fall. Not including athletes in basketball, of course. The UCHS team will be working on fundraisers, along with the UCHS Gridiron Club, to raise money for the program. Renovations to the weight room, field, etc. Look for future stories on tap in the coming week’s on the progression of the UCHS football program. Don’t blink. Before you know it, we’ll be back under the Friday night lights at Gentry Stadium.

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Today’s marks the beginning of official practices for spring athletics across the state, according to the TSSAA.

*Cough, Cough* Official.

Teams have been hard at working preparing for what’s looking to be a competitive league in Class AA. Unicoi County is looked as probable favorites in baseball and unless you just hold a personal vendetta from your car getting smacked by a UCHS Lady Devil home run – the Lady Devils look to be the favorite to make it back to Murfreesboro. And you can’t forget about track and tennis. It seemed like just yesterday, we were presenting The Erwin Record’s award-winning sports preview (shameless plug out of the wayfor basketball and now, in a few weeks, it’ll be time to bring out the heavy hitters in Spring. Best of luck to all those preparing for your respective seasons, you’re practicing for the sun and you’ll be out in what seems like a Narnia-Winter wonderland. May the odds be in your favor. 

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Want to feed the mailbag? Any questions, comments, or whatever you may want to send over my way can be emailed to: ccarden@erwinrecord.net. I’ll reply back to some questions on here in future posts. Preferably, I’d like to get the digits of Jennifer Lawrence after seeing American Hustle, but I’ll take what I can get.

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She’s a year older than me. A man can dream.

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The 2/12 issue of The Erwin Record will brought to you by the letter ‘E’ – for Everything. A look back at Unicoi County High School hoops, the Unicoi County Middle School’s run through the sectional tournament, photos, ETSU football… and honestly just a bunch of other material that I can remember off the top of my head. It’s busy behind the computer this time of the year.

And to think – high school spring sports are on the way. Softball, baseball, track, tennis.

Anyone perfect cloning yet? I may need your digits come March. Either that or a number to a nice beach house in Florida after the Spring Fling.

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We’re not only a Wednesday paper. Feel free to find us online daily, you’ll probably see me updating something. Actually you will, I think I have OCD.

Facebook: The Erwin Record Sports

Twitter: @CurtisCarden_ER 

Instagram: curtcarden

Pheed: curtiscarden

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Feel free to check back at some of the earlier posts on In Overtime. 

And since it’s a running theme – here’s some Breathe Carolina for all you hoppin’ party people.

The Journey, Press Play

February 6, 2014 by

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Often times, I ask myself… “Why?”

Why am I here? Why am I in Tennessee? Why was a born with the last name Carden? Why can’t I have a fully manageable beard.

Press Play:

All jokes aside. For the people who follow this blog, you all know that it’s kept updated from time to time on Unicoi County athletics, and other sports, in an attempt to keep the public up to date.

It’s something I find solace in. My comfort zone. There’s nothing more peaceful with a bit of music going sitting in front of a laptop, or notepad, and just letting your mind run free on finding the right phrase and word play to help weave some information into an entertaining, yet knowledgeable stance for people to view. People get into the ‘profession’ of journalism for many reasons.

Knowledge. Fame. Something to kill time. And for the others — it’s an avenue to bring your words to life.

It’s a way to document events, activities… your life.

I remember back in 2006, during my freshmen year at Hampton High School, I finished an assignment in my English class. At this time — it was football season. I was in a classroom with 30-plus kids. It was considered the ‘Honors’ English class, which I still find funny to this day. Out of the amount of kids in the room — there were about four guys who were on the football team, me being one.

After assignments, we had time to talk. Cut up, talk about what’s going on after school, after practice – blah, blah, blah.

I had the sudden urge to work on a book. Not sure why, and I honestly believe I threw the paper away once I finished, but I went to work. It was the story of a solider, on a ship I believe, setting sail to an unnamed destination – writing a letter to his unborn son about events that occurred in the past. 

That was the best moment I can relive from that class. It was probably the most nerdy, dorky, odd thing I’ve done in high school. But I remember breaking a smile when I went to work on it. Some people have it, some people don’t. I was lucky to be one that enjoy storytelling. And my memory was of the teacher — an assistant football coach Scott Bunton — taking the time to read it and said it was good. Probably just to send me back to my seat, almost positive it was, but it helped breathe life into a love writing.

Fast forward — My senior year. At this point, a whirlwind occurred. My parents were separated. It was my Mother and I, and at the end of my junior year, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Football was an after thought. I, for some random reason, wanted to quit to focus on writing. The end of my sophomore year — I was in a four-wheeler wreck that cracked part of spinal cord — so needless to say, one way or another, I took it from the powers to be that maybe I shouldn’t play. I was asked at the end of my junior year to play my senior year by then head coach Michael Lunsford. I revisit that moment in life from time to time. I wanted to play but with everything happening at that time and from the past I said no, still some shreds of regret linger to this day.

Ultimately it was a blessing in disguise. My junior English teach Rebekah Harris talked me into joining the Journalism class for my last year in school. I knew what a basketball and football were, so I was tossed into being the sports writer of the paper.

I was able to keep a level balance. Cover events, take care of my mother, do my work, participate in events. I kept busy. It’s another thing I love, as long as something is going on, I’m happy — so I didn’t mind it at all.

Press fast forward a bit more. Late October, 2010.

I was in my freshman year at ETSU. I had sent emails to local papers offering to work as an intern, cover some games — never received a reply. Which I expected.

Then something unexpected came. My grandfather, Raymond Carden, was getting sick. The man who was that positive male influence in my life. Taught me everything I needed to know — and from time to time threaten to beat me with a switch if I ever missed Sunday School at Union Baptist Church.

I turned 20 on Oct. 29th — Oct. 31st would be my last conversation with my Pap-paw. Up until that point, he was in bad shape with memory loss, but I remember that night in the ICU room when he and I just talked, like nothing was wrong.

How’s school going? You OK? Know what you want to do? The last thing I remember him saying to me was him being proud of me being the only guy from our family to go to college.

I shrugged it off, thinking things would be OK. Told him I loved him, shook his hand and left.

The next day, he passed away.

I lost it. Sitting at Sycamore Shoals I tried my best to keep a straight face. Be there for the family. The next day was the funeral. Kept up the front then went to my car at Tetrick Funeral home and cried.

I didn’t know what to do. The one person who openly supported me. The man I that thought I could do no wrong was gone. The glue of our family… What was I suppose to do?

Depression isn’t a fun thing. And it’s a serious issue. I didn’t miss school, kept doing my homework and it the back of my mind — I couldn’t quit replaying those final moments in Elizabethton on Oct. 31st.

Then I got out my laptop, and started typing. I let my mind run free — and I was able to smile.

Events continued to play our then I received a Facebook message from Mrs. Harris asking me if I’d be interested in covering sports for ‘The Erwin Record’. I honestly didn’t even know what that was at the time. But of course, I jumped on the offer.

Then publisher — Mark Steven — gave me a call during a Thanksgiving dinner at Union Baptist Church. I missed the call, called him back in the parking lot. We chatted, discussed the ‘Bulldog Bark’ (the Hampton High school paper) then asked me to come in for an interview.

Disc 2:

I was scared as could be during the interview process. Mr. Stevens was nice as he could be, I about freaked out. Talks of covering events, interviewing coaches — I thought I was in a dream. I learned of the previous writer — Kevin Lewis. Checking back through his logs, hearing his past success, the awards in New York, Tennessee. I about said no, but of course, caught up in the moment — I said yes.

Fast Forward: Today

It’s crazy on getting the chance to look back at the events I was able to participate in. Covering championships, meeting great friends, coaches, athletes. Then there’s the negative side — people who’ll try to undercut for a story, nab information, and of course — simply people you can’t get along with. It comes with the territory of course.

But that’s why I’ll always be glad of my opportunity in Erwin. Nestled in the Valley Beautiful, the office put faith in me to carry out an award-winning writers legacy. We’ve been able to win awards for sports coverage from the Tennessee Press Association in my time here. We’ve been able to forge great friendships with the readers, coaches and athletes.

And of course, they’ve allowed me to continue something that’s kept me going to this day — Writing.

I’m not sure what’s ahead. There are always the future dreams of becoming broadcaster or journalist at ESPN, Fox Sports. Or maybe become an author? Or maybe become an auditor for the IRS? Heck, I may not even make it to see tomorrow.

But no matter what happens in the future, I know I can continue to find solace in writing. And I hope that maybe one day, my experiences can be used as a building block for someone wanting to pursue an endeavor to become a writer. Doesn’t even have to be sports, of course.

You can never be afraid to follow your dream. However many problems you face in your life, you never now how long your journey will go…

But never forget to press PLAY.

Key Conference Tilts Await This Weekend

January 16, 2014 by

Winter weather has hit once again, thankfully not as bad as it was early this month, but feel free to grab some hot chocolate and take in some Thursday reading.

After a pair of blowout wins on Tuesday, its coming down to crunch time for Unicoi County High School’s varsity program.

The Blue Devils and Lady Devils will host two contests this week, beginning with Happy Valley on Friday, Jan. 17, and end the week with a Saturday tilt against Sullivan South.

UCHS Blue Devils

Three Rivers Conference Standings (MBB)

1) Sullivan South

2) Unicoi County

3) Elizabethton

4) Johnson County

5) Sullivan East

6) Sullivan North

7) Happy Valley

Along with Connor Simpson, Nic Chambers has helped the Blue Devils seal up a dominating post presence in the past four games. (Erwin Record Staff Photo By Adam Campbell)

Along with Connor Simpson, Nic Chambers has helped the Blue Devils seal up a dominating post presence in the past four games. (Erwin Record Staff Photo By Adam Campbell)

The Blue Devils host Happy Valley on Friday. Both teams met back on Tuesday, Dec. 3, with UCHS taking a 78-42 contest over the Warriors. While the team has a high-octane contest in store on Friday, the team isn’t taking this stretch lately, according to senior Nic Chambers.

“We know we control our own destiny,” Chambers said in a recent interview with The Erwin Record. “We want to win the conference title and we want to use that as a building block of other stuff we’re wanting to accomplish.”

The team enters the stretch after recording a league victory over a feisty Sullivan North squad.

“It’s like like what we talked about in the locker room,” head coach John English said following the team’s 67-51 win against Sullivan North on Tuesday, Jan. 14. “We’re in the thick of a conference race and we need to be focus every night. There’s not a lot of time left, you want your trajectory pointing up going into tournaments and it’s that time now that we play consistent and playing up to the level we’re capable of each night.”

After a bit of a stagnant first quarter – the team went on to lock in and pull away with the victory. Nic Chambers (14 points), Connor Simpson (13 points), Keith Arrowood (11 points) and Ethan Rice (10 points) all hit double figure scoring totals in the contest.

The gears are stir churning but the weapons are in place for a potential deep run inside the postseason. One of the key instruments to the recent success has been the play of Simpson (a double-double in past three contests and has recorded 21, 30 and 13 point games in the past three league wins) in the post.

Connor Simpson has made a case for the league's MVP nomination. (Erwin Record Staff Photo By Adam Campbell)

Connor Simpson has made a case for the league’s MVP nomination. (Erwin Record Staff Photo By Adam Campbell)

UCHS has rattled off a four game win streak since their loss to Jeff County in the Super 16 tournament Saturday, Dec. 28.

A developed bench has come into play – with Keith Arrowood providing a defensive spark after recovering from a broken leg – the senior posted his first double-digit scoring game this season, with all 11 points coming in the first half against North.

Thomas Tipton, Zach Thelen, Sam Wilder, Austin Hendrickson also provided depth on the varsity level and the ‘Twin Towers’ have another tower getting built with Jr. Will Shelton starting to bulldoze his way in the post.

Lucas Hensley and Austin Green are the pair of guards who make up the starting five with Chambers, Rice and Simpson, and provide ball-handling prowess and those ‘key’ shots a team needs to start up a rally.

HVHS enters Erwin on Friday after suffering a 78-36 loss to Erwin,

And there may even be a chance UCHS and South will enter Saturday’s contest tied with one league loss apiece.

Sullivan South (currently 5-0) in league action, hosts Sullivan East on Friday and head the direction of John Dyer – recently honored during the squad’s game against Johnson County on Tuesday for his years coaching – you really can’t count out the Patriots. South has won the past three meetings against East; however, with the squad clicking following their appearance in the Arby’s Classic.

Both games are set with a 8 p.m. tip-off

UCHS Lady Devils

Three Rivers Conference Standings (WBB)

1) Elizabethton

2) Sullivan East

3) Sullivan South

4) Unicoi County

5) Happy Valley

6) Johnson County

7) Sullivan North

The guys aren’t the only ones with an important stretch of games this weekend. After eclipsing a 7-10 record, the squad rattled off three straight wins – including two league victories – to move back into the .500 territory with a 10-10 record and tied for third in the league with Sullivan East at 4-2.

The team currently has a starting ‘seven’ according to head coach Kerri King. Destinie Hayes, Hannah Rice, Chelsey Harness, Morgan Lee Brown and Haley Webb have been the starting five the past three contests. Sr. Whitley True has been sideline due to injury and Jr. Emily Lynch has been a vital sixth ‘woman’ for the Lady Devils.

On Tuesday, during the squad’s 77-29 with over Sullivan North, the depth continued to extend with Fr. Neelee Griffith coming off a performance with five points, seven rebounds, four steals and a trio of assists.

Neelee Griffith is one of the bench players making plays for UCHS (Erwin Record Staff Photo By Adam Campbell)

Neelee Griffith is one of the bench players making plays for UCHS (Erwin Record Staff Photo By Adam Campbell)

“To extend our rotation for us a little bit, she’s the next one in,” King said of Griffith. “And she’s had a good game for us tonight.”

It’s a role Griffith takes seriously as a freshman. The bench combined for 20 points of the team’s final 77 Tuesday.

“I thought our junior varsity did good and our varsity team did excellent,” Griffith said. “I want to go in and help any way I can.”

And the freshman has, seeing extended time in the past trio of contests. Along with Griffith – Cassie Foster dropped eight points in the win while Haley Peterson and Ashlie Padgett got into the scoring forte.

And when it comes to the starters -it’s a group that’s continuing to develop over time. The welcome surprise in the past pair of games has been Hayes – in her Jr. season. The rebound-machine is near the 350-mark in boards 20 games in the season but saw a recent spark in offensive production with double-doubles in the past three contests. (12 points, 24 boards vs JCHS, 11 points, 24 boards vs David Crockett and 16 points, 15 boards against Sullivan North). Harness has posted double digits scoring in the past two contests – 10 points each – and Rice continues to anchor the scoring – coming off a 19-point game-high vs North.

The perimeter has continued to stay hot under the hot-shots from Webb and Brown. Webb dropped 20 against JCHS and Brown has provided sparks from behind the arc.

Channeling an inner-Reggie Miller, Morgan Lee Brown has brought an added threat to the arc (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Adam Campbell)

Channeling an inner-Reggie Miller, Morgan Lee Brown has brought an added threat to the arc (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Adam Campbell)

It’s been an adjustment, according to Brown, but that adjustment hasn’t been a negative.

“The junior varsity has played well,” she said. “And our varsity has continued to get better. With Whitley (True) being out, we’ve been stepping up to fill in for her.”

And the big win over North should catapult the girls with momentum against HVHS and South.

“It’s good for us,” she said. “It’s big for us to get back into winning and to get us back on our feet with our confidence.”

The UCHS teams won the previous encounter against HVHS on Dec. 3, 53-42. HVHS enters the game after a blowout lost to EHS.

As for Saturday, Sullivan South hosts Sullivan East and the Lady Rebels won in their last encounter but the Patriots are coming off a blowout victory against Johnson County from Tuesday.

It”s been a year of adjustments for both teams, but when they’re clicking – the teams bring back memories of old for the Blue Nation in attendance.

The UCHS girls’ tip-off times begin at 6:30 p.m. each night.

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The Erwin Record will be providing live-game coverage on the next two contests (along with contributing articles to local papers on the games). You can follow action online at The Erwin Record Sports on Facebook.

You can follow me on Twitter at: @CurtisCarden_ER for Unicoi County sports news throughout the week, along with local and national news tied in.

 

And the running theme with these In Overtime posts – to get fired up for this weekend, here’s some Van Halen.

Complete Schedule Updates for Unicoi County Athletics.

January 7, 2014 by

The Polar Vortex is no fan of sports, apparently.

Mother nature brought the hammer down with cold weather and schedules have been affected. Here’s the up to date look at this week’s Unicoi County athletics and makeup dates.

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Thursday, Jan. 9

Unicoi County Middle School Jr. Blue Devils at Ross Robinson (JV 4:30/ V 5:30). Unicoi County Middle School Jr. Lady Devils host Ross Robinson (JV 4:30/ V 5:30)

tip-off

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Friday, Jan. 10

UCHS hosts Johnson County. (MBB FR. 3:30 p.m./MBB J.V. 5 p.m./WBB V 6:30 p.m./ MBB V 8 p.m.)

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Saturday, Jan. 11

UCHS travels to David Crockett. (MBB Fr. 2 p.m./WBB JV 3:30 p.m./MBB JV 5 p.m./WBB V 6:30 p.m./ MBB V 8 p.m.)

 

RESCHEDULED DATES

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Saturday, Jan. 18 – Unicoi County High School hosts Sullivan South (Game was postponed due to inclement weather on Tuesday, Jan. 7) — WBB JV – 3:30 p.m. MBB JV – 5 p.m. WBB V – 6:30 p.m. MBB V – 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 14 – The Unicoi County Middle School/Greeneville Middle School basketball – Jr. Blue Devils will be at home, the Jr. Lady Devils will travel. Game times for both: JV at 5 p.m. and V at 6 p.m. 

Unicoi County High School boys freshmen team will play Sullivan South on Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. in Erwin. Jan. 30th – South hosts UC at 7 p.m.

For up to date information on Unicoi County athletics – be sure to follow The Erwin Record Sports on Facebook and to follow The Erwin Record sports on Twitter: @CurtisCarden_ER.


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