Changing a culture

August 31, 2015 by

For four years, Unicoi County High School football was an enigma I was unable to figure out.

Blue Devils take to the field against Sullivan East on Friday, Aug. 28.

Blue Devils take to the field against Sullivan East on Friday, Aug. 28. (Erwin Record Photo By David Sheets) 

I saw just about everything you could expect from high school football. From a winless season to back-to-back playoff berths. Entering this season, there was hype, and it was to be expected. The team was coming off a coaching turnover from the previous season and while the Blue Devils couldn’t net any wins, they still played competitive to the season’s end for then interim head coach Glenn White.

It was a off season of adjustments, coaching additions, players returning to the program … the works. Attending practices, you could see a fire and a drive from players that were tired of taking in on the chin and were ready to get the 2015 season underway.

The hype and scrimmages led into the season opener, where the Blue Devils took home a 36-33 victory over South Greene. Even with over 180 yards worth of penalties accumulated by UCHS, they were able to amass over 500 yards of offense in a thrilling come-from-behind victory.

Enter last week. Momentum was on the side of the Blue Devils. With pep rallies, parades and more, the stage was set for UCHS to move to 2-0 on the year as they headed into Mountain 8 Conference play.

Blue Devi defenders look to put a halt to Patriot Jeremiah Addison. (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell)

Blue Devi defenders look to put a halt to Patriot Jeremiah Addison. (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell)

Sullivan East wasn’t going to have it, and decided to welcome the Blue Devils back to Gentry Stadium with a 35-0 shutout on Friday.

While the game’s final score was reminiscence of years past, the first half was an indicator of the changing currently underway. The offense was stagnant due to Sullivan East’s outside pressure, which in any other circumstances would have snowballed the Blue Devils to a 35-0 disadvantage at halftime. But UCHS kept the defensive pressure alive, forced three turnovers early and had the spots to make a rally. But execution on the offensive side was unable to occur.

The offensive woes were mentioned in the post game interview with Glenn White, who accepted full responsibility for the loss about not having the right blocking adjustments in place for quarterback Hunter Hensley.

The first two games are under the belts of Blue Nation. The team experience the extreme highs and lows of season in the span of two weeks – the real calling card of this team comes with what will be shown Thursday night in Greene County.

UCHS heads into West Greene for conference play against the Buffalos – who are coming off a 22-21 victory over the South Greene Rebels. If scores are any indications, it’ll look to be a stout contest.

But something seems different about this year’s team. You can tell from the players – either on the field or even on social media – this isn’t just football season. The team continues to talk about wanting to change the culture of football inside Gentry Stadium.

Even after the season opening win, no player took any credit from the game. Every athlete continued to defer credit elsewhere. That’s a trait you won’t see much anymore.

This is a team that just isn’t to football because its football. They enjoy the game but you can see the group of 14 to 18 year olds have other intentions this year. They want to right the ship and post a winning season for the fans in the community.

This is a team that wants to change the culture.

And the tools are in place. There’s talent across the board and a nine-man coaching staff in place. The Blue Devils have the potential to cause some trouble inside the Mountain 8 Conference and are in prime position to right the ship quick with a possible win Thursday.

I’m not suppose to be here

July 4, 2015 by

Over the years, I’ve joked with the gang at The Erwin Record about an autobiography that I want to pen in the coming years.

Nearly 24 years on God’s green earth and I think I have enough material for a storyline that lasts longer than the Game of Thrones world.

But no need to delve into the details on the “meat and taters” – I just thought this would be the perfect opportunity to finally get back with In Overtime blog.

I can honestly say that I finally feel a sense of things being normal.

Dun Dun Dun. I went and jinxed myself.

But after the past year of twists and turns. I can thankfully say July has started off on a nice note.

I’ll open up a little of pandora’s box. This isn’t a slam on anyone, but this story is getting to a point, I promise.

Since February of last year. It’s been interesting to say the least. Certain intangibles from family members and situations I was placed in… I was homeless. That was a scenario I can honestly say I never thought I’d encounter, but hey – it happened.

My mother is currently in an assisted living facility and my father is currently in jail. (It isn’t a secret and no disrespect. Couldn’t ask for a great guy when he’s the Dad I know and love). I kept trying to find help with my situation with different individuals and the “help” kept digging myself into a financial and personal holes and a slew of awkward situations that put my life on hold while others were living on.

During this time I kept tabs on my duties with The Erwin Record. I will honestly say what kept me sane during that endeavor was the fact that my mind was 101% in my work and putting my faith in God to give me knowledge of doing the right thing.

The emphasis of doing the actions to better myself was easy to think than actually do. I wanted to do what’s best for me, but I’d keep doing things that ultimately led to having some pretty huge boots up and down my back.

Steady work. The work of actually focusing on bettering my situation to no longer put my life on hold came from a great host of friends and a handful of family members. I wrote earlier pieces on depression, and I would be writing this as a bold face lie if I didn’t say I was going through it. I kept up the front of random jokes, going head first into my work, but the thoughts still lingered whenever you tried to sleep at night.

But recently, things finally. The focus and drive of actually having people telling me “just worry about what you need to do” finally worked. (Just a few years late, but at least it happened). Without those individuals (you all know who you are), good possibility I may not even be here.

It goes back to the title. I shouldn’t be here today where I am, but by golly I am. I shouldn’t be writing for one of the most-decorated news publications in northeast Tennessee. I’m just a random, ‘ol Hampton native that SOMEHOW was able to turn a negative into a positive. I’m not suppose to have awards in my profession. I’m not suppose to have a future. I’m not good enough. I need to give up.

Personal battles with myself and from others, the common theme rang the same was simple. I’m not suppose to be where I am at today.

I can take pride and say that I don’t plan on going anywhere, anytime soon. It’s because of the friends, family and the folks who take time out to actually read the jargon I toss up. People cease to amaze me. The Erwin Record Sports Facebook page, my Twitter handle, my Instagram… this was all organically created. No green light from a higher-up, not being told to do it, I just did it on my own and seeing thousands on “followers”, thousands of reads, thousands of hits, thousands of views. It is a very humbling experience to see that type of support from everyone. So whether I talk to you on a day to day basis or you happen to pick up a paper or check out something online. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you everyone of you have helped an awkward 23-year-old wrestling and comic book nerd live a dream and over overcome a rough patch in my life that has a bright horizon ahead.

Don’t let any negativity deter your future. Continue to fight your battles. We have every right to live our dreams. No matter how rough gets – we are all suppose to be here.

In the bleachers: Final leg of postseason awaits Unicoi Co., Harness signs with Maryville, semi-pro football

May 8, 2015 by
Sam McInturff (7-2) emerged as the Blue Devils' No. 1 pitcher this season. (Erwin Record | Photo By Curtis Carden)

Sam McInturff (7-2) emerged as the Blue Devils’ No. 1 pitcher this season.
(Erwin Record | Photo By Curtis Carden)

It wouldn’t be spring in the Valley Beautiful without Blue Nation vying for Spring Fling tickets.

Next week begins the gauntlet for Unicoi County High School athletes with track and field, baseball and softball going through the final leg of the postseason.

Can’t wait until Wednesday’s edition of The Erwin Record? Let’s take a look at what awaits the Blue Devils’ this season.

REGION 1-AA Baseball

Unicoi County vs. Grainger –  (Monday, May 11) 7 p.m. at Baxter Field

The Blue Devils (21-10) enter the regional tournament on a hot streak, winning five straight, including two victories over Three Rivers Conference champion Sullivan South in the District 1-AA tournament held at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.

Monday’s contest against Grainger provides a bit a deja vu for Blue Nation faithful after the team met in the 2014 season – the Blue Devils won that contest 2-0 behind the arm of then-freshman Brandon Garland.

UCHS enters the contest almost an entirely new team from 2014. Garland on the shelf, six seniors gone from last season and a first year head coach in Chad Gillis — but the tradition has kept on.

An even mix of veterans and youth propelled the Blue Devils to their third consecutive district championship – led behind senior hurler Sam McInturff, District 1-AA tournament MVP.

McInturff, Will Hubbard and Nathan Derry are the trio with a vast amount of experience under their belts but they’ve taken the leadership role up with precision while first year consistent starters have made their mark with the program.

Will Collins, Dylan Putman, Justin Laughren – all have provided key moments at first. Derry and shortstop Shaddon Peavyhouse have kept the traditionally-strong middle infield rolling while Gabe Thomas has provided consistency at third base. Hunter Higgins also took over catching duties in his freshman campaign and has been another steady piece to the recent success puzzle put together by Gillis and Co.

Dylan Putman has seen duties at first base and came in as the Blue Devils' No. 2 on the bump

Dylan Putman has seen duties at first base and came in as the Blue Devils’ No. 2 on the bump

You toss in sophomore Nick Fender, the freshmen group of Owen Nicholson, Caleb Wilson and Troy Podvin, along with a productive bullpen – the Blue Devils and Grizzlies contest expects to bring the same excitement as years prior.

Grainger enters the contest after finishing first in the Blue Ridge Athletic Conference. The Grizzlies lost in the District 2-AA championship in a DH with Greeneville.

The winner of the contest will advance to Wednesday’s game against the winner of Greeneville and Sullivan South. A loss in the semifinals ends the year for any team.

Taylor Smith and her Lady Blue Devils racked up their 40th, 41st and 42nd victories in this week's District 1-AA tournament. (Erwin Record | Photo By Curtis Carden)

Taylor Smith and her Lady Blue Devils racked up their 40th, 41st and 42nd victories in this week’s District 1-AA tournament.
(Erwin Record | Photo By Curtis Carden)

REGION 1-AA Softball

Unicoi County vs Grainger – (Monday, May 11) 5 p.m. at Lady Devil Diamond

Unicoi County and Grainger must like each other in the regional semifinals?

The Lady Blue Devils and Lady Grizzlies are in the same boat as the guy counterparts, with the ladies seeing each other during last year’s regional tournament. UCHS took that contest 17-2.

Racking up the accomplishments of UCHS (42-3) this season could take up a two-page section of a newspaper, so for the sake of not keeping this going all-day, we’re going with the old-fashion bullet points.

  • Seventh in the nation with team home runs (53); Second in Tennessee, behind … the 2013 UCHS team
  • Wednesday’s district championship was the team’s 20th in the past 21 years and fifth consecutive title
  • Completed the quadruple crown of regular season tournaments with championships in the East Tennessee Classic, Eastman Invitational, NFS Classic and Tiny Day Red Edmonds Classic
  • 40-plus wins; a first since 2012

Grainger will be in upset mode come Monday, after holding off elimination in an upset against No. 2 Chuckey-Doak down in the District 2-AA tournament.

A win Monday could set the stage for Round 3 of Unicoi County/Greeneville in the Region 1-AA championship. The Lady Green Devils host Happy Valley Monday.

Lady Blue Devil Daniela Martinez is one of a handful of UCHS athletes set to compete in the TSSAA Sectional meet at CAK (Erwin Record | Photo By Curtis Carden)

Lady Blue Devil Daniela Martinez is one of a handful of UCHS athletes set to compete in the TSSAA Sectional meet at CAK
(Erwin Record | Photo By Curtis Carden)

Talk about a first year splash.

First year head coach Megan Davis and the UCHS track and field teams have seen success the entire season and will look to keep things rolling on Thursday, May 14, in the TSSAA Sectional meet at CAK.

Top finishers in the event will qualify for the Spring Fling in Murfreesboro.

UCHS is led by sophomore Lady Blue Devil Stephanie Wisse who hauled in two first place finishes in this week’s sub-sectional meet in Greeneville in the 100- and 200-meter runs. Senior CJ Wells also made a return after a calf injury to finish third in the 110 hurdles.

Other athletes qualifying for Thursday include: Megan Todd and the Lady Blue Devil 4×400, 4×800 relay teams

Cameron Higgins and Laura Rogers also earned at-large bids for the event.


High school football fans saw their Blue Devils in action on Friday scrimmage at Blountville Middle School against Sullivan Central. Eli Gillis scored a pair of touchdowns in his return from injury. UCHS ends the spring season with a spring scrimmage against Cloudland on May 14 at 6 p.m.

The Blue Devils enter into 2015 with coaching stability with head coach Glenn White at the helm. White served the remainder of last season after Robert McElwee exited the program.

A busy week awaits, but you can stay in the loop by following The Erwin Record Sports Department online.



Be sure to check out the 5/13 issue of The Erwin Record for a full recap of events, including full summaries of Monday’s busy stretch of diamond dandies.

Curtis Carden is a Tennessee Press Association award-winning journalist and photographer with The Erwin Record. For questions or information, email 

Merry Christmas, In Overtime

December 25, 2014 by

You can go ahead and log off the NORAD Santa Tracker now.

But seriously, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Hope everyone has had and is still having a great time with their family and loved ones. It has been a few days since the athletic scene has been moving and shaking with teams taking time off for the holiday season.

Blue Devil senior Austin Hendrickson and his teammates are off to Knoxville this weekend. (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell)

Blue Devil senior Austin Hendrickson and his teammates are off to Knoxville this weekend. (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell)

But we get back into the thick of things tomorrow, especially for Unicoi County High School. John English’s Blue Devils are making the trip to Knoxville while Kerri King’s Lady Blue Devils will head right down the road to Washington County.

The Lady Blue Devils are near Erwin for the post-Christmas festivities at Daniel Boone High School (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell)

The Lady Blue Devils are near Erwin for the post-Christmas festivities at Daniel Boone High School (Erwin Record Photo By Adam Campbell)

Featured below are the schedules for the tournaments UCHS will compete in this weekend into early next week. Full coverage of each of the tournaments will be featured in the Dec. 31 edition of The Erwin Record but be on the lookout online for live updates, photos and other fun items.

Tournament dates for Unicoi County High School basketball teams


Blue Devils – BSN/Nike “Super 16”  at Beaden High School


Friday, December 26th, 2014

Unicoi County vs Bearden 4 p.m.

Loudon County vs South-Doyle 5:30 p.m.

CAK vs York Institute 7 p.m.

Gibbs vs Hunters Lane 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

Unico County/Bearden Loser vs Loudon/South-Doyle Loser 4 p.m.

CAK/York Institute Loser vs Gibbs/Hunters Lane Loser 5:30 p.m.

Unicoi County/Bearden Winner vs Loudon/South-Doyle Winner 7 p.m.

CAK/York Institute Winner vs Gibbs/Hunters Lane Winner 8:30 p.m.

Monday, December 29th, 2014

7th Place Game – 4 p.m.

5th Place Game – 5:30p.m.

3rd Place Game – 7 p.m.

Championship – 8 p.m.


Lady Blue Devils – Johnson City Honda Classic at Daniel Boone High School

Friday, December 26th

Dobyns-Bennett vs Unaka – 4:30 p.m.

Unicoi County vs Volunteer – 6 p.m.

Daniel Boone vs Johnson County 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 27th

Dobyns-Bennett/Unaka Loser vs Unicoi County/Volunteer Loser – 1:30 p.m.

Cherokee vs Cloudland – 3 p.m.

Morristown East vs Dobyns-Bennett/Unaka Winner – 4:30 p.m.

Sequoyah vs Unicoi County/Volunteer Winner – 6 p.m.

Hampton vs Daniel Boone/Johnson County winner – 7:30 p.m.

Monday, December 29th

Loser of Game 5 vs Loser of Game 8 – 1:30 p.m.

Loser of Game 6 vs Winner of Game 4 – 3 p.m.

Loser of Game 3 vs Loser of Game 7 – 4:30 p.m.

Winner of Game 5 vs Winner of Game 6 – 6 p.m.

Winner of Game 7 vs Winner of Game 8 – 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, December 30th

Winner of Game 9 vs Loser of Game 4 – 1:30 p.m.

Loser of Game 10 vs Loser of Game 11 – 3 p.m.

Winner of Game 10 vs Winner of Game 11 – 4:30 p.m.

Loser of Game 12 vs Loser of Game 13 – 6 p.m.

(Championship) – Winner of Game 12 vs Winner of Game 13 – 7:30 p.m.

(Unicoi County High School will also compete in the girls’ junior varsity tournament held in the auxiliary gym at Daniel Boone HS – beside the main gym. They will play the same days as the varsity)

Local MMA fighter takes limelight early in 2015

Hampton, Tenn., native Adam Townsend will end 2014 with 11 professional wins on the mixed-martial arts circuit but will be back in action on Jan. 10 in a highly-touted main event bout against Craig Johnson (7-3) at Apex Fights 4 on Jan. 10 at Sullivan Central High School. Townsend trains at Evolution Sports Gym and his coaches are Caleb Cupp and Erwin native Dustin Walden.

Hampton native, Adam Townsend, (pictured right), will highlight Apex Fights in January in the main event.

Hampton native, Adam Townsend, (pictured right), will highlight Apex Fights in January in the main event

Spreading the love to CCS

No changes at all will happen with The Erwin Record Sports in the coming year but if you’re interested in Carter County athletic news, be sure to check out

I tossed my hat into the ring with former Milligan Sports Information Director, Matt Laws, to help spearhead a project. Updated schedules, news, articles, audio and the works. And, much like other start up sites, Laws has it made up to not be a ‘competitor’ but just another outlet for kids to look back at their memories from their athletic careers.

(Sidebar – if outlets feel the need to ‘compete’ when covering high school athletics, I hope you received a massive amount of coal and other ‘goodies’ – let your product speak for itself, don’t speak for it.)

– Rant Over –

But the proof is in the pudding. CCS is still a baby, but with businesses starting to look into sponsoring the site – it is gaining traction rather quickly, faster than expected – to be quite honestly. No by-lines are used. It’s all for the athletes.

But no complaints here. When you get your feel of Unicoi County news, be sure to visit the site for news from the county next door.

Time still left for The Erwin Record Sports’ “Top 10 of 2014”

Make them quick! We’ve got time left to orchestrate The Erwin Record’s “Top 10 of 2014” sports moments and I want to hear from you all. Any sporting event, whether it was from the high school, middle school to adult league or YMCA, any moment you feel should make the list, could, but you have to send to me first! Email me at to see if your moment makes it on the list. The list will be in the Dec. 31 issue of The Erwin Record.

Social Media Plug Alert

Looking for up to date coverage on local athletics?

Follow Me on Twitter: @CurtisCarden_ER 

Follow The Erwin Record on Twitter: @erwinrecord

Follow Carter County Sports on Twitter: @CarterCoSports

(You can also “Like” The Erwin Record Sports and Carter County Sports pages by visiting Facebook)

Curtis is an award-winning sportswriter in northeast Tennessee. He has served with the sports department of The Erwin Record for the past four years and is a contributing columnist/reporter for outlets across the state. 

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.


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?


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 and your moment could appear in the final issue of The Erwin Record for this year.


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.


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


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


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


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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


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:

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.

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




(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.


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)


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