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Rebels, Golden Raiders look good in Three Rivers Jamboree

George Thwaites • Aug 15, 2014 at 11:26 PM

KINGSPORT — Sullivan South fans didn't get a preseason look at Elizabethton star running back Ethan Thomas in Friday night's Three Rivers Conference football jamboree.

What they did get was a glimpse of every player on the Rebels' roster.

"We're going to have to wash 50 uniforms tonight because they all got a little mud on them," said South coach Sam Haynie.

The Rebels' first-unit offense scored two touchdowns on two possessions before walking away from a 14-14 draw with the Cyclones.

In the nightcap with Unicoi County, the South starting "O" scored on its lone appearance in that 15-minute quarter. The Blue Devils, who prevailed 14-7, were on the verge of a third touchdown when an interception by Cooper Jones ended that late threat.

"I expected this, but I still didn't think it would be quite like that," said Unicoi County coach Robert McElwee, who got a 4-yard scoring run from Cameron Higgins and a short-yardage touchdown strike from quarterback Cody Rogers to Davis Webb.

Both Blue Devils TDs were aided by drive-shortening big plays reeled off by running back Luke Fronckoski, who led the Three Rivers in regular-season rushing yardage last season.

"We've got a couple kids who can run the ball. I told them all we needed to do was turn some heads and make the crowd go, 'Wow.' And I think we did that," McElwee said.

South quarterback Dylan Wieger looked impressive. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound signal-caller shed a couple of would-be Elizabethton tacklers on a 35-yard scramble that set up his eventual 2-yard scoring toss to Evan Headrick.

Headrick made several impressive catches for the Rebels, including an 18-yard reception from Wieger on the first snap against the Cyclones. He had a 29-yard diving catch that helped set up running back Blake Christian's 23-yard touchdown run.

Against Unicoi County, Headrick one-handed a 37-yard catch between defenders that appeared intended for Christian Comsa.

"Evan did a great job tonight. All our guys ran crisp routes all night, sticking their cleats in the ground and getting to their landmarks. That's what it's supposed to look like," Wieger said.

Ahmad Lovell gave the Rebels a 10-yard scoring scramble against the Blue Devils.

"Offensively against Elizabethton, we executed the run and pass game. We made some throws and catches," Haynie said. "Defensively, our kids got to the ball against Elizabethton. They're also a really, really good offensive team. I thought that was a good battle both ways."

Thomas, Elizabethton's star running back who had arthroscopic surgery on his MCL during the preseason, was held out of the jamboree. The Cyclones demonstrated they aren't utterly helpless without him.

Caleb Jones got loose for a 42-yard scoring run and Alonzo Madison locked it up late with a 7-yard TD plunge.

"Where (Thomas) hasn't been with us, we've tried to bring some other guys along. There's no doubt we've got to have him in order to achieve what we want to achieve," said Elizabethton coach Shawn Witten.

Sullivan North crept in and out of the jamboree like a ninja and got a 7-7 draw with Happy Valley in the opener.

The Golden Raiders scored on their opening series with a 3-yard run from Michael Gilliam. Big rushing plays from Gilliam, Nick Maupin and quarterback Logan Williams revealed that North's offense didn't grind to a halt when running back Jacob Jaspers left for Tennessee High.

Zack Byrnes' 46-yard pass to Christian Arnold showed that the Golden Raiders have some sky to go with the dirt game.

North coach Robbie Norris said he was pleased with his team's overall effort on both sides of the football.

The Warriors pounded on the Raiders with massive fullback Dustin Sams and eventually evaded them with scooter Jose Burgos, who tied the scrimmage with his 4-yard TD run.

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