Junior Bears vs. MC

The Junior Bears’ offense lines up to run a play during TPJHS’ game against McMinn Central on Thursday, Aug. 8.

More than anything, the Tellico Plains Junior Bears’ first ever football game was about learning.

That’s what head coach Lynn Rowe wants his team to take away from its 50-16 home loss to McMinn Central on Thursday, Aug. 8.

“We had 19 dressed out and out of that 19, 12 of them had never played,” Rowe said. “And of those other ones, six of those hadn’t played in a couple years. So we’re relearning the game, literally from scratch.

“To be able to just score a touchdown and hold those guys a few times, I think that was an accomplishment.”

A bad snap on the Junior Bears’ opening possession led to a safety for McMinn Central, which followed that up by returning the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. The Chargers went on to score three more touchdowns, converting one of three two-point attempts, to go up 30-0 by halftime.

“Those coaches and those players from Central have been together for years,” Rowe said. “We didn’t even have a place to dress the first day of practice. We were trying to figure out where we were going to dress our kids. Literally, we started with six rubber footballs and six trash cans and let’s start a football team.”

The Chargers notched another return touchdown on the second half-opening kickoff and failed to convert the two-point try, taking a 36-0 advantage.

But Tellico’s offense did improve as the game went along, with Nick Johnson breaking away for a 51-yard touchdown run during the third quarter. He also carried the ball to convert on the Junior Bears’ two-point attempt.

The Chargers scored again on a long touchdown run, but again failed to make good on the two-point conversion.

Ethan Harris capped off a long Tellico drive with a six-yard rushing touchdown late in the game, and then converted the two-point try himself, putting the score at 42-16. McMinn Central went on to score once more before the clock hit zero.

One positive for the Junior Bears was the play of Jacob Davidson. He totaled six tackles defensively, plus a few instances when he stopped the offense by knocking a ball carrier out of bounds. That’s something Tellico can build off of.

“Everybody wants to win,” Rowe said. “The thing, and I think (Davidson) pointed out, (is) hating to lose. You’ve got to hate to lose probably more than you want to win. Everybody wants to win. It’s that, ‘Ooohh, I hate that feeling about losing.’ But there’s a way to handle it and I think our kids handled it. You turn it into extra effort, and (Davidson did today).

“He put that extra effort out there and he just hated to lose. He’s going to bust his tail and do everything he can in his power to make it happen.”

Johnson led the Junior Bears with 89 rushing yards and one touchdown on 11 carries. No Tellico player attempted a pass.

Tellico will have an open week before hosting Meigs County on Thursday, Aug. 22 at 6:30 p.m.

“We’ve just got to keep working on the fundamentals,” Rowe said, ‘working on game situations, keeping our heads in the game and knowing, if we’re on offense, to get out on the ball. Just the logistics of the game. Just learning the game.

“We’re dealing with kids that have not had a whole lot of exposure to the game. It’s completely raw. And when they walk out there in front of a crowd, they’re nervous and they’ve never played, don’t know what to do, scared to death, don’t want to mess up, don’t want to make coach upset, don’t want to make mom and daddy upset. It’s a process. We’ve just got to stay consistent and just keep them focused on the job. That’s it.”

Despite the lopsided opening game loss, Rowe doesn’t expect to adjust his offensive or defensive schemes, either.

“We’re not going to change,” Rowe said. “We’re not going to do a whole lot of shuffling. With 19 (players), you ain’t going to do a whole lot of shuffling. We’re going to stay with our fundamentals. I think the kids saw where, if we keep our heads, what we do works.

“We were our own worst enemy offensively. Defensively, we missed a bunch of tackles, and that’s just having never tackled before and we work on it everyday, but that’s just part of that learning the game, learning how to attack, learning how to put them on the ground. And we’ve just got to keep working and building.”

TPJHS stat leaders

Rushing

Nick Johnson- 11 carries, 89 yards, TD

Ethan Harris- 11 carries, 63 yards, TD

Defense

Jacob Davidson- 6 tackles

Ethan Harris- 2 tackles

Peyton Dodson- 2 tackles

{span id=”docs-internal-guid-0ac00645-7fff-868a-49f2-eadb5633537f”}{span}Austin Williams- 2 tackles{/span}{/span}

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