Bulldogs celebrate homecoming, Devils night with win

Claiborne High School went back in time on Sept. 13 for another Blue Devils tribute football game. This game was against Unaka, and added to it was the special feel of homecoming night. Predictions were all over the place but most had Claiborne coming out on top despite being short Storm Livesay due to an injury sustained last week.

When the teams began to prepare for the game the temperature was still in the low to mid 90-degree range but first on the schedule was Claiborne naming its Homecoming Queen and Princess. Carlee Seals was named Queen and was escorted by Blaine Caylor. The Princess was Katelyn Barnard and her escort was Christopher Thomas.

When it came down to football the Bulldogs struck first with a Eli Stone to Haydn Hollin touchdown pass covering 26 yards. Stone added the point after, 7-0. The Rangers started on their own 19 but went the distance and responded with a TD at 4:15. The conversion failed, and CHS held a one-point lead at 7-6.

Jimmy Del Ervin added the Bulldogs second TD, but the PAT was blocked, 13-6. After stopping the Rangers’ drive into the second quarter, it was Greg Goins helping set up a Stone rushing TD. The PAT was good, and the Bulldogs led 20-6.

Hollin made a defensive play on the Rangers next drive and his interception and ensuing pass reception to the 38-yard line set up Daniel Eversole and Stone to complete another score. After the PAT, the Bulldogs led 27-6. The defense had coach Medlin concerned early, but they played great on the next drive and gave the CHS offense another set of downs. Ethan Poore scored with 25 seconds left in the half to extend the lead to 33-6 after a missed extra point.

Behind 33-6 coming out of the break, Unaka needed something good to happen, and it did with a long pass play over 65 yards into the end zone. The two point conversion was good, and the Rangers were behind 33-14.

Hollin once again made his presence felt as he returned a kick 45 yards to the 16. Goins found pay dirt and increased the Bulldog lead to 40-14 following another PAT by Stone. The defense stopped the Rangers on their next drive.

Claiborne was driving again with Grant Johnson, Goins and Stone, but they fumbled a great chance away handing the ball back to the Rangers. Hollin had another big play in him and stripped a Ranger player, recovered the fumble and just happened to be in the end zone for another score. With 39 seconds in the third, the Bulldogs led 47-14. By this time, the reserves had come in and were starting to make plays.

Unaka never gave up and punched another one in the end zone and narrowed the score to 47-20. Claiborne countered when Eversole went under center and opened with a rough start before shaking it off and running around 70 yards for the Bulldogs final score making it 54-20. Unaka placed one more score on the board before the game ended making the final score 54-28 in favor of Claiborne.

After the game, coach Medlin talked to his team, “Now remember to enjoy this for only 24 hours because we have a big region game next week.”

When asked about what he liked and disliked about the team’s performance he added, “I liked how hard the kids played and disliked our defensive effort. We were just too light at times, and we have to get our defense ready to play earlier.”

Claiborne also celebrated their sports heroes from the Devil years up to the present and gave a special acknowledgement to the very first Devil’s football team. It was a great night for the Bulldogs and Devils.

The team will load up Friday night and travel to battle a good Unicoi team that defeated Claiborne 42-13 last season.