Campbell County Cougars

Rumor has it that cougars have been spotted in Campbell County. The return of the only big cat in North America to Tennessee may be pure speculation at this point. Many fans of Campbell County must wonder if their Cougars will ever reappear on the football field. Campbell County has never qualified for the postseason in football.

The Cougars finished a paltry 1-9 last season and 1-9 the season before that and…well you get the picture. Charged with the task of bringing these Cats back to respectability is Head Coach Dewayne Wells. He is excited about the year ahead and with good reason. "This team had a good spring practice," said Coach Wells. "Our team speed is much improved, the strength program is starting to show on the field but we must avoid injuries because we have no depth on either side of the ball. The early part of the season is going to be a big key if we are to win some games."

There is talent on this team. It is the mental part of the game that must improve the most. Campbell County must learn how to win and believe that they can get the job done against formidable competition on Friday nights.

Offensively, Campbell County must improve on their 8.5 points scored per game last season. The Cougars were able to move the football but simply could not put the ball in the endzone. Coach Wells does have playmakers at his disposal and the offensive scheme to capitalize on those talents.

The quarterback will be senior triggerman Chris Smith (5'10" 170). Smith has a strong arm and knows how to work the Cougars' multiple spread formations. Smith completed 70 of 133 passes for 869 yards but only four touchdowns in 2002. He was voted honorable mention All-Region for his efforts.

Campbell County also has capable running backs. Sophomore Chris Johnson (5'10" 170) burst on the scene a year ago with 701 yards rushing. Another honorable mention All-Region performer, Johnson also caught 14 passes for another 88 yards and totaled 3 touchdowns. The other halfback will be junior Justin Bolton (5'10 180) who caught 7 aerials for 46 yards and carried 44 times for 191 yards.

When the Cougars go to the air there will be experienced receivers awaiting Smith's darts. Senior Matt Stout (5'10" 170) made 18 receptions for 172 yards while fellow senior Drew Russell (5'7" 145) made 14 catches for 216 yards and was also honorable mention All Region. The tight end will play a key role in the air attack. Senior Kevin Bostic (6'2" 190) nabbed 4 balls for 66 yards giving Campbell County a potentially deadly air assault.

The offensive line must improve to make it all go according to Coach Wells. Seniors Josh Massengal (6'1" 200), Kent Blackwell (5'11" 295) and Chris Munsey (5'10" 250) along with juniors Toby Young (6'1" 245) and Josh Evans (6'2" 250) have the size to get it done.

Seven starters return as the Cougars align in a split 4 defensive front. Campbell County gave up way too much in 2002. The opposition averaged 30 points per game and over 300 yards of total offense versus the Cougars declawed "D" a year ago. "We have experience and speed to match up in our region," said Coach Wells. "Our defense is not very big but we do have quickness."

Coach Wells hopes the painful experience will prove benefitial and lead to vast improvement for this season's unit. All four defensive linemen are former linebackers. They are smallish but extremely quick. Tackle Zac Byrge (5'11" 220) had 62 tackles including two QB sacks and five tackles for losses last year. Fellow senior Chris Drummond (5'7" 195) jumped in on 50 stops, two for loss and also snared an interception. Help is needed from junior ends Mitchell Tipton (6'1" 200), Clark Woods (5'11" 200) and tackle Bryan Gibson (5'10" 200).

Better play at linebacker is a must for this year's Cougars. Seniors Derek Bowlin (5'11" 180) and Chris Honeycutt (5'7" 160) return looking for prey. Bowlin ripped into 65 ball carriers while Honeycutt added 36 more and also had five passes defended. Junior Brian Sloven (6'0" 180) is ready to step into a starting role at linebacker.

The secondary should be solid as Johnson roams the field at free safety. This up and coming star made 86 tackles, four for loss, recovered four fumbles, broke up a couple of passes and grabbed an interception in an eye opening freshman season. Russell will man one of the cornerback spots as he had 67 hits and an interception a year ago. Senior Josh Lester (5'10" 160) should be the other CB. Lester made 41 tackles, broke up 9 passes and snared an interception.

The Campbell County Cougars are starving. Hungry for wins on the football field! There is talent on this team. The offense has big play capability but must learn how to score when inside the opposition's territory. The Cougars' claws must be sharpened on defense and the team as a whole needs to develop a mental toughness necessary to compete in the State's largest classification. It certainly won't be easy but there is no reason why the 2003 team should not be more competitive and show East Tennessee that Cougar's have indeed returned to the ridges of Campbell County.

Pigskin Preview Prediction: 4-6

Playoff Contender: No

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