UNAKA, TN (WJHL) – The Unaka High School football team is facing somewhat of a bitter-sweet problem this season.
The team does not have enough equipment for its players.
This comes after the team forfeited the playoffs last year, due to a one and nine record.
By the end of last season, the team only had eight players left, after a majority of the team turned in their uniforms following a 71 to nothing loss to Midway.
Now, the number of players are up this year. But new head coach O’Brien Bennett said help is needed for them to all be able to play.
“We have the great problem of having more players than we have helmets to put them in. We have currently four kids who are practicing, going through non-contact drills without having any helmets on,” Bennett said.
Currently, there are 40 players on the team. But that number could rise once school starts in Carter County next week.
Bennett said his team has been working hard since April trying to raise money for the equipment they need.
The team has held fundraisers and are asking people to sponsor the amount of community service hours that they do.
“We’ve done things ranging from landscaping public spaces, to building a play area for make a wish foundation to delivering meals with TLC’s food program,” Bennett said.
Those hours are also going toward community service hours for the Tennessee Promise Scholarship.
John Ramsey is a junior, who is back on the team after taking the year off last year.
“I think that the community is seeing the hard work that we’re putting in and that they’ll give back a little bit to us and just help us be able to play this year. Just give a kid’s dream, being able to play under the lights on Friday” Ramsey said.
Senior Taylor Gouge says this is his first year on the team and he’s optimistic for the future.
“In the past few years school spirit has been kind of low. People just say that Unaka sucks and we’re never going to win. So I hope this year kind of builds up the character of the school and helps us realize that we can actually win, that we can actually be what we should be,” Gouge said.
Coach Bennett is hoping the community will give back and help break the attendance record at the team’s first home game on September 1.
“Come out and support these kids. They’ve been through a lot, they’ve had a tough time and we want people and the community and anybody who’s willing to see what we’re doing to come out and see it,” he said.
So far, the team has put in 258 community service hours and raised nearly $2,000.
If you would like to help them raise money for their equipment, you can contact the school at 423.474.4100.
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