By Tim Chambers
Johnson County has been a football Mecca statewide for the past two seasons, and part of the reason is the many talented players that left their mark on Longhorns’ football. Jared Kimble is hoping to do the same by leading them to another championship season in 2019 and its fourth straight playoff berth.
The Horns are faced with trying to replace their All-State superstar Nathan Lane who led East Tennessee in scoring and the school’s all-time leading tackler in linebacker Tyler Norris. Also missing is their star receiver and top defensive back Zack Eller.
It’s definitely some big shoes to fill, but Kimble looks to be the one that can wear the giant boots.
“They all were great players so taking over for them is something that I’m definitely going to have to work at,” said Kimble. “We had to do the same the year before when Nathan Arnold, Hayden Osborne, and Shane Greer graduated. We’ve had a lot of success up here, and our senior class hopes to keep it going. We’re confident that we can step up and be a good football team too.”
The senior speedster will take over the tailback position in addition to being penciled in as one of the starting linebackers. Kimble will also double as the placekicker and punter.
Kimble is the jack-of-all-trades according to head coach Don Kerley.
“Jared is probably our best athlete on the team,” said Kerley. “He’s our best running back and probably our best receiver. We’ll be getting him the ball quite a bit this year. He’s somebody we’re going to count on to do a lot for our football team. Much of our success will depend on him and Curtis Lowe.”
Kimble feels like he’s up for the challenge after an up and down roller coaster ride during the past two seasons. He suffered a broken leg seven games into his sophomore year and came back last
year after some extensive rehab.
He knows the expectations are high due to the face that the team is 20-3 over the past two seasons and has been ranked in the top 10 statewide in Class 3-A during that span.
“I really like being the go-to guy, being part of the show,” added Kimble. “I know what our fans expect, and I want us to be another good team they can be proud of. I’m not out here to play for myself or for any individual awards. My goal is to lead our football team to another conference championship and to get past the second round in the state playoffs.”
Kimble is also the key centerpiece when it comes to special teams play. He serves as the team’s placekicker and punter and averaged 40.2 yards per punt in 2018.
“I try and work on my own a lot when it comes to kicking. Coach Kerley does a good job of finding me the time during practice to get in some reps, but I also try and find some extra time to improve that part of my game.”
The road has been a long one for Kimble who didn’t know the extent of his injury back in 2017.
“I was mad at myself because I was going to miss the rest of the season. My doctor assured me that I could come back from it and not miss a beat, so I started working hard at getting back to full speed. Last year I tweaked my ankle and didn’t feel good running, but this year I’m stronger and faster than I’ve ever been. I feel like I can run forever and never stop. That’s the difference in me now.”
Kimble hopes to play at the college level and has the talent and grades to do so.
“That’s something that I would love to do,” added Kimble. “I have a 3.5 GPA overall, and I’m going to retake my ACT in the fall to try and get my score up more. But for now, my focus is on helping our team win football games. Our class has a chance to leave here with three consecutive conference championships and the most wins ever. That means a lot to the rest of our seniors