Union Local, Barnesville vie for the ‘Milk Bucket’

The Union Local Jets are flying high as they make their return home after a two-game road trip to start the season.

After winning just one game last fall, first-year head coach Bruce Stiles has his alma mater at 2-0 with Barnesville coming into town this week to play for the Milk Jug.

“It’ll be awful nice to go back and have a game at home,” Stiles said.

The road has been pretty good to the Jets, though. Last week at Buckeye Local, UL posted an impressive 45-6 Buckeye 8 triumph, taking care of business early.

“Buckeye is a tough place to play,” said Stiles. “We went to work and did what we could do. I was really proud of the kids, especially being away from home and playing like that.”

Stiles was also able to give some of his younger kids a taste of varsity action.

“I thought we were a lot more effective running the ball,” Stiles said of last week’s victory. “And I thought our offensive line made some nice strides. We didn’t have as many mental breakdowns and we did a better job of ball control.”

The Jets amassed 226 yards on the ground, paced by Eric Dunfee’s 79. Jake Leishman added 56 yards.

“Tater Blake, our fullback, also had a great game,” Stiles said. “And our line play was solid.”

That unit consists of Jacob Johnson (center), Colton Bernheimer (right guard), Colton McKivitz (right tackle), Matt McFarland (left guard) and Patrick Abboud (left tackle).

“And Travis James, our quarterback, did a tremendous job of just controlling the game and controlling the tempo,” Stiles said. “He’s done a great job.”

Barnesville head coach Matt Johnson is impressed with that “basic concept.”

“It looks like their line is coming off the ball really well and it doesn’t look like they’re doing anything really fancy,” he said. “And, defensively, they’re really aggressive and Bruce gives them a good style to play.

“I think if we can slow them down we can give ourselves an opportunity to be in the game. We just need to take care of what we need to do and just worry about ourselves.”

While the Rocks come in 0-2, Stiles is concerned about many facets of their roster.

“They have a lot speed,” he said. “That’s one of the things that jumped out at us.

Barnesville is coming off a disappointing 35-6 loss at Meadowbrook, one in which the Colts piled up 423 yards of total offense.

More than the loss, the Shamrocks were banged up.

“David Brown is in a walking boot, Bub Hannahs isn’t healthy and we’re just got in good health,” Johnson said. “But, I doubt Coach Stiles is going to cancel the game. We’re going to have to get the next guy up and get healthy.”

There are other issues, too.

“We’re just not tackling well,” Johnson noted. “Overall, there’s not a phase we can’t improve on. And we need to do so rather quickly.”