Union Local seeks 2-0 start at Buckeye Local on Friday

YORKVILLE – Two teams that started the 2013 high school football season in strikingly different fashion will clash on Friday night at World War II Memorial Stadium.

Union Local and Buckeye Local will kick off their Buckeye 8 opener at 7 p.m.

The Jets will look to surpass their win total from last season after going over to Woodsfield last week and topping Monroe Central, 14-13.

It was a memorable debut for Union Local head coach Bruce Stiles, in his his first season guiding his alma mater.

But, according to the long-time St. Clairsville assistant, it was just one victory.

Now, it’s time to go out and do it all over aain.

“The biggest improvement you make is between games one and two,” he said. “There are a lot of areas we’re going to go back and improve on.”

Such as?

“We need to be more consistent with the running game and the passing game has to be a little better,” he said.

Overall, though, Stiles took away many positives, including the play of quarternack Travis James, who guided the Jets’ up-tempo offense.

“I think he did a great job,” he said. “Then, in the backfield, (Eric) Dunfee had a good night.”

Indeed. He finished with 151 yards.

Still, Stiles took tremendous pride in being able to take a team that struggled last season and go into a place with so much much tradition and come out with a victory.

“I’m really excited for the kids,” he said. “They put in a lot of hard work and I’m happy they’re buying the stuff we’re selling.

“Defensively, I was very happy. Anytime you can hold Monroe Central to 13 points is great. They are always a very well-coached team.

“Monroe Central is a top-notch program and just going in there and getting a win is a nice start.”

Coach Phil Pest’s Panthers didn’t get such a start Saturday night when Westinghouse came to town. The Bulldogs started strong early, jumping out to a 26-0 halftime lead and never looked back en route to a 40-0 triumph.

Stiles was at the game and believes Pest’s squad will pose a challenge.

“They have some nice skill players and well have to be ready to play,” he said.

“Westinghouse was an unbelievablly physical team, so Buckeye has nothing to hold its head about.”

Pest agreed that physicality was one of the differences.

“And we didn’t perform fundamentally, too,” he said. “Hopefully, our kids can bounce back and rise to the occassion this week.”

Pest offered his team simply gave Westinghouse too many opportunities in the early going and that put the game away.

“We missed a lot of tackles. The tackling was terrible a few times,” he said. “We just need to perform the fundamentals better.”

There were some bright spots, including the play of quarterback Tyler Miller.

“I’m very proud of him,” Pest said. “He came in and threw the ball well and made some good decisions and kept the offense in control. I’m very happy with his performance.”

In UL, Pest sees a team that is quick.

“They were relentless,” he said after watching their game Friday night. “They just wore (Monroe Central) down. I thought they did a great job.”

Thorp can be reached at rthorp@timesleaderonline.com