Union Local soaring at 2-0
YORKVILLE – The Jets are soaring in rarefied airspace.
Union Local made it two straight wins in the Bruce Stiles’ era via an impressive 45-6 defeat of Buckeye Local Friday night at World War II Memorial Stadium. The Jets executed superbly in all phases in proving too much for the youthful Panthers.
“Very nice,” Stiles responded after being asked how it feels on being 2-0. “I was real happy with how the kids came out and played from the outset.
Union Local did get out of the gates quickly, scoring on its first two possessions of the night, setting the tone for the contest. The Jets’ no-huddle offense yielded 349 total yards.
“We are firing off the ball really aggressively. It is sparking our running game,” Stiles said. “Defensively, we did a solid job of controlling the line of scrimmage and swarming to the ball. Coach (Mike) Menges does a great job with the defense.”
The Jets displayed nice offensive balance. The Morristown-based squad amassed 226 yards on the ground and added 123 yards through the airwaves, including two long TD passes.
The ground game was keyed by the effective blocking of the offensive line which featured Colton McKivitz, Jacob Johnson, Colton Burnheimer, Matt McFarland and Patrick Abboud.
Union Local took the game’s opening kickoff and drove 57 yards to paydirt on six plays. Savvy senior quarterback Travis James teamed with Spencer Ware on a 41-yard scoring connection. Eric Dunfee’s PAT made it 7-0 at the 9:25 lighting.
On the ensuing Buckeye Local series, UL’s Bobby Stewart pilfered a Panther pass and returned it for an apparent TD. A clipping call, however, nullified the score, but the invaders were still in business at the hosts’ 22.
Five snaps later, James was scooting in from three yards out. A bad snap foiled the PAT attempt, leaving the Jets on top, 13-0, with 6:12 left in the opening quarter.
Early in the third quarter, Union Local earned a safety when the Buckeye Local punter took the snap on his knee in his own end zone.
The Jets set up shop at the Buckeye Local 41 after the free kick. Two Dunfee carries followed by three successive Leishman totes, the final covering four yards, had the Jets reaching paydirt again. The extra point went awry, keeping the count at 21-0.
Union Local added a fourth touchdown with 2:33 remaining in the half on the strength of a 53-yard bubble screen from James to Ware. Dunfee made it a 28-0 halftime reading.
Tater Blake and Leishman tacked on third-quarter touchdown runs for Union Local, making it a 42-0 count heading into the fourth. The Jets capped off their scoring with 11:18 showing, courtesy of a 29-yard Stewart field goal.
Buckeye Local, coming off an opening 40-0 setback to Pittsburgh Westinghouse, took the ensuing kickoff and embarked on its most impressive drive of the season. The Panthers marched 74 yards on 16 plays, all coming on the ground save for the final one, as frosh QB Jared Moore found senior Chase Hopkins for a 13-yard TD connection with 3:32 remaining. The conversion pass misfired.
Stiles utilized eight ballcarriers on the night. Dunfee led the way with 79 yards on 11 carries while Leishman banged for 56 stripes on nine totes.
Damion Beall was a bright spot for Coach Phil Pest’s pups. The junior fullback collected 102 yards 17 carries.
“We are playing so many young kids right now it is tough to compete. When you are playing as many freshmen as we are you are going to take some lumps,” Pest said. “We need our seniors to provide us with more leadership.
“Coach Stiles has done a great job with his team,” added the former Wheeling Central and Bethany College standout tight end. “They are much improved and they played extremely well tonight.”
Buckeye Local will try and break into the victory column Friday as it travels to John Marshall. Union Local, meanwhile, is primed to make its home opener the same night against Barnesville.
“It will be nice to play at home. Barnesville is a big rival, so we know they will be ready to play,” Stiles said. “The two wins have been a big boost to our kids’ confidence. They have not experienced much winning the last few years.
“We just need to keep focused and working every day on getting better,” he added. “It’s a great way to start (2-0) but we still have much work to do.”
Blake, Stewart, Abboud, Dunfee and Jacob Fijalkowski all turned in yeoman defensive work for the winners.
The game marked the 12th between the two teams. The series is now tied at 6-6.