Union County heads into a week five non-region bout with Newberry on Friday night looking to keep its 3-0 road game winning streak intact.
The Jackets will face a Bulldogs team that lives by the ground game and features 190-pound running back Tyon Williams who averages over 200 yards per game. Williams collects a significant amount of yardage by following 278-pound fullback Eric Gallman who doubles as a dominant defensive lineman.
“They’re more of a power run team than a spread run team,” said Union County Coach Steve Taneyhill. “They will get in the shotgun some and try to spread you out, but mostly they’re gonna be in the I, under center.”
Taneyhill added that Williams will do most of the work offensively but that sophomore quarterback Khlalil Sheppard is also a threat to tuck and run.
“He doesn’t throw a lot of passes, but he can run,” said Taneyhill. “And that’s what’s got us a few times, the quarterback pulling the ball and running. Our problem has been that we’ve got 11 guys trying to make the tackle instead of doing their job, but we’re working — it’s a work in progress — a lot of those guys on defense haven’t played much football so they’re learning on the fly.”
The Jackets honed in on another offensive weapon last week against Fairfield Central. A ground game that had been soley dependent on quarterback Keiston Smith saw Trayvond Davis step out of the shadows.
Davis, who’d been relatively quiet over the past few weeks, tallied 195 rushing yards with two catches for 35 yards and two Union County touchdowns.
“Tray had a good game and we were hoping it was coming at some point in time,” laughed Taneyhill. “I thought Adrian (Brown) ran the ball well, he just didn’t get as many touches — Tray kind of got hot — but I’d thought all year that our tailbacks were good, we just had to get them on track.”
The presence of a running game adds another dimension to Union County’s high-powered offense, making it difficult even for a stout Newberry defense to contain.
This is the last tune up for both teams before entering region action and fans can expect to see a battle.
“We want to win every week,” said Taneyhill. “We still haven’t put a game together where the offense, defense and the special teams all played well the same night, so no one knows how good we can be if we put them all together. Newberry is kind of a smash-mouth, run it right at you team, and we’re gonna do whatever it takes…It ought to be a good one.”