When football fans pour into the Union County Stadium on Friday night they can expect to be electrified. After all, Gaffney is coming to town and the Jackets are hungry to upset another 4-A powerhouse.
Union County Head Coach, Steve Taneyhill pulled out all the stops in Friday’s 41-33 win over Spartanburg including going for it on fourth and one from his own 20-yard line.
He has no intention of letting up now.
When asked if he’d be as gutsy a play-caller in the coming games as he was last Friday, Taneyhill responded, “Oh, yeah. We’re not a number one team in the country — we’re playing to win. We’re going to take chances and do all the little things to win ball games.”
Union County showed heart last week and Taneyhill applauded the effort.
“Being down at the half and really having to fight — it wasn’t easy — and we still came out on top. It’s never over till it’s over, you gotta just keep fighting and those are the things that I’m seeing. The kids are learning and I think they’re really feeding off of the coaches.”
Last year, the Indians routed the Jackets 62-10 and went on to become 4A Division 1 State runner-up.
The 2012 Indians are young at the skills positions but junior quarterback Luke Lancaster is quickly settling in and junior receiver Shaq Davidson provides him with a consistent target.
Junior running back Hyleck Foster rushed for 138 yards in last week’s 41-7 win over Clinton while Lancaster passed for 255 yards and a touchdown.
Union County defensive end Jamarcus Henderson will play a big part of the defensive attack. Henderson made his presence known in Spartanburg last week, contributing 12 tackles and scoring on a recovered fumble.
Jared Fowler also made an impact from the middle linebacker position with eight tackles while Devonte Woods contributed 2.5 quarterback sacks.
However, Taneyhill was not satisfied with the collective unit.
“We need to tackle better,” he said. “I think that’s pretty evident and it always is after the first game. You don’t get enough live action and then that first game comes.”
The second issue the Jackets addressed this week was special teams.
“We’ve changed people and made it more of a focus this week,” said Taneyhill. “Special teams is a vital part of the game and it cost us with that kickoff return in the fourth quarter so those two things have been our focus this week. Those were the things that really concerned me after the first game.”
Union County’s play makers showed up in abundance last week with senior quarterback Keiston Smith throwing for 350 yards with three touchdown passes. Also a threat to tuck and run, Smith picked up 54 yards from the ground and scored on a quarterback keep.
Senior wide-receiver Victor Ruth pulled down three catches for 92 yards and accounted for two of Union County’s touchdowns.
Gaffney features some heavy-hitters including highly recruited defensive lineman Jaylen Miller and Friday’s game will likely come down to the guys in the trenches.
“If we’re gonna win this game our offense and defensive lines are gonna have to play well, no question about that,” said Taneyhill. “And that’s the key to pretty much every game but we’re gonna have to have some time in the pocket to throw the ball and we’re gonna have to run the ball. These guys are bigger and stronger so we’re just going to have to play a little harder.”
A fired-up Jackets team being challenged by a fearless coach to play harder could spell trouble for the Indians. This one will be a barn burner.