UNION COUNTY — With the loss to Boiling Springs on Friday night the UCHS Yellow Jackets fell to 0-6 on the season, as they head into region play this Friday night against the Eastside Eagles. Boiling Springs jumped out to an early 24-0 lead in the first half before the Jackets battled back and were able to capitalize on a couple Bulldog mistakes to get back in the game for a final score of 38-23 and win for the Bulldogs.
The Jackets were competitive Friday night in the second half against Boiling Springs. Hopefully this is a sign of the Jackets turning the corner. Last year Union County struggled in the first six games minus the game against Chapman, which they won. Last year during the Boiling Springs game the Jackets seemed to find something that worked, and despite losing to the Bulldogs the Jackets got a lot better and rattled off five consecutive wins, claiming the region title and advancing to the second round of the class 4A playoffs.
Could we see a repeat of that this year? Yellow Jacket head football coach Bradley Adams has said all year that he believes once the Jackets get to region play they should much more competitive. That raises the question, “Why does Union County continue to play schools that are more than twice their size?” The answer to that question is simple. It’s about money.
Playing teams like Gaffney, Spartanburg, and Boiling Springs brings in a lot of money for the athletic department. These teams have large fan bases that travel well, and spend money to get in the game and then on concessions once they are in the game. It makes sense on one hand, but when your team isn’t competitive in these games, why play them? Other than raising revenue does it benefit the kids to play these games? Could these kids not benefit from playing games in which they are more competitive? In years gone by when the population of Union was more than it is now Union could compete with these teams. Now with people moving out of Union and the population declining while these other communities continue to grow we are at a disadvantage.
Union County moving to 3A next year is the best thing that could happen to the sports programs at UCHS. They will now compete with teams more their size. Now it is time to change the non-region schedule to better matchup with what the Jackets want to do. We should be using these games to build confidence and learn the offense and defense, and get better. We should be scheduling one 5A team (probably Gaffney) and the other games should be reserved for teams that play similar offenses and defenses of the teams we play in region play.
Former Jacket Coach Steve Taneyhill attempted to change the schedule a couple of years ago to make it a little friendlier on the front end, but was told that he could not change it by the athletic director at the time.
This coming season will be the perfect opportunity to change the schedule, with the region schedule changing as well. As far as I can tell the team has been able to stay positive despite their rough start. This could have easily gone the other way damaging this team’s confidence going forward. Hopefully things will change for next year, and I think that they will. Coach Adams should be commended for keeping this team focused and positive.
The Eastside Eagles will be Union County’s first region opponent this year. The Eagles are off to an 5-0 start under first year head coach Dan Morgan. The Eagles are an improved team. They have scored forty-one points or more in each of their first five games. Defensively the Eagles have shut out their last three opponents and have not allowed more than fourteen points all season. The Eagles are not like Eastside teams of the past that you scheduled for homecoming games, they are much better. They are no longer a team that should be taken lightly.
Union County will be dealing with some injuries this week. Starting quarterback Kesean Glover will still be out, and now backup quarterback Will Horlacher is questionable in concussion protocol. Coach Adams said that the team has been preparing a lot of different looks to move the ball with a third string quarterback.
The Jackets bye week comes next week, and will give the Jackets a chance to get healthy before getting to the rest of the region schedule.
For more about Yellow Jacket football and other local sports action see upcoming editions of The Union Times and online at our website (www.uniondailytimes.com) and our Facebook page. Also, Yellow Jacket games and other Union County sports activities can be caught on WBCU 1460AM and 103.5FM, online at WBCURadio.com, and on the WBCU mobile app.
Tyler Shugart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.