UNION COUNTY — It is finally here. The 2018 high school football season had finally arrived. Many of us have waited for months for its return and now we are ripe with anticipation for Week Zero action on Friday night. The Jackets will jump right into action Friday night as they host two-time defending 3A upper state champion Chapman.
A lot has changed for Union County since the end of last football season. In March, Bradley Adams resigned as the head football coach of the Yellow Jackets to take the head football coaching job at Woodruff High School. The Jackets then hired Brian Thompson to be the new head coach in May.
The Jackets are now in class 3A instead of class 4A, a move that was heavily contested by some other schools during the off season. With that move Union County, in my opinion, will face much stiffer competition on the gridiron almost weekly. I for one believe that 3A football is a tougher classification from top to bottom, where 4A is top heavy.
The Jackets will begin the 2018 campaign at home at Union County Stadium against the Chapman Panthers coached by Mark Hodge. The Panthers won the 3A State Title two years ago by upsetting reigning 3A Champ Dillon. Dillon returned the favor this past season knocking off the Panthers in the title game after Chapman star quarterback Colton Bailey went down late in the first half with and injury.
The Panthers lost a lot to graduation this past year including Bailey who ended his career near the top of the state record book for touchdowns, as well as star running back DJ Twitty, and two all state caliber receivers.
The Chapman defense should be good. Any defense coached by Mark Hodge will be good as he’s a fantastic coach, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Panthers starting quarterback saw playing time in the state title game last year and struggled, but with an off season of practice under his belt with that coaching staff I believe he will be much improved. Noah Twitty will play wide out for the Panthers and his name is one you could hear a lot on Friday night. Coach Hodge speaks highly of the progress this offensive unit has made. Will they be last year’s Chapman team? Of course not. Will they be tough? Bet on it.
Coach Hodge expects to have a tough game on his hands when he comes to Union on Friday Night.
“Union County Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the state. The fans are on top of you and loud. I think it is one of the best places to play a high school game in the state, along with the Old Reservation at Gaffney, Greer, and Clinton,” said Hodge.
Coach Hodge also said he expects Union County to be a well coached team with lots of energy and excitement.
“I know they have a lot of great athletes on both sides of the ball. I know they will be fired up to play, and the people of Union will be fired up to see them,” said Hodge.
Union County should be up for the challenge. The Jackets return a ton of starters from last year’s team on both sides of the football, including junior quarterback Kesean Glover. Glover, who dealt with some injuries last year, showed flashes of greatness last season. He is extremely athletic and should be a lot of fun to watch now that he has played a year and has another off season under his belt.
I also look for T.T. Kershaw to have a really big season. Kershaw, a running back, will be big for the Jackets this season according to Thompson because of his running as well as his leadership ability.
It’s hard to believe that another season is finally here. I cannot wait to see what it has in store. Nothing better than being under those Friday night lights at Union County Stadium, except maybe Saturday mornings after the Jackets have found a win.
Live At McDonald’s
Friday morning from 7-9 a.m. I will be hosting my radio show “Bump and Run” live from McDonald’s in Union. I would like to invite you all out to say hello. If you cannot make it out I hope you will give us a listen as we will talk a lot of Union County Football. Former Union Coach Mike Anthony will join us as well as current Yellow Jacket Head Coach Brian Thompson.
The show airs on Fox Sports 1400 AM 98.3 FM or you can listen online at spartanburgsportsradio.com or by downloading the Fox Sports Spartanburg app on your smart phone or tablet. I hope some of you will come out as we spotlight our hometown and out football team!
Picks for other games:
• Byrnes over Greer
• Dorman over Wade Hampton
• Woodruff over Chesnee
• Broome over Central
•Spartanburg over Nation Ford
Tyler Shugart is the host of “Bump and Run” from 7-9 a.m. on Fox Sports 1400 AM 98.3 FM in Spartanburg. He can be reached at [email protected]