Week 8 Preview
Central-Wise (1-5, 1-3) at Union (6-1, 2-1)
Last meeting: Union defeated Central, 45-0.
Series History: Union leads all-time, 6-1.
One of the most ferocious and competitive rivalry on the hardcourt, there is little love lost between Union and Wise-Central. However, on the football field, it has became a lopsided affair. After winning the first game post consolidation, the Warriors have dropped six in a row to the Bears. This season, the Bears host the Warriors on homecoming night, adding extra festivities to an already tense rivalry.
Union seems to be hitting their stride as a team, winning three games in a row after falling to Ridgeview on the road. After notching their first conference win at Gate City, the Bears upset Morristown West, TN on the road before returning to the friendly confines of Bullitt Park to rout Lee. The typically stingy Bear defense has only allowed two teams to score more than 20 points while the offense averages 33 points per game.
On offense, Union relies on experienced senior Bailey Turner at the helm playing quarterback. While Turner has proven capable when needed, the Bear rushing attack is what gives opposing coach’s nightmares. The unit as a whole has put up well over 1,500 rushing yards in seven games. The stand out has been senior Avery Jenkins. The senior tailback has rushed for 884 yards on the season, including a 227 yard performance in week one and 190 yards on a mere nine carries last week. Fullback Mason Polier also has multiple games of over 100 rushing yards. Rounding out the trio is all-purpose runner Aaron Stidham. The success of the rushing game would not be possible without the superior play of the Union offensive line, led by Trevor Wagner and 2017 All-Region D tackle Brandon Bunch.
While the Bears come into the contest riding high, the Warriors limp into the game both literally and figuratively. Central lost their starting quarterback and biggest offensive threat, Isaiah McAmis. The do-it-all quarterback was a threat running and had 456 yards and four touchdowns through the air. The Warriors will now lean even heavier on running back C.J. Crabtree, who is the leading rusher for Central. Coach Luke Owens hopes he can rely on his leading runner to take pressure off the new starter at quarterback. Ethan Mullins, a freshman, will again get the nod a week after his first career start on the road against John Battle.
Mullins said he will be facing a completely different set of challenges this week. The Bears are much more accomplished on defense than the Trojans and Bullitt Park is one of the toughest venues for opposing teams in southwest Virginia. The Bears are 32-1 at home since the 2014 season, the lone loss being a state semi-final defeat to eventual champion Appomattox in 2017. Few teams perform better at home than the Union Bears. Mullins must get acclimated to the crowd noise and the atmosphere quick if the Warriors hope to come to Big Stone and escape with a Mountain 7 win.
Seth. Sports fan. Big Stone Gap native. Freelance writer. Knows the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3 as well as the species of the symbiote from Spider-Man (Klyntar). A decade plus covering local high school sport in one capacity or another. Takes himself very, very seriously. Hire me!!!!