Region D, 2A Quarterfinals
The Union Bears relied on their power run game and a suffocating defense to end the John Battle Trojans’ season Saturday at Bullitt Park. The Bears (9-2) racked up over 300 rushing yards on offense and shut out the visiting Trojans (5-6) for the second straight week to advance to a Region D semi-final matchup with Graham.
Leading the charge for the home team was senior running back Aaron Stidham, who rushed for 117 yards on 16 carries. Stidham carried the biggest load but it was junior fullback Mason Polier who gave the Bears the lead that they would not relinquish. Polier found the end zone from five yards out in the first quarter to put Union up 7-0, and made a return trip early in the second quarter from one yard out to give the Bears a two score lead at the break. Polier finished with 80 yards on 11 carries.
The second half featured motivated defense from both squads but very little offense. John Battle had a touchdown run by quarterback Zane Poe negated by a holding penalty, taking six points off the board. Union scored the only second half points on a one yard plunge from Stidham one play after he raced 52 yards to get the Bears down to the 1. The 21-0 score held and Union advances to take on Graham, a winner over Virginia High, in the Region D semi finals.
Stidham was not the only Bear runner to break the century mark, as speedster Avery Jenkins added 103 yards on ten touches. Bryce Guerrant added 63 yards on seven carries to round out the Union rushing attack. The runners benefited greatly from their pounding offensive line, who opened running lanes all game long for the Union offense. But the offense for the home team was one-dimensional, as the passing game was not a factor.
The Battle defense held an offense that averages over 30 points per game to 21 points this week and only 12 last week but could not get convert their chances on offense. The Trojans were shut out for the second straight week by the Union defense, who got a boost this week when Polier, a standout linebacker, returned to the lineup.
Union, the #2 seed, will host #3 Graham next week for a right to play for their second straight Region D title.
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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!!!!