Fresh off of their biggest win of the season over Ridgeview, Union knows they control their own destiny en route to a Mountain 7 title.
The Bears sit at 6-1 overall and hold an unblemished 3-0 record inside Mountain 7 play. With three games remaining against the likes of Wise Central, Abingdon and John Battle, Union knows the road will be tough but the Bears are always up for a fight.
Their first stop will be in Norton as they take on the Warriors from Wise Central. Central (4-2, 1-2) is coming off of a 56-34 victory over the John Battle Trojans last Friday night at home. Scoring points has not been a problem for the Warriors as they are averaging close to 40 points per game but the defense is giving up an average of 29.8 points per game to their opponents. The likes of Ridgeview and Abingdon have scored 40 plus on the Warriors and John Battle put up 34 just last week.
Sophomore Ethan Mullins has been known the stretch the field on opposing defenses from the quarterback position. C.J. Crabtree is a playmaker in the backfield for the Warriors as he rushed for almost 200 yards last Friday night and scored 2 touchdowns. Crabtree has rushed for 13 touchdowns on the year and has two games this year in which he has ran for three touchdowns. Crabtree will need to have his legs very busy Friday night if the Warriors hope to pull off the upset bid.
Travis turners Bears are very aware of the upset minded Warriors and their plans to steal a victory away from their Wise County rival. Central is also fighting for their playoff lives and a victory Friday night would go a long way for the Warriors. Standing in their way is a stingy and rugged Union defense who held the high octane rushing attack of the Ridgeview Wolfpack to 160 rushing yards and also held Trenton Adkins to 119 yards. His lowest output of the season. Mason Polier who ran for 244 yards last Friday reminded everyone that Union had a NCAA prospect of their own. Polier is closing in on 1,000 rushing yards on the year as he sits with 994 yards and has rushed for 18 touchdowns.
Union has also proven to be able to beat teams through the air as well. Quarterback Brody Gibson has thrown for 681 yards and 7 touchdowns, including tossing 2 in last weeks victory over Ridgeview. Union got a big boost last week from C.J. Jones and Johnny Satterfield in the backfield in the absence of Zavier Lomax. On defense Union got a very nice showing from Ethan Hall who stepped in and had an impact not only on defense but special teams as well. After the loss to Paintsville, coach Turner challenged his team to swarm to the ball faster and tackle better. The challenge was accepted and the defense passed with flying colors. The Bears will have a bye week after this Fridays game to rest and prepare for their stretch run.
This will be the ninth matchup between the two teams with Union holding the series lead 7-1. The Bears have won 7 straight against Central since the Warriors beat the Bears 20-18 in the inaugural matchup in 2011. Union has outscored Central 124-19 over the last three seasons since a 14-6 victory over Central in 2015.
Kickoff will be set for 7 p.m. Friday night at Central High School.