Week Two: Union Bears (1-0) at Richlands Blue Tornado (1-0)
Regular season: Union def. Richlands 16-7
Playoffs: Union def. Richlands 13-10
Overall series: Union leads 5-3
Another chapter in the Bears-Blue Tornado series unfolds this Friday in what has become Southwest Virginia’s most exciting rivalry. The 2A powerhouses are always near the top of their respective districts and are always in the hunt for the Region D crown. The 2018 editions of each squad are no outliers. Both are expected to be potential keys in the postseason hunt. The matchup could prove to be a large factor in the power point standings come November.
Richlands QB Race Moir
Moir comes into the contest looking to light up the Union secondary. Moir is an accurate and mobile quarterback. Tornado head coach Greg Mance does a great job of putting his signal caller in great positions. With incredible size at the WR position, Moir’s options are plentiful. The Bears secondary is still working on the right formula to defend a spread passing attack. If Moir has time to throw and gets in a rhythm, the Bears could be in for a long night.
Union RB/LB Mason Polier
The bruising runner could prove to be the most important player for Union. With excellent size and speed, Polier is a factor in many different offensive looks, as both a lead blocker or a punishing runner. Capable of bowling over defenders, Polier rarely goes down on first contact. He could prove most important on the other side of the ball. The inside linebacker, along with his three position mates who are first year starters, will have to be aware of the intricacies Richlands will throw at them. Positioning and reactions will be vital, as last week J.I. Burton had success moving the ball with a short passing attack. As one of two returning starters from last year’s defensive unit, Polier and the gang will need to be disciplined in their assignments to slow down the Blues high-flying attack.
While both teams boast two of the best kickers in SWVA, Richlands has the biggest weapon at kicker. Levi Forrest has the strongest leg around and has proved his ability to connect from 50+ yards out. The Bears have no slouch with Justin Falin at kicker. Both players have kicked in high pressure scenarios. However, the Blues’ home field advantage will give them the nod in the kicking game. In a rivalry often decided on the last play and by less than a touchdown, a well-timed field goal could prove to be the difference.
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!!!!