Union, Gate City set to add new chapter to rivalry

Back in late September Union jumped out to a 21-0 lead at halftime and held on in the second half for a 28-14 win over Gate City and sent the Blue Devils to their fourth straight loss after opening up the season with a 34-29 victory over Richlands. Gate City played the game without playmakers Carson Jenkins and D’Andre Mack while Union had a healthy Zavier Lomax. Fast forward to November and Gate City has gained Jenkins and Mack while Union is without Lomax who was injured the following week against Paintsville. Both teams have went 3-2 since the week five matchup.

Back in that matchup on September, Union (8-2) got 102 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns on 14 carries from Mason Polier. Zavier Lomax tallied 61 yards and a touchdown while Antwun Jenkins rushed for 90 yards on 7 carries while catching 3 passes for 71 yards. Jenkins hasn’t been involved much as of late due to the fact that the Bears have pounded the rock at their opponents with Polier, C.J. Jones, Bryce Guerrant and their physical offensive line. Polier has rushed for 1,580 yards this season with 26 touchdowns. Brody Gibson finished 5 of 9 through the air with 102 yards passing in the win over the Blue Devils as he has thrown for nearly 800 yards this season and has tossed 7 touchdowns. Jenkins and brother, Malachi have formed a vaunted duo at wideout while Alex Rasnick and Daemi Lester have proven to be viable targets in the passing game. Ethan Hall has stepped in nicely at linebacker for Travis Turners Bears since the injury to Lomax. Trey Smith, Landon Parsons, Tanner Jervis, Jacona Hernandez and Gavin Perry have been stalwarts along the defensive front for the Bears while Jones and Polier have been ferocious from their linebacker spots. The Jenkins brothers, Lester and Rasnick have proven to be able to force takeaways in the secondary as they have intercepted multiple passes this season. Rasnick and Lester picked off passes last week and it was Rasnick who picked off Gate City quarterback Luke Reed late in the fourth quarter to seal the Bears regular season victory over the Blue Devils. Union was upset by Wise Central on October 18th but finished off the regular season with a double overtime victory at Abingdon and a lopsided victory last week against John Battle.

Gate City (4-6) set the region on fire in Week 1 with s 34-29 victory over Richlands at Ernie Hicks Stadium but then dropped five in a row. Gate City recovered nicely as they went 3-1 down the stretch and won three in a row before falling to Wise Central 35-21 in their regular season finale. Gate City had two players rush for 100 yards or more against Union in the regular season as 6’2 220 pound Logan Tomlinson rushed for 100 yards on only 10 carries while 6’2 260 pound Michael Calhoun rumbled for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns on 19 carries. Gate City has gotten back Carson Jenkins and D’Andre Mack while getting inspired play from their tough as nails quarterback Luke Reed. Kert Gibson (6’2 305) and Logan Davidson (6’3 285) are the anchors of the offensive line while Levi Rhoton and Landon Blanton have given coach Jeremy Houseright quality play in the secondary. Gate City has been outscored by it’s opponents 293-278 but are coming in the playoffs averaging 44 points a game over the last half of the season.

Union has won five in a row over the Blue Devils and seven out of the ten meetings. The two met back in the 2013 playoffs at Bullitt Park in which Gate City upended the Bears 24-14 after Union won the regular season matchup 41-19. The Bears do not want history from that year to repeat itself as the winner of the contest will take on the winner of #3 seed Graham and #6 seed Tazewell. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Friday night at Bullitt Park.

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