Jackets Win First Region Championship for Union County High School


By: Paul Davis

After the muddy, heart-breaking loss to Chapman and then a last second loss to arch rival Clinton, it would have been easy, maybe “understandable,” if the Jackets had simply folded their tents and decided to just show up in the mud at Blue Ridge.

But they didn’t.

            They embodied that locker room saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” And they have a Region Championship to prove it, to them selves first, to others second.

Before kick-off. Coach Lipsey reminded the Jackets that the game was about pride. “Pride in your self, your teammates, and your community,” he continued. “Blue Ridge will have a lot of fire and energy. You have to go beyond that. You know about adversity. Go to the next play. Play 100 percent. Make it happen. I have no magic ‘Jacket Dust.’ You have to earn this win. Defense, that quarterback can’t throw if he is on his butt. This is not a quiet and shy game. Go get it. The defense has turned it on the last two games. Offense, get after it tonight. We need the sideline energy. As Coach Dula said, ‘Put your butt on the line.’”

Half. “Good start but we need the best second half of the season,” began Lipsey. “Go. Go. We need something big to happen on defense. The play side is killing us. Listen to the adjustments your coaches will make.” Lots of positive shouts by the players.

After. “I am so proud of you,” began Lipsey. “You did what you had to do. A true team victory. Offense, special teams, and defense. You played with real heart after two gut-wrenching losses. When you have a great attitude you will find success.”

Energized linebacker Neil Washington, who seemed to be around the ball all night long, gave the closing prayer.

Quick Hitters.  The swamp-like pre-game field conditions were the worst I have ever seen in 14 years with the Jackets…the Blue Ridge player injured in the JV game reportedly had a low lumbar injury…Athletic trainers: Victoria Byers works with the volley ball and football teams and has a possible career interest in sports medicine; Kelsey Turner is a highly organized first year trainer who also works with the same teams; and Amber Gibson is a first-year trainer and enjoys hands-on work like taping and bracing… according to strength coach Dane Nelson the following are among the hardest working football players in the weight room: Joe Thompson (“Always 100 percent.”), John Fallaw, Drell Smith, Desmond Floyd, Brian Wells, Dillon West, Tyler Roark, Dusty Rhinehart, Jason Adams, Dalton Murphy and Austin Miller... the devotion was not included because I didn’t know about  a schedule change…co-captains were Michael Mebane, Tate Knox, Daniel Glenn, and Drell Smith.

The Jacket’s first drive took 7:48 off the clock on the way to a 7-0 lead… Drell Smith reportedly blocked Blue Ridge’s extra point attempt… the Jacket’s spirits were high going into the half… Smith also had a big tackle for loss on 3rd and nine…Alex Tucker got his first of two big interceptions midway in the third quarter and his last, and perhaps biggest, was with 4:57 left in the game… Taurean Houston made a big stop with Blue Ridge at a fourth and one… Brennon Crosby made a big hit on a receiver in the 4th quarter, knocking the ball loose… Desmond Floyd made a key block which helped spring Brennon Crosby for his long TD run… Nick Jackson had a big tackle for loss with just over a minute left…celebrating their win, several Jackets dove face first in the mud.

Before leaving Blue Ridge, the Jackets learned they had won the Region Championship, setting off a wild, spontaneous celebration around the buses… Coaches were bragging on the hard running of Kendrick Byrd, Michael Johnson’s TD-saving tackle, Robert Littlejohn’s fine kick-off return, and center Dillon West’s and Nick Monroe’s flawless handling of snaps…  Michael Mebane has run for 1,006 yard on 163 carries but only over nine games… no fumbles…LaBrian Smith was noticed for his excellent play on his first start as a defensive back… coaches were pleased on the play of the defensive front four essentially shutting down their running game… Washington had 11 solo tackles, Drell Smith had 2.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks, Desmond Floyd also had two sacks as did Nick Jackson.

Over the weekend, Coach Lipsey was still bragging about how the team bounced back from two very hard losses, ready to go after Blue Ridge... Lipsey explained that none of the region teams will have an easy first game and that Union could be at home through the first three games.

Who would have thunk it?

The Journey Continues. At Union. Step One. Chapin.


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