Union County (2-3, 0-0) recorded its second consecutive win before region play begins Friday at Greer.
The Yellow Jackets are beginning to look like a complete team package after a shaky start to the season.
Defensively, Union County’s opposing head coaches note the Jackets talent up front. Defensive linemen Ja’Marcus Rice and George McBeth, and defensive end Desmond Floyd deserve the hype and recognition for their efforts and ability to smother the opponent’s offense.
Floyd’s ability to move from sideline-to-sideline is one of many reasons why Wake Forest and other Division-I schools offered the 6’5” senior a scholarship. He never takes a play off and can be seen chasing runners down from the opposite side of the field.
Not enough can be said about the Jackets’ linebackers, who are storming and swarming all over the opposition.
Coming from a former quarterback, physical, fast and hard-hitting linebackers are any ball carrier’s nightmare. Just ask Woodruff’s star running back Shun Tribble. In first half action Friday, Union County senior linebacker Deon Smith came barrelling towards the junior running back and popped Tribble so hard his body quickly changed from its vertical running position to a horizontal state. Tribble remained flat on the ground recovering from the collision.
Senior linebackers Jordan Sims and Wesley Jeter and the entire defense will be most crucial to the Jackets’ success down the region stretch. Fortunately for the Jackets if the defense stays healthy, Union County has what it takes to make it deep into the playoffs, because as the old saying goes, “defense wins championships.”
However, the first part of that quote says “offense sells tickets,” and if that is true then expect to see more Union County fans in the stadium seats.
Where the Yellow Jackets struggled offensively in its first three games, quarterback Keiston Smith and running back Michael Johnson proved they can lead Union County’s offense. In the Jackets’ two wins vs. Laurens and Woodruff, Johnson and Smith rushed for a combined 521 yards and six touchdowns.
The team’s offense missed these type of stats early in the season and the offensive production could not have come at a better time. Big offensive plays are keys to sparking a team’s momentum and the Jackets are blessed with four big-time playmakers — Smith, Johnson and sophomore wide receiver Victor Ruth and senior athlete Dierris Beacham.
Ruth leads the Jackets’ scoring efforts with eight touchdowns, including three TD receptions last Friday vs. Woodruff.
Beacham strikes when the defense least expects it but when the Jackets need it most. On Union County’s first second-quarter drive, Beacham broke loose for 88 yards from the Jackets’ own 5. This play proved to be a game-changer as the Yellow Jackets went on to score its second touchdown of the game and continued adding to their growing lead.