Clear for Takeoff
Thompson’s Veteran Squad Ready for a Playoff Push
Football season is off and running for the Union Local Jets. Each and every season always sees its share of new faces and returning faces. Head Coach Bernie Thompson’s squad saw seven players from last season receive their diplomas. However, coming into the 2022 season, the Jets return seven three-year lettermen to this year’s squad. “It’s been a long time coming, we’ve been in the weight room since January, putting a lot of time and effort coming into the 2022 season, “ said Coach Thompson. Even though Union Local will be without departed players Caleb McWhorter and Dakota Hess, the Jets return several skill players starting with 6’3” quarterback Carter Blake. Blake is coming into his senior season as a three-year starter. “I definitely feel I’ve matured a lot in my years here at Union Local. I’ve grown closer to all the guys and I’ve worked on becoming a better leader, “explained Blake. He’ll be joined in the backfield with senior classmates Hayden McCrate and Jaksan Price. Price had an amazing start to the 2021 campaign scoring three touchdowns in the opener. However, a lower-body injury ended his junior season. Price stated, “I focused on getting stronger and getting my leg back to 100%. Another focus was just getting better.” His classmate McCrate explained, “Our expectations are to have a winning season and get into the playoffs each year.” Not only does Blake have a duo of dynamic running backs, but he’ll also have some talented receiver options. The Jets return the trio of Ethan Blinco, Brody Meyers & Dylan Higgenbotham. Other skill players that lettered in previous seasons include Clay Akers, Levi James, Logan Hess, Coye Fillipovich, Dre Saunders, Coltyn Carpenter, Peyton Causby, Logan Boone, and Gannon Kerns. The offensive and defensive line return nine letter winners. The line is anchored by three-year letterman, Carson Causby. He’ll be joined by Johnny Sabinski, Tyler Graham, Evan White, Vin Roach, Carson Lucas, Alex Beaver, Jake Toohey, and Logan Cole.
You could see the focus and feel the intensity at practice these past few weeks. The Jets have a very bitter taste in their mouth after the 2021 campaign. The Jets took off and jumped out to a 4-0 start. However, an undefeated Westinghouse team handed the Jets their first loss of the season. Union Local fell in their last three contests to teams with a combined 32-6 record. Their 5-5 record was enough for the Jets to find themselves in a playoff game, however, Union Local fell to John Glenn 35-21.
This is now a new season and a new team. Thompson explained, “ We had our first scrimmage against Caldwell and scrimmages are tough. We walked away very healthy, but there’s a lot that we need to clean up and attack at practice. Anytime you return your offensive line, your backfield, your quarterback, it makes things a little easier, but you also don’t want to reteach the wheel. You just want to fix some things and get better each day.”
The 2022 campaign gets underway Friday, August 19th as the Jets host the Columbus Crusaders. The Crusaders finished last season at 8-3. Union Local gets to enjoy the friendly confines of “The Hangar” 4 out of their first 5 games. After hosting Buckeye Local, the Jets make their first road trip of the season over to Martins Ferry. The Jets will host the next two games of their season against Harrison Central and Shenandoah. In Week 6, they’ll cross the river to take on Weir. The back end of the schedule was something Coach Thompson talked about again coming into this season. “Our expectations are to go 1-0 each week. I know that’s cliche but it’s the truth! We ran into some injuries and a gauntlet at the back half of that schedule and the schedule’s not much different this year. We are moving in the right direction. Everybody knows that Union Local is not a pushover.” The back half gauntlet begins with back-to-back Buckeye 8 home contests against Cambridge and St. Clairsville. The Jets close out the season at Bellaire and of course the highly anticipated Week 10 matchup for the “Battle for the Milk Jug” with Barnesville.
You can catch all the live action from Union Local’s first contest on Friday night, August 19th! The game will be broadcasted on 98.7 WOVK with Corey Klug and Brad Mitchell on the call!