by Aaron Garcia
Union Academy looks to keep rolling
Union Academy football coach Robert Rushing has heard the criticisms. He’s heard that the only reason his Union Academy Cardinals have beaten their first two opponents by a combined score of 114-12 is because their opposition has been sub-par.
“It’s not our place to stop us, it’s the (other team’s) place to stop us,” the coach said.
So far, that hasn’t been an easy task. With a 2-0 record, the Cardinals, No. 4 in the Super 7, opened the season with a 50-0 win over North Moore before drubbing Durham Kestral Heights the following week, 64-12. It’s quite an improvement for the third-year team that went just 4-17 in its first two years.
“We’ve just got a lot of kids that really love the game of football, that really want to win,” Rushing said. “They got beat for two years in a row when they were freshmen and sophomores and now we’ve got junior and seniors, and it’s just that time.”
The Cardinals have been paced by their backfield. Quarterback Rasheed Rushing orchestrates Union Academy’s Spin Series Spread attack, an up-tempo scheme that gives the offense several options on each play. Running backs Tyree Drakeford and LaBryan Chambers have been the main benefactors as each – along with Rushing – have topped the 200-yard rushing plateau after just two games.
And after only allowing 12 points in two games, the Cardinals’ defense has been just as stout as the rushing attack.
“We’ve got 11 kids out there that have a nose for the football,” Rushing said. “They swarm around that football – they love that football.”
While it would’ve been nice to keep their momentum going, the coach said that his team needed time to heal from the first two games, as well as find a replacement for defensive end/offensive tackle Darren Clark, who was lost for the season with a biceps injury.
“It was a good time for a bye,” the coach said.
This week, the Cardinals host Charlotte’s Hickory Grove Baptist.
Mavs weather storm, win
Even though rain and lightning forced much of last week’s slate to be moved from Friday to later in the weekend, the extra time still didn’t give Marvin Ridge quarterback Tyler Chadwick enough time to heal after sustaining a shoulder injury in a win over Charlotte Ardrey Kell on Aug. 26 before facing Cuthbertson on Sept. 3.
But Mavs back-up Derek Smith, a JV receiver last season, filled in admirably, completing five of nine passes for 42 yards and a score. He also added 11 carries for 61 yards.
“He managed the game well,” Marvin Ridge coach Scott Chadwick said. “He did a really good job of managing the game and making some plays with his feet.”
Running back Jacob Henderson also added 91 rushing yards, an 85-yard kick off return for a score and a receiving touchdown.
The coach said the team is hopeful that Tyler Chadwick will be able to return to the lineup when the No. 3 Mavs host
No. 6 Monroe Friday.
“I think (Tyler’s) a lot further along than he was last week at any point,” the coach said, who added that Smith, also the team’s leading receiver, has his teammates’ full confidence if Tyler Chadwick can’t play.
“We can win with Derek.”
Pirates to host coach’s alma mater
This week, top-ranked Porter Ridge will host Kannapolis A.L. Brown in a showdown of one of the state’s top 4A programs (Porter Ridge) versus one of the top 3A clubs in North Carolina (A.L. Brown). But the game carries added significance, in that Porter Ridge coach Blair Hardin made quite a name for himself while a player at Brown, even helping lead the Wonders to a state title.
But he said he doesn’t want the game to be about him or his past.
“Well, to me it’s a players’ game,” he said. “My job is just to get my kids focused and ready.”
But Hardin did say the fact that the game will be played at Porter Ridge, rather than his old stomping grounds in Kannapolis, will mitigate the nostalgia some.
“I spent my whole life up there,” he said. “I’ve got some great memories and it’s great to see all the people you shared that with back home. But it’s a rough, hostile environment. It’s good to be home at Porter Ridge and hopefully our fans will be there to support us.”
The Pirates will have to overcome the loss of some key players against Brown. Running back Chris Duffy is doubtful after sustaining a knee injury in last week’s 59-20 win over Forest Hills. Leading receiver Jordan Oakley was also hobbled with an ankle injury and remains a game-time decision.
But the coach isn’t making any excuses.
“We’ve just got to block and tackle,” said Hardin.