It appears that after stumbling to a 3-6 start to the year, the Union Academy Cardinals are playing their best ball of the season right now. That notion was supported during their 56-6 win over West Columbus in last week’s Class 1A first-round playoff game.
Running back Rasheed Rushing led the way with 164 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
Coach Robert Rushing said the Cardinals are benefitting from a healthy roster for the first time all year. Rasheed Rushing is now at full strength after suffering a high ankle sprain and battling turf toe earlier in the season, while quarterback
Zach Crump is fully recovered from a deep thigh bruise that hampered him for several games.
Robert Rushing also said the team has made some personnel tweaks, as Devin Black has added depth at fullback, and Josh Anderson has joined Rasheed Rushing and Antonio James at tailback to provide depth.
The improved health, coupled with the players finding comfort in their new positions, couldn’t come at a better time as the Cardinals are set to visit Albemarle (11-1) on Friday, Nov. 9.
Rushing added that while Albemarle is one of the favorites to win the 1A state crown, the Cardinals gained some confidence this summer, when the two teams faced each other in a scrimmage.
“We feel real good going into this week,” said Rushing. “We did real well with them. We did pretty much what we wanted to do. The kids feel real good, they’re feeling like we’re on (Albemarle’s level).”
The Cardinals also should get a push from kick returner/receiver Maliq Pando, who added an 85-yard kick-off return for a touchdown in last week’s win.
“(Pando) fills that special teams role,” Robert Rushing said. “He knows how to hit the hole, and he knows when to turn in and when to go.”