Union own worst enemy against West Middlesex
Union (20) vs. West Middlesex (27)
Written: Aug 30, 2008
By KAYLEEN CUBBAL
Two lost fumbles. Two interceptions. A whopping 119 yards in penalties.
That was the bad news for the Union High football team last night.
The potential good news for the Scotties, though, was take away those mistakes and the season opening 27-20 loss to West Middlesex might have been something quite different.
“We just beat ourselves with the stupid stuff,” Union coach Stacy Robinson sighed. “We went over and over and over all this in the past couple of weeks. You take away the times that we snapped the ball too soon or got called for stinking late hits and we’re right there.
“We could be a good football team and I think we showed that tonight. At least that’s one positive. We have to take that and build on it now, not keep making the same mistakes.”
Union made just about all of them last night. Eight illegal motion penalties. Two delay of game calls. One flag for too many men on the field. Three personal fouls for unnecessary roughness. One facemask.
Throw in the untimely fumbles and interceptions and West Middlesex couldn’t help feeling that it dodged a bullet at Socs Roussos Stadium.
The Big Reds, however, had their own hurdle to overcome since head coach Jason McElhaney was not present for last night’s game.
“Coach McElhaney came down with a stomach-type thing this morning and it got worse as the day went on,” said assistant coach Ray Collins, who served as head coach last night. “He wanted to be here, but we would have needed a porta potty on the sideline to make that happen.”
Collins spent six years as head coach as Conneaut Lake, so he was McElhaney’s pick to take over the team even though he is in just his first year with the Big Reds.
For the most part, McElhaney would have liked what he saw. Unlike Union, West Middlesex did not beat itself with mistakes. Instead it got solid games from its backfield trio of senior halfback Kyle Allen, junior quarterback Kyle Wimer and junior fullback Nate Ash. Allen led the way with an impressive 212 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns.
“What a hard-fought football game this was,” Collins said. “It was exhausting. I felt like I was watching two heavyweight boxers trade punches, it was just a matter of who was still going to be standing at the end.
“Union is a very scrappy football team. They battle to the end. I’ll be surprised if they don’t win their share of games this year, they’ve got a nice line and some nice skilled kids.”
Although the numbers keep changing with players coming and going, Union also has about 22 players on its roster. The muggy night left many Scotties battling cramps, which Robinson said is a sign of sheer exhaustion.
One player who never left the field was senior two-way back Jason Burkes. He was unstoppable in the opening quarter, rushing for 77 yards on his first six carries, but he wore down as the game wore on, finishing with 95 yards on 13 tries.
“Jason is a workhorse, but I think he ran out of gas like a lot of the guys,” Robinson said. “You can’t afford to take him off the field, but after awhile, that takes its toll.”
Burkes scored two of Union’s three touchdowns, with senior wideout Damian Trott catching a 35-yard Mike Pelto pass for the third.
The Scotties’ chance for a last-minute rally fell short when two Pelto incompletions and an interception ended the final real chance for a score.
WEST MIDDLESEX UNION
14 First downs 13
268 Yards Rushing 244
18 Yards Lost 18
250 Net Rushing 226
6 Passes Attempted 14
3 Passes Completed 4
1 Passes Intercepted 2
88 Yards Passing 78
338 Total Yards 304
2-1 Fumbles-Lost 4-2
3-23 Punts-Average 3-35
2-20 Penalties-Yards 14-119
WEST MIDDLESEX 13 8 0 6 — 27
UNION 6 6 8 0 — 20
WEST MIDDLESEX — Kyle Beck, 42-yard pass from Kyle Wimer (Ryan Chupak kick).
UNION — Jason Burkes, 3-yard run (kick failed).
WEST MIDDLESEX — Kyle Allen, 45-yard run (run failed).
WEST MIDDLESEX — Allen, 35-yard run (Nate Ash pass from Wimer).
UNION — Burkes, 1-yard run (pass failed).
UNION — Damian Trott, 35-yard pass from Mike Pelto (Pelto run).
WEST MIDDLESEX — Allen, 10-yard run (kick failed).