Union County scrambles to find opponent—again

For the second time in three weeks the Union County football team was forced to look for a new opponent on short notice—but for two different reasons.

Two weeks ago school officials canceled Union County’s home opener against Fort White due to COVID-19 issues. The Tigers were left without an opponent and could not find another team to play. 

This week, Union County’s matchup with Harvest Community (Jacksonville) fell through due to injury issues that made it unsafe for Harvest to take the field. Fortunately, this time the Tigers added American Collegiate Academy (Clearwater) and will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home.

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Union County is hoping to carry the momentum of a big win against rival Bradford (Starke) last Friday into this week’s game. The Tigers (1-0) had a big rushing night against the Tornadoes (0-2) in a 50-21 win.

“We ran the ball really well,” said Union County football coach Andrew Thomas. “Overall, we knew we had to be physical and go right at them and we challenged our kids on both sides to be the more physical team and we did just that.”

Union County head football coach Andrew Thomas

It was a rude introduction into the smallest classification, as Bradford dropped down from Class 4A to Class 1A this season and had been expected to be one of the teams to beat in Region 4.

Instead, the team from 1A-Region 3 flexed its muscles, breaking open a close 21-14 game at the half with 31 points in the final two quarters.

Senior Caleb Crawford led the ground game with 166 yards on 19 carries for an average of 8.7 yards per carry. He finished with three rushing scores.

Junior quarterback A.J. Cortese rushed for two touchdowns in the win. He carried the ball just six times for 92 yards.

Cortese only threw it three times, but completed two of his passes, including a long of 28 yards to senior Aidan Newsom.

Sophomore Thomas Williams also just missed the century mark, finishing with 85 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.

As a team, Union County rushed for 374 yards on 45 carries for an average of 8.3 yards per carry.

Defensively, Curran Webb led the way. He recorded 12 tackles, including seven solo tackles, three tackles for a loss, and two sacks.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly attributed this week’s cancellation to COVID-19 issues, rather than injuries. 

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