It’s Union’s turn to face top-ranked Eastside Catholic

Union

Titans travel north to face team that routed Skyview in Week 2

Union Titans (2-0)

Week 1: Union 35, Hermiston 21
Week 2: Union 26, Mountain View 21
Next: Union at Eastside Catholic, 7 p.m.

Huge plays, a lot of small plays, and major adjustments led Union to a second-half finish vs. the Thunder.

What’s in a name?

Not to give Union quarterback Lincoln Victor a big ego or anything, but every time I type his name into the computer, the computer automatically thinks I want to write Victory.

Foes during the game, friends after the game. That is a true friendly rivalry between Union and Mountain View. Photo by Paul Valencia
Foes during the game, friends after the game. That is a true friendly rivalry between Union and Mountain View. Photo by Paul Valencia

That catch was not a mistake, but the play might have been:

No mistaking that incredible catch to seal the victory. Darien Chase snagged the ball with one hand as he was diving. First down Union. Victory Formation for one more play. (Or should I say Lincoln Victory Formation?)

It would have been difficult for Mountain View to win anyway. However, had that ball fell incomplete, it would have stopped the clock. Union likely would have punted. And the Thunder would have had roughly 40 seconds to try to make something happen.

The Thunder never got that chance, thanks to Chase.

“That was not the plan,” Union coach Rory Rosenbach noted after the game.

Instead, Victor was supposed to roll out and try to find an open receiver in the flat, something safe, to get the first down. If it was not there, he was supposed to run the ball, stay in bounds, keep the clock rolling.

Victor acknowledged as much. However, he knew the target. On the fly, Victor changed the plan.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to take a shot,’” Victor said.

The pass was a bit off target, but Chase got to it anyway.

“That was all Darien right there,” Victor said.

Some Victor, some Ensley: Victor said it was all Darien on that final big play. Well, earlier in the game, Victor and Braedon Ensley each had something to do with a 36-yard touchdown play. Wrote about it in the game story, but it’s worth repeating.

Victor looked to be on the way down as the Mountain View defense swarmed him. Victor got away from trouble, found Ensley downfield. Victor could not get as much on the ball as he would have liked (he was scrambling for his life, remember?) so Ensley had to wait on the ball. By then, a Mountain View defender had rallied.

Ensley did what I call the Top Gun move. He hit the brakes, and the defender flew right by him. From there, easy walk into the end zone.

Turnover time: Dustin Nettles, playing in his first game for Union, had an interception to end one Mountain View scoring drive in the third quarter when it was a one-touchdown game.

Mountain View’s next drive also ended with an interception. This time, Jordan Torres got the pick. That turnover led to Union’s final touchdown of the game, a 16-yard pass from Victor to Aiden Nellor for a 26-14 lead with 8:35 left in the game.

Adjustments: Alishawuan Taylor had a big tackle for loss early in the second half. Big because it set the tone for a Union defense that had allowed 200 yards rushing in the first half. Mountain View only got 64 yards rushing in the second half. Riley Miller was amazing for the second week in a row. The linebacker just knows how to get to the ball.

Zion Fa’aopega also was all over the second half for the Union defense, too.

“It all started at halftime for us,” he said. “Come out, play hard, and play fast, and be stronger mentally.”

Best photo of the night:

Yes, this is a rivalry game. Yes, it was even more emotional than usual because of the offseason that was and comments made. Still, the players have respect for one another. They are friends, off the field.

So after the contest, many of the Thunder and Titans posed together for photos. Pretty cool.

Coach speak:

What did Rory Rosenbach learn about his team in Week 2? “We have a lot of room for improvement. In all three phases of the game. Effort level, execution level, and our preparation needs to improve. We did learn however, that we believe. When we were faced with adversity we did not flinch or fold. That is a huge positive. To know that regardless of what is going to around us, we as a team collectively believe we will find a way to win.”

Coaching staff’s pick for MVP of the offense: Aiden Nellor. The tight end had three catches for 41 yards and the touchdown to put Union up by 12 points. More importantly, he was a beast as a blocker, helping Jojo Siofele rush for 115 yards and two scores.

Coaching staff’s pick for MVP of the defense: Riley Miller. Second week in a row with 15 tackles. “Took on blockers all game and made multiple stops in key situations,’’ Rosenbach said. “Most importantly, got us lined up correctly in the second half against all the unbalanced formations that Mountain View was throwing at us.”

Thoughts on Week 2 vs. Eastside Catholic: “To steal a quote from my colleague: We are playing the greatest collection of stars ever assembled in King County, and we are simply thankful for the opportunity to compete on the same field with them. … All kidding aside, they are big, physical, fast and well coached,’’ Rosenbach said. “This is an excellent opportunity for us to see where we are in our development as a team, to see what we have learned these last two weeks, and to see how we compete against the best the state has to offer.”

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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