Titans have averaged 50 points in last four games
Union Titans (7-1, 3-0 4A GSHL)
Week 1: Union 35, Hermiston (Ore.) 21
Week 2: Union 26, Mountain View 21
Week 3: Eastside Catholic 35, Union 0
Week 4: Union 33, Tumwater 29
Week 5: Union 56, Heritage 6
Week 6: Union 52, Battle Ground 8
Week 7: Union 49, Evergreen 6
Week 8: Union 43, Skyview 14
Next: vs. Camas, 7 p.m. Friday at Doc Harris Stadium
The Union Titans picked up their biggest win in three seasons, clinched a playoff spot, and now are getting ready to take on the top-ranked team in the state for the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League title. To see our game story on Union’s win over Skyview, go here:
Union jumped out to a 15-0 lead and had Skyview in trouble. The Storm, though, still had a shot.
Skyview got a momentum boost with a 61-yard run to the 1-yard line, setting up first and goal.
Four running plays later, it was Union’s ball.
Lincoln Victor, known more for his quarterback abilities, had the tackle on first down. Jojo Siofele, known more for his running back skills, got the tackle on second down. On third down, Riley Miller and Sausau Faalevao combined for the tackle. All three plays were stopped on the 1-yard line.
On fourth down, Riley Miller met the ball carrier for nothing.
First down Union, ball between the 1- and the 2-yard line. And when changing direction (with it being Union ball) that officially makes the line of scrimmage the 2-yard line. One play later, it was a 98-yard touchdown for the Titans, a pass from Lincoln Victor to Darien Chase.
Speaking of Chase, one could say he got all of this started, too.
Skyview’s long run to the 1-yard line? It would have been a touchdown had it not been for Chase, who chased down the running back, slowed him, and then two other Titans helped get him out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
Put it all together, and instead of a 15-7 game, Union led 22-0.
The playoffs were calling, and the Union Titans answered.
One more game-changer:
Skyview got some life, scoring a touchdown on the final play of the first half to make it 22-7.
The Storm also received the second-half kickoff.
This was a chance for two scores in a row, without Union’s offense touching the ball. This was a chance to turn this blowout into a contest again. This was a shot for Skyview to get back in this, to continue its long playoff streak.
The Titans squashed all those Skyview hopes on the second play from scrimmage.
Joshua Joo intercepted a Skyview pass and returned it to the 1-yard line. The next play, Victor was in the end zone for a 29-7 advantage.
“I saw the ball. At first, I tried to deflect it,” Joo explained. “My hand decided to catch it. My mind was going crazy. I couldn’t think at all. My mind was just going crazy.”
Return to glory:
The Titans improved to 7-1 overall with a 3-0 mark in the 4A Greater St. Helens League. They are coming off back-to-back 4-5 seasons.
They had made the playoffs the seven previous campaigns.
Union’s win over Skyview ended the Storm’s 12-year playoff run. Now Union has a chance to end another streak.
The Titans take on Camas, the defending Class 4A state champion. The Papermakers have won 58 consecutive games in the regular season. The Papermakers also have won 41 consecutive league games.
Union is the last team to beat Camas in league play, way back in 2009.
No matter what happens Friday at Doc Harris Stadium, the Titans are back in the playoffs.
The numbers, again:
There were some incredible football players, from both teams, on the field Friday night at Kiggins Bowl.
Lincoln Victor, though, proved to be THE difference-maker.
Union’s quarterback (and, apparently, run-stuffer on defense when the other team is on the 1-yard line!) threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 115 yards and three touchdowns.
Of his 15 rushing attempts, the only thing that slowed him down was the goal line. Victor was never stopped for no gain or a loss in his 15 carries. His only 1-yard run was a 1-yard touchdown run.
He threw for 202 yards in the first half. The Titans were so dominant, he only attempted three passes in the second half.
The numbers that matter most to the Titans: 8 and 9. As in Weeks 8 and 9.
Union coach Rory Rosenbach told me in August and he reminded me again after Friday’s win that the Titans were going to use Weeks 1-7 to prepare for 8 and 9 — the Skyview and Camas games. That is when, he said back in August, the Titans would really like to see Victor at his peak.
That plan worked to perfection in Week 8. And because of that, no matter what happens in Week 9, there will be a Week 10 for the Union Titans.
What did Rory Rosenbach think of his team’s performance in Week 8? “Really proud of how we prepared all week. Proud of how we stayed poised under pressure and overcame the adversity that came with the game. Loved how physical we were.”
MVP on offense: “You know,” said Rosenbach, obviously referring to quarterback Lincoln Victor.
MVP on defense: “Jojo Siofele, first defensive action of the season, forced into duty due to a few guys being banged up,’’ Rosenbach said. “Led our team with 12 tackles and was the physical presence we needed around the line of scrimmage.”
Thoughts on Week 9 vs. Camas: “I am so happy for our kids,’’ Rosenbach said. “They deserve this experience. … For them to have worked hard enough to be able to compete against one of the state’s best teams and coaches for a league title is special. I am excited for our team to experience this atmosphere. It will help us prepare for what’s down the road. They are the No. 1 team in the state for a reason, but if we play our best I think we can give them a game.”