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Union City football looks to improve in Year 2

Union City football looks to improve in Year 2
Written by Jesus Jimenez of the Pal-Item-- Mike Thompson’s first year as Union City’s head football coach started with a loss to Tri High and ended with a 4-6 record.

In Year 2, the Indians have had a year to learn Thompson’s style, and the young players that played key positions have only matured.

“I think, it’s obviously ahead of where we were last year, because I came in at this time last year, we really had no idea where we were at,” said Thompson, who came to Union City after coaching 18 years at Missouri. “Where we’re at this year, we have a little better idea of what we have and where we can go and where we can work with.”

Where the Indians are looking to go is up after a 4-6 record that included a 3-4 mark in the Tri-Eastern Conference.

They will have to make up for the loss of six seniors, but have key players returning in key positions.

“We lost some really good players last year, we didn’t have a very big group of seniors, I think we had five, and they were some quality kids in there, which will be hard to replace, but we have a lot of good kids coming back that got a lot of playing time last year,” Thompson said.

“We got a lot of starters back, so I think one, they’re experienced, a year older, a little bit quicker maybe, a little bit stronger hopefully, and just that experience and us knowing what to do with them will hopefully help us get a better start to the season.”

Junior Kyler Purdin earned the starting quarterback spot after junior Trevor Thompson went down with a preseason injury.

Purdin threw for 877 yards and 10 touchdowns and Thompson had 167 passing yards and two scores in six games. Mike Thompson said both are in the mix to lead the offense again, while senior Aaron Foster will make an official move to wide receiver after taking some snaps at quarterback.

Tyler Thornhill returns after rushing for 477 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns, while junior Kayled Leedom had two rushing scores while rushing for 101 yards.

Union City High School football
Coach Mike ThompsonBuy Photo
Union City High School football Coach Mike Thompson (Photo: Palladium-Item Joshua Smith, Palladium-Item Joshua Smith)
Junior Chris Perez and sophomore Cameron Vincent are both guys looking to play key roles offensively after making the jump from offense, and coach Thompson said senior Isaac Jefferis could see some time at various positions.

“Tyler will be back as a starter, he was really figuring it out last year and he’s very explosive, I think he has a chance to have a great year,” coach Thompson said of Thornhill.

“… There’s kind of a multitude of other guys, there’s other guys looking to move into some spots.

“… We’ll see what we do with Isaac Jefferis, what position he ends up playing, he could play the fullback or he could play the offensive line spot like he did last year, so we got a couple others that are sophomores that are vying for starting spots, we’ll see what we can do the next couple weeks.”

Defensively, Thornhill led all returning players with 78 total tackles, while Leedom had 68, Jefferis had 42 and junior Rawlin Mills 35.

Leedom had 6.5 quarterback sacks, while Hayden Downey had two, and Trevor Thompson, sophomore Cameron Luster and Foster each had one.

Thornhill, Foster and Jefferis each had two interceptions, while Mills, Perez and Thompson each had one.

“Honestly, I think we’re going to be pretty athletic on the defensive side of the ball,” coach Thompson said. “I think we’ll have some pretty good athletes and we’ll be pretty solid, I just couldn’t tell you which piece is going to be where. I think we have a little more work to do before we find that out.”

Union City hosts Tri High Aug. 19 to open Tri-Eastern Conference play, then travels to crosstown foe Mississinawa Valley of Union City, Ohio in Week 2.

The Indians also host Monroe Central in their second non-conference game Sept. 9 and have home games against Centerville Sept. 16 and reigning TEC champion Northeastern Oct. 14.

They travel to Union County Sept. 2, Winchester Sept. 23, Lincoln Sept. 30, and Hagerstown Oct. 7.

“When I’m coming in, a lot of these guys either hadn’t played football before or hadn’t played in a while. They’re coming in, everything is new to them, offense is new, defense is new, terminology is new, so right now, we can go on, we can actually run a play today and it will look like a play,” coach Thompson said. “That’s a big advantage for us, not starting at ground zero, so we’re able to kind of build on where we were at last year and kind of refine some of the things we started with in the past, so I think that’s a big help and a big plus, their knowledge of what we need to do is certainly a lot higher.”


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