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Resurgent UC/SF programs playing friendly game first

Resurgent UC/SF programs playing friendly game first
Kelly Spivey and Darren Bowling have already engaged in a little gamesmanship.
Prior to the South Fulton-Union City showdown that will produce but one Region 7-1A frontrunner between the two Obion County teams currently tied for that position, the two coaches are putting their own personal spin on the game.
“Do we have Tornado warnings out?” Spivey asked during a phone conversation on Tuesday.
Bowling countered with: “I just hope we’re a worthy opponent for a team that’s ranked No. 10 in the state.”
The good-natured back-and-forth relationship formed between the two first-year coaches is part of a warmup prior to what will likely be the best-attended South Fulton football game in history.
The Red Devils are enjoying an unprecedented resurgence under Spivey.
After struggling miserably the last two seasons and having essentially fallen off the face of respectability since 2003, SF is 6-0 for just the fourth time in the modern history of the program and 3-0 in region play after not winning a league game in more than two years.
Enthusiasm for the Redmen is at an all-time high under Spivey’s leadership and subsequent success, and a win over UC would be the capper to a storybook turnaround.
Union City, meanwhile, has restored some of its long-standing pride with five straight wins after a season-opening loss to Westview under Bowling and is on the fringe of the Associated Press Top 10.
The former Obion County Central coach has instilled a sense of toughness and a physical brand of play that was missing in the past five years when the Twisters went a combined 28-29 since the retirement of Randy Barnes, the school’s winningest head coach.
Both coaches have been quick to praise their opponent this week, playing close to the vest any inkling of how their team might fare in Friday’s showdown.
“They’ve had a great turnaround and Coach Spivey’s done a super job over there,” Bowling said in his counterpart.
Spivey returned the compliment.
“They’re good. Very good,” the SF coach claimed.
The games will continue until the real one kicks off Friday.
Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at South Fulton Athletic Field.
TWISTERS GET FILL-IN — Former Obion Central aide Richard Gamblin will be helping to ease the workload both in the UC football program and in the classroom while defensive coordinator Wes Kennedy recovers from chemical burns in a Memphis hospital.
Gamblin, who assisted Bowling at both OCCHS and last year at Dyersburg, is a certified math teacher who was unemployed and will fill in while keeping the school from using an uncertified substitute.
From a football standpoint, Bowling insisted that Gamblin would have no coaching duties. The Tornado skipper said Gamblin would, however, help out as an equipment manager and “take care of some odds and ends around the fieldhouse that coach Kennedy did that went unnoticed.”
Gamblin will likely be on the sidelines on Fridays.
KENNEDY UPDATE — Kennedy remains in the Step-Down Burn Unit at The Med in Memphis while recuperating from the accident at the Kellogg’s Company plant that left him with burns on 75 percent of his body.
The Tornado offensive line coach and defensive coordinator has been quarantined while battling a fever. An attempt at isolating an infection and a bacteria and treating it is ongoing, according to family members.
Kennedy is scheduled to have skin graft surgery on Monday for burns under his arms and on his torso.
He will reportedly remain in the hospital in Memphis for an undetermined amount of time.
SF PLAYING SHORTHANDED — SF will be short-handed for Friday’s showdown with Union City and Spivey is not happy about it.
Starting senior offensive linemen Brandt Sisson and Alexander McWhirt will be out of the country on an annual trip taken during the school’s fall break, an excursion organized by the school librarian.
Scheduled far in advance, past Red Devil players have missed games and practices to travel abroad with a contingent of other students and persons in the community.
Spivey, though, citing the need to have a commitment to his program by those who wish to play, says in the future, players will have to decide if they want to play football or participate in travel during the fall break — but won’t be allowed to do both.
“This won’t happen again for anyone involved in our program,” the coach has said.

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