|Twisters, McKenzie not same as before |
|Posted: Monday, November 10, 2008 3:59 pm |
|To hear Wade Comer and Darren Bowling talk, McKenzie and Union City haven’t played before this season. |
And while the two coaches were likely just posturing their respective teams for a different angle coming into their highly-anticipated Round 2 Class A playoff rematch, the clubs that take to the War Memorial Stadium field this coming week are indeed somewhat different than the ones who met in Week 4 of the regular season.
UC won that first meeting 21-16. The Tornadoes built a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter but had to hold on late against what was then the state’s fifth-ranked team.
The contest could best be described as a tale of two halves, with Union City dominating the first and McKenzie the second.
The ending was somewhat controversial in the eyes of Rebel fans, who saw a fourth-quarter touchdown called back by penalty and another no-call in the waning minutes go against their team.
McKenzie’s frustration was then illustrated when first Comer, then one of his players were whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct before the final horn sounded.
Both the Rebel coach and Union City’s Bowling downplayed anything that happened during that first meeting, each claiming they will field different teams for the rematch.
“I don’t think that anything that happened the first time will have a bearing on this game,” Comer said after his team went to Memphis and edged Manassas 7-6 in a first round game. “I know they’re better, and I think we’ve improved, too.”
“We both will still do the same stuff, but I think we’re better at it than we were earlier and I imagine they are too.”
The McKenzie skipper, whose team was ranked ninth — one spot behind UC in the final Associated Press poll — also claimed any talk of revenge or payback for that heated ending was coming from people outside his camp.
“That’s what fans do, they talk about what might have been and what should have been,” Comer said. “We just got beat. You might get caught up in the heat of the moment, but, as a coach, you have to move on quickly and not let those things linger.”
For his part, Bowling is focused only on making adjustments for what he anticipates he might see from the Rebels the second time around.
“We’ll work on correcting some things that we didn’t do well against their defense in the second half of our first game,” the UC coach said. “McKenzie has a good football team. They play hard, they’re confident and they’re well-coached. I expect us to see a better team than we saw the first time we played.
“As far as us, we obviously aren’t going to do a lot different than what we did before. Needless to say, we hope to do it better. We have made some strides since the last time in what we do, and I think that will make us a little different opponent for them.”
On paper anyway, there is some validity in what both coaches say.
UC struggled with ball security issues in that first game, losing three of six fumbles and committing four turnovers in all. Against the Rebels, the Tornadoes posted a season-low 266 total offensive yards.
In the Twisters’ most-recent outings however, they’ve turned the ball over just once in each of their four previous games. They’ve also rolled up more than 400 yards in each of those contests as Bowling’s midline/veer offense runs smoother, and has averaged more than 53 points-per-game.
Most-telling in Union City’s recent prowess is the emergence of slots Kendrick Price and Jacob Worley, along with a position switch of Josh Nicks from slot to fullback to give the locals multiple threats in addition to standout QB Colton Speed.
A gang-tackling, ball-hawking Purple and Gold defense has also emerged, limiting five of its last seven opponents to seven points or less after giving up 84 points in their first four games.
On the McKenzie side, quarterback Austin McKinney has become more of threat to throw the football, with Quinton Bowden still a huge big-play threat who has gotten healthy after undergoing thumb surgery just before the earlier UC game.
Running back Jake Johnson, who missed the first meeting with an injury, is now part of the Rebel rotation, while hard-nosed fullback Jacob Fussell is still a factor on both sides of the ball for his team.
“I expect it to be a good one, a real good one,” Bowling said.
Just like the first meeting.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.