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Twisters merit far more than puny turnout

Twisters merit far more than puny turnout
Some things seemingly never change.
The true die-hard Union City fans wish otherwise.
One of the few negatives to come from the Tornadoes’ 55-0 shellacking of Halls in Round 1 of the Class A state playoffs last week was the disappointing turnout to see UC’s first home postseason game since 2005.
The sparse Purple and Gold crowd was reminiscent of many in the program’s glory days in the late 1990s and early 2000s when spoiled Twister faithful stayed away in droves during early-round games and waited until later in the playoffs to show up and support the home team.
That Union City’s side was less than half-filled last Friday was simply an embarrassment. Anticipation was that a community that had grown apathetic over the program’s recent fortunes — including a pair of lopsided first-round road playoff blowouts the last two years — would return in masses to celebrate a return to better days.
History both said and proved otherwise.
The same old tired excuses as to why were given by those dyed-in-the-wool fans who did show up in tribute to a hard-working bunch of young men who deserve better.
From the complaints of the $7 TSSAA-set admission (not more than a movie ticket), to the cool temperatures (barely below 50 degrees), to the old standby (‘I’m gonna’ wait until next week when we play somebody really good,’), none of those alibis satisfied the disappointed regulars who hang on the fence surrounding the field and openly questioned the community support — or lack thereof.
What could be even more embarrassing to the locals is if McKenzie fans outnumber UC’s this week.
That’s a real possibility, according to Rebel backers who made the long trip to Memphis last week and were instrumental in helping McKenzie hold off Manassas 7-6, head coach Wade Comer said.
Unlike last week, UCHS will offer advance tickets to the game Friday from 8 a.m. until 3:15 p.m. at the school in hopes of easing expected crowding at the entrance gate that night.
Hopefully for the Tornadoes, everybody in that line won’t be wearing McKenzie colors.
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS — Luke Sanderson, who dislocated his elbow against Obion Central in Week 5, got medical clearance and returned to practice for the Tornadoes on Monday.
Sanderson, a starter at both fullback and end before being injured, is expected to see some playing time on Friday. He had gained 111 yards on 29 carries before being injured in the third quarter against the Rebels.
Sanderson may be most needed on the defensive side.
Linebacker Rance Barnes, still hobbled by a high ankle sprain, will be a game-time decision to play this week after missing last Friday’s game against Halls.
Barnes dressed last week, but was in street clothes and back on crutches after halftime as a precautionary method.
In Barnes’ absence last week, Chase Bowling and Stevie Gossett moved into the linebacker rotation, with Jacob Worley moving to the middle to fill Barnes’ spot. There was little drop-off at end when Gossett played linebacker as Zack Cavness was more than adequate filling in. Sanderson could join that rotation.
THIS AND THAT — Region 7A will surely be represented in the semifinals, set to be played the night after Thanksgiving. That would be a road game for whichever team emerges from the three rematches between league rivals to be played over the next two weeks. Though the bracket designates otherwise, Union City would be at home next week against either Lake County or Gleason by virtue of having won the Region 7 championship. … McKenzie has not given up a point in the third quarter this year and has surrendered just 22 points the entire season in the second halves of games. UC did not score on the Rebels after the intermission in the teams’ first meeting.
… Union City’s Peter Wilkes has been a huge contributor in the Tornadoes’ special teams play with 49 extra points and 16 touchbacks on kickoffs but has not punted in eight of the locals’ 11 games. In all, Wilkes has punted just eight times this season, though three of those came in the first game against McKenzie in Week 4.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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