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Though long, UC on right path

Though long, UC on right path
While Union City High School football may not be all the way back, Darren Bowling is convinced the Tornado program is headed in the right direction.
Bowling, hired last winter to recharge the UCHS fortunes after recent mediocrity, said the Twisters’ recently-completed 10-2 season that ended with a heartbreaking 17-14 second round playoff loss to McKenzie was the first step in his long-range plan to restore the Purple and Gold to gridiron supremacy.
“It’s a start, but by no means are we satisfied,” the Union City coach said while reflecting on the season as a whole. “We achieved some great things, 10 wins, a region championship, two home playoff games. It was a heck of a first step.
“I told people in the community and our administration when I came here, though, that I had a five-year plan. This staff has been together only eight or nine months, and we’re really just getting started. We’ve still got a ways to go to get to where I want us to be and where I believe we can be.”
Charged with essentially changing the culture of a program that lacked toughness and physicality during back-to-back 6-5 seasons that included first round playoff blowouts, Bowling, defensive coordinator West Kennedy and the rest of the staff instituted a rigorous offseason program upon their arrival in January.
The results were impressively obvious this season in UC’s old-school smash-mouth persona, and the head coach said the coming offseason program would be even more demanding as he directs the program, hopefully, back to where it once was as a perennial power in the 1990s.
“It’ll be even more of a commitment from the kids,” Bowling said. “They’ve learned how to work hard in the last eight months and that part won’t be as much of a shock to them physically.
“We’ll be even more detailed now, though, with meetings and some other things that we’ll implement that we didn’t have time to this past season because we didn’t get here until January.”
Before hitting the weights again, there’s the three-week TSSAA-mandated dead period, a necessary evil, according to the coach.
“I think the kids would tell you, ‘Let’s get started tomorrow,’” Bowling claimed. “Personally, I think three weeks is a little long, but we don’t set those standards and we will abide by them. I just believe building and having a program is a never-ending job.
“We do need a little time to heal, though. We were banged up at the end of the season, partly because the kids’ bodies weren’t used to what we put them through for an extended period of time. And we’ll take some of this down-time to reflect and set goals for next year.
“One thing we won’t do, though, is lose our focus. That’s one of the few positives about the way our season ended. You can always use failure as motivation for the next year, and that we made so much progress but still came up a little short, we’ll use that a bunch in the offseason.”
The Tornadoes’ schedule for the next two seasons is almost finalized, with non-district games against Huntingdon, Trinity Christian Academy and Obion Central set, along with matchups vs. league foes Humboldt, Trenton, Lake County, Halls, South Fulton and Greenfield also locked in.
A Week 0 or 1 date will complete the slate.
 that will be formally announced in the next week or so.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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