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Game Notes for the State Football Quarterfinals: Union City vs. Huntingdon

Game Notes for the State Football Quarterfinals: Union City vs. Huntingdon
Huntingdon at Union City

PLACE, TIME: War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
2009 RECORDS: Huntingdon 8-3; Union City 9-2.
COACHES (RECORDS): Huntingdon: Eric Swenson (32-24 in 5th season); Union City: Darren Bowling (126-61 in 17th season; 19-4 in 2nd season at UC).
LAST MEETING: Sept. 11, 2009. Huntingdon rallied for a 44-35 victory over Union City.
SERIES RECORD — Union City leads all-time, 13-8.
LAST WEEK — Huntingdon thrashed Lake County, 53-7, while Union City whipped South Fulton, 49-7.
KEY PLAYERS: Huntingdon — RBs Kennon Holder and Brittian Thompson, QB Bam Melton, OL/DL Cody Umstead and Alex Walters, G/LB Ben Carter. Union City — RBs/LBs Josh Nicks and Kendrick Price, C/DT Will Arnold, OL/DT Ronnie Fair, OL/LB Rance Barnes, RB/LB Jacob Worley, OL/DL Stevie Gossett, QB Chase Bowling.
OUTLOOK: Though there have been a few bumps along the way for both teams, this is the quarterfinal showdown that most everyone had predicted in the rural West Tennessee Quadrant all along — even before the season started. That it will be the second time that the two have faced each other in a single season is not without precedent, either. Three times over a four-year period (1997-2000) — when both were Class 2A entries — Huntingdon and Union City played each other during the regular season and then again in the state semifinals. In each of those instances, the home team won the second matchup and advanced to the state finals, only to be beaten in the title game. The Tornadoes beat Huntingdon twice in both 1997 and 2000, while the Mustangs avenged a regular season loss to UC in 1999 with a 17-10 triumph over the locals iin the postseason. This year’s much-anticipated matchup will pair two state-ranked teams against each other with the Twisters coming in at No. 5 and the Ponies sixth. Holder, who burst on the scene with a state-record 503 yards rushing in a playoff game vs. USJ last season, is rural West Tennessee’s No. 1 ball carrier this year with 1,870 yards and will be attempting to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark for the second consecutive year. Thompson, who would be a No. 1 option on most teams, has instead been the perfect complement to Holder while rushing for 1,082 yards himself. Both coaches use the pass only grudgingly, with the Tornadoes’ Bowling having completed just 19 balls on the season, and Huntingdon’s Melton even less — just 12. In the two clubs’ well-documented first meeting in which the Mustangs rallied from 21 points down in the first half to a 44-35 victory after scoring 30 unanswered points, Holder ran for 221 yards and Thompson 137. A UC turnover deep in its own territory and a bad snap over the punter’s head that resulted in a safety — both in the third quarter — aided Huntingdon’s stunning comeback. The Mustangs’ three losses all came vs. teams in higher classifications and each of those teams remains alive and in the quarterfinal round of their respective playoff brackets. The winner of this quarterfinal will face either Wayne County or Jo Byrns — one of which is certain to come in unbeaten after the two 11-0 teams play in another of four quarterfinal games. Union City could host a semifinal game if it wins and Jo Byrns does the same, though a Tornado victory and a Wayne County triumph would mean the Twisters would travel to Waynesboro for the semis. Huntingdon would on the road at either venue in the Final 4, if it wins. The Mustangs have won four straight in the series.

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