Shorthanded Union aims to build off successful season
After a storybook year in 2017, Union once again finds itself in a familiar position: fighting the numbers game.
The Scotties have 21 players reporting to camp, about the same as it has been for the past few years at one of the smallest public schools in the state.
“We’ve been down this road before,” longtime coach Stacy Robinson said. “You make do. You find a way to get it done.”
Last year, the Scotties did get it done to the tune of an 8-4 record, the program’s best record in nearly four decades, and a trip to the WPIAL quarterfinals.
Repeating those results will be difficult for a team that not only is fighting a lack of numbers, but also some inexperience. Union graduated its top passer, rusher, receiver, and an all-conference lineman from a season ago. But that’s a challenge Robinson enjoys seeing with his juniors and seniors moving up.
“There’s some big shoes to fill, but that’s the great thing about high school football. People move on, and it’s a chance for other people to shine.”
With the graduation of quarterback Evan Pinkerton, junior Tyler Benedict will take over under center for Union. Benedict has a year of experience at quarterback, playing his entire freshman year at the position after Pinkerton was lost for the season on the first series of the campaign. Benedict then started all season on the offensive line as a sophomore, again showing the versatility of positioning for the Scotties.
“We’ve been creative a lot over the years,” Robinson said of utilizing his small roster size, “We’ll continue to be creative. We’re not making excuses. ... We just have go out and do what we have to do.”
The biggest challenge will be replacing all-purpose back Tre Charles, who scored double-digit touchdowns each of the past two seasons. Michael Flowers will jump into that main role. The junior got plenty of work last year, eclipsing 800 yards from scrimmage and scoring 12 touchdowns. He also started at running back for four games mid-season while Charles missed time with an injury.
Seniors Ed Stoddard and Dylan Brown also figure to see time in the backfield. Cam Brown and Corey Brown will be the top options on the perimeter.
On the line, Aaron Gunn looks to build off a phenomenal freshman campaign. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound sophomore is getting Division I interest from the likes of Penn State, Pitt and Kentucky. Senior Miguel Joseph and junior Bryce Smith also return as starters the trenches.
Last year’s playoff berth was the fifth in Robinson’s 21-year tenure as head coach of the Scotties, and was the third in the past six seasons. Even with the personnel lost from a year ago, Robinson has high hopes that his squad can continue the trend.
“Our senior class, so far they’ve been to the playoffs twice. And they missed out on a third go around on the last play of the game (in 2016) when we went for two and didn’t get it done,” he said. “They have some responsibility on their shoulders, and hopefully they will be leaders and handle the pressure.”
Coach: Stacy Robinson
2017 record: 8-4, 5-3
All-time record: 345-470-26
Date, Opponent, Time
8.25, at Shenango, 7 p.m.
8.31, Cornell*, 7 p.m.
9.7, Sto-Rox*, 7 p.m.
9.15, at Northgate*, noon
9.21, Rochester*, 7 p.m.
9.29, at Bishop Canevin*, 7 p.m.
10.5, Laurel*, 7 p.m.
10.12, at Carmichaels, 7 p.m.
10.19, OLSH*, 7 p.m.
10.26, at West Greene, 7 p.m.
*Class A Big 7 Conference game
Passing: Evan Pinkerton*
100-173, 1,246 yards, 14 TDs
Rushing: Tre Charles*
88-671 yards, 14 TDs
Receiving: Jayson Pasquarello*
13-270 yards, 2 TDs