Union Grove on the rebound

From Staff Reports

The Paul Burgdorf era at Union Grove couldn't have gotten off to a worse start. The Wolverines lost three straight to be 0-3 for the first time since the school opened in 2000. Quarterback Ty Moore had suffered a concussion in the season-opener against Northside-Warner Robins, and when he returned, Union Grove continued to struggle. A team returning Division I-level talent and playoff experience looked lost.

But after a 14-7 overtime victory at Woodland in a Region 3A-AAAA game Friday, the Wolverines (2-3, 2-0) have won two straight, thrust themselves back into the Class AAAA playoff picture and injected much-needed confidence.

"Most people probably wrote us off," senior defensive back Ed Wilkins said. "They didn't think we were going to be anything. We came into region play and got two wins, and we're not stopping."

Against Woodland, Burgdorf said the Wolverines "grew up," especially on offense.

"In the second half, we were able to move the ball and use some clock. We haven't been able to do that very much and our defense has been completely worn out," Burgdorf said. "Tonight, I think we complimented both sides of the ball a little bit better."

Indeed, after producing just 56 yards of offense and no points in the first half, Union Grove formed a more obvious offensive identity in the second half and overtime, and junior running back T.J. Moon was at the center. He rushed for 122 yards on 29 carries, 21 of which came in the second half and overtime.

On Union Grove's second possession of the second half, a 17-play, 60-yard drive that consumed 9 minutes 35 seconds of the clock, Moon rushed 13 times.

"He is our workhorse," Burgdorf said. "Again, you've got to give a lot of credit to Coach (Stan) Hill and the offensive line. They grew up tonight."

So did Union Grove's playoff chances.

Defensive pressure: Within a one minute three second span, the Lovejoy defense was able to break a 14-14 tie for a 28-14 win over Banneker.

The defense forced two fumbles that were returned for touchdowns late in the fourth quarter.

"I'm happy with the way we played in the fourth quarter," Lovejoy defensive tackle David Williams said. "We leaned on some young guys out there and they stepped up for us."

BBQ BOWL: If Union Grove-Woodland has the makings of a great rivalry, it got off to a good start Friday.

Stands on both sides at Woodland were packed to full capacity, with more fans watching from the track. The bands engaged in a little musical back-and-forth minutes before kickoff, mimicing each other.

The game will be called the BBQ Bowl and sponsored by Shane's Rib Shack. The victor, this time Union Grove, gets a barn-replica trophy.

Penalty situation: Lovejoy coach Al Hughes said he wasn't overly concerned about his team's penalties in the Wildcats 28-14 Region 4-AAAA win over Banneker last week.

He said most of the penalties came from his players being "aggresive", which resulted in the team being flagged five times for either offside or false start.

"I believed the guys were all keyed up, and ready to get off the ball," Hughes said. "The kids are not doing it on purpuse. They are just ready to go."

Stingy defense: The ELCA Chargers are giving up an average of just five points per game this season. Those eye-catching stats include two shutouts. The Chargers knocked off North Florida Christian 27-0 in the season opener and First Presybertrian 35-0 this past weekend.