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FOOTBALL LOOKAHEAD: Cats, Jets Ready to Rumble

September 12, 2012
By TRACY WATSON , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MORRISTOWN - Things can only get better for coach Mark Cisar and his Union Local football team heading into the start of its Buckeye 8 season Friday night against visiting Edison.

After all, the Jets are currently in the midst of a 22-game losing streak dating back to a 21-19 victory against Meadowbrook on August 27, 2010. Ironically, while Union Local has lost 26 of its last 30 outings, Cisar's group had won 21 of 23 before that.

Wildcats coach Mike McKenzie has directed his team to victories against the Jets during their current losing skid, including a 28-12 decision last season. In all, the teams have played five times with Union Local winning the first three and Edison the last two.

McKenzie's crew broke into the victory column for the first time in 2012 last week, scoring 35 unanswered points after trailing winless Weir by a 20-6 count in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Union Local fell 21-7 to arch-rival Barnesville.

''We started slow because I think we were questioning things about executing,'' McKenzie said. ''We have had some injuries also, and are struggling a little bit to get in a rhythm.

''But once we found it last week we really got going. Tackling early on was a problem, but it has been. We just need to make plays, finish tackles and get more comfortable and confident.''

Both teams have the capabilities of putting points on the board with athletic backfields. The Cats are led by their dynamic duo of junior quarterback Nolan Marcus and senior tailback Chris Graziani, who combined for 417 total yards of offense against the Red Riders.

Graziani's big night included 151 yards on 23 carries and four trips to the end zone, while Marcus completed 7 of 10 passes for 172 and two scores and ran for 94 more yards. Rich Springer caught three balls for 78 yards and two six-pointers.

''It's a typical Edison team that is very scrappy and just gets after it on both sides of the football,'' Cisar said. ''They will spread you out, they run the ball well and they have very good speed and can do damage to you up the field.

''And they fly to the ball on defense as well.''

For the Jets, it's sophomore quarterback Gavin Porter and junior tailback Eric Dunfee, who rushed for 106 yards and a score last week. Porter, meanwhile, threw for 71 yards including four tosses to freshman Kaleb McDiffitt for 58 of those.

In all, Union Local has 12 seniors and juniors on a large roster comprised mostly of underclassmen.

''This is a team that presents a lot of problems with all of their different formations,'' McKenzie said. ''You have to make sure you are lined up in the right places against them, and they are running the ball more this year.

''It is going to be a challenge for us.''

While Edison was busy putting up 548 yards of total offense last week, the defense allowed 325. On the other hand, Union Local had just 221, but allowed 248.

''We have been in games, but our biggest problem is that we keep shooting ourselves in the foot,'' Cisar added. ''Our defense is playing well at times, but we don't take any chances and you have to when you have scoring opportunities.

''We have got to find a way to put points on the board. We are not making any big plays on either side of the ball and that needs to happen to really get us going.''

 
 

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