Fans gathered at H.W. Byers on Tuesday to watch a historical event, as Union County fielded their first football team in their inaugural game versus the Lions.
Union County’s squad competed in two games, a seventh and eighth grade junior high contest followed by a ninth grade junior varsity game. Byers showed experience, as this is the second year of their program, but the UC squad displayed improvement, as they have only practiced for about four weeks.
“It was just history. It’s something we’ve dreamed of for years, and it was finally a reality. The scoreboard didn’t look well, but I was very proud of these kids. They learned a lot tonight, and we’ll be at practice tomorrow just trying to work. We’ll get better every week,” UC coach Chris Basil said.
The junior high game saw Byers jump to a 22-0 lead after the first quarter, but UC’s defense held tough in the second quarter, holding the Lions scoreless. Byers showed their strength in their running game, posting three more touchdowns in the game to win 42-0, improving to 3-0.
Union County would score in the ninth grade game, as Broderick Montgomery scored on a 60-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter, giving UC the early 6-0 lead. Both teams were plagued by turnovers in the game, with the Lions going on for the 46-6 win.
Despite the results on the scoreboard, Union County took a huge step fielding the team and participating in their first games.
“They’ve come so far, but as a competitor, they’re frustrated right now because of the end result of the score, but they’re gamers, so they’ll be back at practice tomorrow working hard, and we’ll get some things worked out,” Basil said.
The stands were packed on the visitor’s side, as many parents, friends and administrators traveled the distance to witness the historical event.
“It’s new to all of us, and that’s what it’s going to take for our community to back us,” Basil said. “They’re going to support us. They drove an hour and a half up here, and we probably had a couple hundred fans, and I was very proud of that. I appreciate them supporting these children.”
There were several special moments and big tackles throughout both games, including a big hit by D.J. Armstrong right before halftime of the first game. Moments like this brought excitement to the sideline and fans, showing the continued support of the county.
At the end of the night, the athletes experienced something new to them, and are learning more about the game, which in the end is more important than the results.
“We didn’t get all of the young kids in that we wanted to, and that’s my fault, but we were fortunate to get all of the ninth grade kids in. They’ve worked hard and they deserve to play too, and we’re going to give them a chance to play,” Basil said.
Union County returns to the practice field and will travel to Falkner on October 1.
For more pictures, see page 14.