Falcons host Union City for annual bragging rights
Football rivals have walked a tightrope this season as they have battled the virus, injuries low numbers
The annual “Milk Can” game pitting Winchester’s “Black Attack” against Union City’s Indians has been, and always will be, one of the biggest games of the season for both teams.
Bragging rights, a positive mark in the Tri-Eastern Conference, and now with the game being the regular season finale, there is always a great deal on the line.
This year is certainly no different. Both teams have had some ups and downs this year, both walking a tightrope to play through COVID-19 – Union City playing much of the season with 15 to 17 players and Winchester battling injuries for most of the season.
From one perspective, Union City has had a remarkable season considering the low number of players in uniform. Maloy and his coaches were unable to recruit as usual during the spring and summer, thanks to the pandemic. The Indians lost Week 2 against Monroe Central due to a last minute positive test in the Bears’ camp. There has been some quarantined at the school, but it’s somehow managed to miss the football program, which likely would have shut it down.
The Indians have managed to win three conference games, all on the road, but have lost four others, the worst being last week when they were overpowered 56-2 against Centerville for Homecoming.
Senior quarterback Hunter Reagan has completed 40 percent of his passes, but only one for a touchdown. Junior Blayne Daniels and Hunter Clay have carried the running game. Clay, Gabe Addington, Daniels and Eli Moore, along with some others, have led the defense. The Indians have been especially good on special teams with Daniels and Ryan Armantrout doing a nice job with the kicking.
Maloy does not hide the fact that this week’s game against the Falcons is the biggest game of the season for his squad. “It’s our Super Bowl,” he says. “It’s a big rivalry, and I know it’s cliche, but you can throw out the records. We’ve always gone into the Winchester game with a chip on our shoulders.”
Winchester hasn’t been able to catch a break this season. It’s hard not to wonder what might have been after the Falcons were forced to substitute a Week 2 game, Knightstown for Franklin County. After Knightstown claimed to not enough players in Week 2, Coach Mike Jones scheduled a game with Class 4A power Franklin County because he wanted his kids to play.
So instead of possibly getting a win over Knightstown, the Falcons took it on the chin, and everywhere else, against a much bigger school. Some injuries in that game affected their next four ball games.
“I really believe we would be 5-3 right now instead of 3-5,” Falcon coach Mike Jones said, alluding to the fact that in a 25-22 loss to Union County, the Falcons had no experienced players at inside linebacker or fullback due to injuries. “We weren’t really healthy until the Hagerstown game (on Oct. 2).
Winchester’s junior quarterback Brayden Tippett had put together a solid season, completing 57 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns.
Senior running back Kollin Orr has carried the running game with 511 yards and seven touchdowns. Orr, Brooks Burelison, Cooper McCoy and Trenton Edwards have been the top receivers.
The defense has been led by Edwards, Brayden Jenkins and Parker Sheets. Senior Will Anderson has converted 12 of 13 extra points.
Union City won last year’s Milk Can game 26-24 by controlling the clock and keeping the ball away from Winchester’ offense. Expect this year’s game to be a close affair, determined by the play up front. Field position will be a critical factor in determining a victor.
– Winchester coach Mike Jones surpassed Scott Hargrave with 54 coaching wins last week against Hagerstown. Both Jones and Maloy are in their ninth year as head coach.
– Both Union City and Winchester learned of their sectional opponent this week. The Indians must travel Class A No. 1 South Adams (8-0). The Starfires have averaged nearly 50 points a game this season. Winchester will host Class 2A No. 5 Heritage Christian (6-1). The Eagles are scoring 40 points per outing.
– WCHS Athletic Director Scott Hargrave has announced the ticket limit for this week’s game has been raised from 250 to 500 for Winchester fans, and up to 300 for Union City fans. Tickets will be sold to players, students, faculty and workers first, with any remaining to be sold at the gate on a first come, first serve basis. The gates will open at 6 p.m.