Trib HSSN Football Team of the Week for Sept. 20, 2021

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Monday, September 20, 2021 | 7:34 PM


In 30 all-time meetings on the football field, Rochester has dominated Class A Big Seven Conference foe Union. The Rams are 25-5 overall.

However, Union is now 5-4 in the last nine meetings after Friday’s conference opening stunner.

“I don’t think I was the head coach for all those losses, thank goodness,” veteran Union coach Stacy Robinson said. “I respect the Rochester program because they force you to. They have one of the richest traditions in the state. I am proud that over the last nine years, we’ve been able to measure up with them. Things just have a way of evening out sometimes when time and chance come into play.”

What made Friday’s result even more of an eyebrow raiser was the visiting Rams came into the game with a 2-0 record, ranked No. I in the HSSN Class A rankings. The Scotties were 2-1 overall but were coming off a 34-point loss to Neshannock.

“Going into the Neshannock game, we had the mindset that if we played to our full capabilities, we had a chance to win,” Robinson said. “Obviously, we did not win that game, so heading into Rochester, we knew that we had to be prepared to play four quarters of physical football instead of just two. After a loss, all you can do is try to reload and respond, and we had a good week of practice in anticipation of our conference opener.”

Rochester had averaged over 30 points per game in wins over New Brighton and Mohawk; however, the Rams could not dent the scoreboard against a physical Union defense.

“I was extremely proud of the way our defense performed,” Robinson said. “Wins over Rochester don’t come easy, and to get a shutout win is an even greater accomplishment. Their offense was generating points on the ground as well as through the air in a physical fashion. After both of us had our opening possessions, I got a bit of a feeling that there might not be a lot of points scored by either team.”

Robinson was correct. In fact, the game was still scoreless into the fourth quarter when the Scotties turned to their ground game and the running of senior Jackson Clark.

Clark capped off a long, grinding drive with a short touchdown run.

“Jackson Clark is doing exactly what we ask and expect out of our seniors, and that means he is leading by example,” Robinson said. “You can’t talk about getting it done. You have to show the younger players how to do it, so that when it’s their turn to lead, they have something to go off of.

“He was getting the tough yards and taking some big hits. Giving him the ball allowed us to chew some clock and put ourselves in a better position to win. Just as important was his performance for us on defense from his middle linebacker position. He had several big tackles, including a stop at our goal line on fourth down.”

One of the biggest plays of the game came with only a couple of minutes left. On a third-and-5, Union senior quarterback Tyler Staub fumbled the snap, reached into a crowd, came up with the ball, rolled to his right and turned a broken play into a big play when he connected with junior Mark Stanley, who carried defenders to the 15-yard line for a 30-yard gain. Three plays later, Staub scored the clinching touchdown on an 11-yard run.

“It was a monumental play based on the fact that it was close to being a game-turning play for them if they would have recovered the ball,” Robinson said. “Instead, Tyler did what he does, which is buy time when things break down, and he was able to find an open receiver. That play definitely gave us a bit of momentum and maybe took a little bit away from them. And Mark Stanley’s yards after the catch gave us an extra boost.”

Time will tell what kind of boost this win gives the Scotties. For now, they focus on a Big Seven Conference road game on Friday as they try to avoid a letdown against Northgate.

“I don’t think that will be a problem,” Robinson said about a letdown. “We’d be foolish to take any team for granted, especially in the world we’re living in right now with the covid issues that can disrupt a team’s flow instantly. Our league has players on every team that have the ability to change a game at any moment. We know from experience as a staff to keep things on an even keel.”

2021 HSSN Team of the Week

Week 3 – McKeesport Tigers

Week 2 – Shaler Titans

Week 1 – Northgate Flames

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