NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WKBN) – After falling in each of their first two contests (to Shenango and Rochester on the road), the Scotties finished the 2020 slate strong by winning 4 of their last 5, including a shootout on October 16 over Fort Cherry (43-42). Union broke through to close out the year with their first winning season in three years (2017: 8-4).
Coach Stacy Robinson returns for his 25th season at the helm of the Union football program.
“Like any other year, we expect to challenge for a playoff spot,” Robinson said. “With our small roster, the main key to accomplish that goal is to stay away from the injury bug.”
Having a full off-season gives Coach Robinson the type of direction coaches prefers to have.
“Last year, we were basically operating on a day-to-day basis. Still, I was proud of the way our kids adjusted to the challenging times that were a part of 2020. We came through with a winning record and if it had been a normal year, we won enough games to garner a playoff spot.”
The Scotties kick off the 2021 season with a matchup at Mohawk Friday, August 27.
2020 Record: 4-3 (4-3, 4th place in Big 7 Conference)
Coach: Stacy Robinson, 25th season
Previewing Union’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 26.7 (comparable to 30th in area)
Returning Starters: 6
Key Returnees: Jackson Clark, SR/RB; Antonio Faraone, SR/OL; Tyler Staub, SR/QB; Nick Vitale, SR/OL
Key Losses: Aaron Gunn, OL; Ron Holmes, WR; Anthony Nealy, WR
Name to watch for: Tyler Staub, QB
The Scotties welcome back quarterback Tyler Staub and leading rusher Jackson Clark for their senior seasons this year. Staub completed 84 of 152 (55.3%) for 1,271 yards and 11 touchdowns. Clark ran for 492 yards on 95 carries (5.2 avg). He also caught 16 passes for 227 yards and scored a total of 8 offensive touchdowns (6 rushing/2 receiving).
Union lost their top two pass catchers, Anthony Nealy (33 catches, 516 yards) and Ron Holmes (26 catches, 469 yards), to graduation.
Up front, the offensive line returns a pair of starters.
“We have Nick Vitale and Antonio Faraone from last year,” Robinson said. “We lost Aaron Gunn, who is now playing for Louisville. He was our four-year anchor along the line. We also lost Jake Vitale, who was a three-year starter for us as well.”
Previewing Union’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 29.0 (47th in area)
Returning Starters: 6
Key Returnees: Jackson Clark, SR/LB; Tyler Staub, SR/DB
Key Losses: Aaron Gunn, DL; Anthony Nealy, DB
Name to watch for: Jackson Clark, LB
“Our defense can be really good,” Robinson said. “What we don’t have with size, I’d like to think we can make up with our speed. There will be several newcomers that will have to fill in key roles but we do return seniors Jackson Clark, Antonio Faraone, Ron Clark, Nick Vitale and Tyler Staub in leadership roles.”
Clark is the lone returning First-Team All-League selection from a year ago. Faraone and Vitale each finished with 2 quarterback sacks, while Staub picked off 3 passes from his spot in the secondary.
2020 Class A Big Seven Conference Standings
Rochester – 6-1 (7-2)
Shenango – 6-1 (7-2)
Our Lady of Sacred Heart – 5-2 (5-3)
Union – 4-3 (4-3)
Burgettstown – 3-4 (3-4)
Fort Cherry – 3-4 (3-4)
Cornell – 1-6 (1-6)
Northgate – 0-7 (0-8)
Aug. 27 – at Mohawk
Sept. 3 – Ellwood City
Sept. 10 – at Neshannock
Sept. 17 – Rochester
Sept. 24 – at Northgate
Oct. 1 – at Cornell
Oct. 8 – Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
Oct. 15 – at Fort Cherry
Oct. 22 – at Burgettstown
Oct. 29 – Shenango