Union unshakable in season-opening win

Union roughs up Thunder in debut of new surface at McKenzie Stadium

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

The new scoreboard at McKenzie Stadium got a workout Friday night.

Well, one side of it anyway.

photoSteven Lane/The Columbian Union receiver Trent Cowan, left, has his helmet knocked off by Mountain View defender Russel Culverwell but manages to hang onto the ball for a 16-yard gain at McKenzie Stadium. The Titans scored on the drive in their win.

The Union Titans, with their next wave of talent, rushed over the new turf at the stadium, and ran over the Mountain View Thunder 35-7 in a non-league high school football opener for both squads.

Junior running back Leon Siofele made a name for himself with four touchdowns in his first varsity start. Sophomore quarterback Nolan Henry had an impressive debut, as well. The Union defense was the Union defense, stuffing the Thunder from start to nearly the finish.

Siofele rushed for 118 yards and four touchdowns, getting just one carry in the second half as the Titans jumped out to a big lead.

"It's breath-taking, really," Siofele said. "It's always been a dream. It's a great feeling to be out here with my friends, my teammates."Henry was 12 of 18 for 100 yards through the air, and no complaints.

"I was a bit nervous, but I felt really confident with the offense," Henry said.

He appreciated that his first two passes were short routes. He completed both of them to ease into the game.

"That was a big tone-setter," he said. "Getting those passes down, it really built my confidence."

Senior linebacker Paul Gladkov is another new face with the Titans. He moved from Missouri this offseason and he, too, made an immediate impact. He sacked the Mountain View quarterback for an 8-yard loss on a fourth-down play in the first half.

"The adrenaline was going," he said. "Our goal was to execute and don't let them score."

The Thunder did get on the board, but late in the contest, long after the game was decided.

This was all but done in the first half when the Titans gained 266 of their 377 yards. Mountain View, meanwhile, was held to 58 yards in the first half and three first downs.

"For the first time out of the chute, we did some good things," Union coach Cale Piland said. "Most importantly, we played with a real good energy and intensity. In Week 1, that's what you're trying to establish. Proud of my kids for doing that tonight."

Siofele missed much of his 2011 season with an injured knee. He looked fine Friday.

"I wanted to come back this season and make a name for myself and let people know who I was," Siofele said.

He converted a fourth-down play on Union's second drive of the night, then cashed in on that drive with a 20-yard touchdown run. He did the same thing on Union's third touchdown. First, a fourth-down conversion, then a TD -- this time on a 1-yard run.

Those drives showcased his power. His third touchdown was all about speed, a 54-yard run with 19 seconds left in the first half.

"I had a feeling he was going to be gone on that one," Henry said.

As quarterback, Henry got a great view of Siofele's night.

"That was crazy," Henry said. "I knew he was going to have a really good year. All fall camp, he's been outstanding."

Siofele capped Union's scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 35-0 midway through the third quarter.

Union's Bryce Evans had the other touchdown for the Titans, a 42-yard end-around play to make it 14-0. It was Union's second TD in 64 seconds, converting off a Mountain View fumble that Evans recovered.

The Thunder found some success in the fourth quarter, with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that included one fourth-down conversion. Eddie Richardson scored on a 3-yard run to make it 35-7 with four minutes left in the game.

Carl Falls led the Thunder with 60 yards rushing on 12 carries.

UNION 35, MOUNTAIN VIEW 7

Mtn. View 0 0 0 7--7

Union 14 14 7 0--35

First quarter

U -- Leon Siofele 20 run (Mitch Wheelon kick)

U -- Bryce Evans 42 run (Wheelon kick)

Second quarter

U -- Siofele 1 run (Wheelon kick)

U -- Siofele 54 run (Wheelon kick)

Third quarter

U -- Siofele 2 run (Wheelon kick)

Fourth quarter

MV -- Eddie Richardson 3 run (Jordan Montenegro kick)

Individual statistics

RUSHING -- Mountain View: Carl Falls 12-60, Austin Mace 7-53, Richardson 11-34, Nicholas Wright 5-22, Luke DuChesne 3-(-26); Union: Siofele 13-118, Evans 1-42, James Munson 8-38, Treve' Ensley 5-24, Alex Berfanger 1-14, Ray Palacio 2-9, Nolan Henry 1-8, Rushawm Pen 1-2.

PASSING -- Mountain View: DuChesne 2-6-0-22; Union: Henry 12-18-0-100, Brendin Quinn 2-3-0-22, Siofele 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING -- Mountain View: Anthony Drew 1-23, Jesus Familia 1-(-1); Union: Trent Cowan 6-54, Siofele 2-25, Ensley 3-12, Evans 1-11, Munson 1-11, Micah Merfeld 1-9.