Union football: Titans make commitment to return to winning roots

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The Union Titans have appreciation for the championship-caliber teams that played before them in the school’s brief history.

They also know the standard that is Union High School football. It isn’t sub-.500 seasons they’ve had the past two seasons.

“That’s not what Union is about,” junior quarterback Lincoln Victor said.

What Union is about is seven postseason appearances, a 2008 state championship game appearance and eight winning seasons since the school opened in 2007.

Victor knows it. His brother Kapono played on Union’s 2008 state runner-up team.

So does JoJo Siofele. His brother Leon played on three straight state playoff teams from 2011-14.

So naturally, getting Union back to that standard is what these Titans want, which is why they feel there’s something special brewing about this season.

“Everyone has that vision,” Victor said. “We’re trying to get back, and get Union back on the map.”

First, the learning curve of a first-year coach and new offense is gone.

Next, it’s a blend of old and new. Victor is one of two 4A Greater St. Helens League starting quarterbacks returning. Siofele is back at running back, too; his knee injury in the season opener against Hermiston (Ore.) cost him the rest of his sophomore season.

New are a bunch of faces at skill positions. That includes one of the area’s top receivers in Darien Chase, who played for Mountain View last season. Dustin Nettles, a first-team all-league receiver and defensive back at Evergreen last year, is now at Union.

Head coach Rory Rosenbach knows the tradition always is to compete for a league title at Union. That’s no different now as the program’s third head football coach enters his second season.

“That’s the expectation,” he said. “The kids know that, and understand they have a chance to do it. If the chemistry is good, it’ll go our way.”

And once again, with the 4A GSHL receiving just two playoff berths, finding a way to the postseason is no easy task in what Rosenbach called the toughest league in the state. Union’s last postseason trip was 2014.

Said Siofele: “We’re ready to go out and win.”

2016 Record: 4-5, 1-3. Fourth in 4A GSHL

Best State Finish: Second in 2008

Projected Starters

Returning All-League selections in bold

QB Lincoln Victor 5-9 165 Jr.
RB JoJo Siofele 5-9 200 Jr.
WR Alishawuan Taylor 6-3 220 Jr.
WR Darien Chase 6-2 180 Jr.
WR Braedon Ensley 5-7 130 Sr.
TE Aiden Nellor 6-5 220 Sr.
OL Demitru Salagor 6-5 225 Jr.
OL Giovanni Rojo 5-9 240 Jr.
OL Devin Wilson 5-11 225 Jr.
OL Nick Kennedy 5-11 195 Jr.
OL David MacDonald 6-4 245 Sr.
* * *
DL Zion Fa’aopega 6-3 245 Sr.
DL Aiden Nellor 6-5 220 Sr.
DL Sausau Fa’alevo 6-2 330 Sr.
LB Alex Barrett 5-10 195 Sr.
LB Alex Vallejo 5-11 185 Jr.
LB Riley Miller 5-11 195 Sr.
LB Alishawuan Taylor 6-3 220 Sr.
DB Darien Chase 6-2 180 Jr.
DB Dustin Nettles 6-1 190 Sr.
DB Carter Sutton 6-3 160 Jr.
DB Tyrek McCullum 6-2 170 Sr.
Coach: Rory Rosenbach (second year)

Schedule

Home games at McKenzie Stadium
League games in bold
Sept. 1, Hermiston, Ore. 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 8, at Mountain View 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 15, at Eastside Catholic 7 p.m.
Sept. 22, Tumwater 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 29, at Heritage 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 6, Battle Ground 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 12, Evergreen 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 20, at Skyview 8 p.m.
Oct. 27, at Camas 7 p.m.