It didn’t take long for the Union Titans to realize advancing in the Class 4A football state playoffs is going to take a stiff challenge.
That challenge began earlier in the week when the inaugural WIAA state seeding committee gave the undefeated Titans 4A’s top seed in the 16-team field state tournament field.
Then came the actual test from its opponent, a Skyline football program with a rich history of winning state titles the past two decades.
Not your typical first-round matchup, the Titans say, which is why Friday’s 50-10 victory over Skyline proved extra special in many ways.
“This puts our name on the map,” said Alex Vallejo said, who had three catches for 77 yards and and a score. “It’s good beating a team that has a history.”
History is exactly what Union (11-0) did McKenzie Stadium, dispatching a Skyline (6-5) program that’s been one of the more dominant programs to advance to the 4A state quarterfinals. All seven of Skyline’s state championships have come since 2000. Its last state title game appearance came in 2015 when it defeated Camas in the state quarterfinals on the way to falling to Gonzaga Prep in the finals.
The win snaps Union’s four-game losing skid in first-round state playoff games as it will host the winner of Saturday’s Bothell/Chiawana game next Friday or Saturday back at McKenzie Stadium. Union’s last state win came in 2011.
Union made quick work of a Skyline team that scored on its opening possession Friday — a 17-play, 62-yard drive — to make it an 8-7 game.
Then Union reeled off 42 straight points that put the game into running clock with 3 minutes, 50 seconds left in the third quarter. Alishawuan Taylor’s 6-yard touchdown run one play after special teams tackled Skyline’s punter to start the ensuing drive at the 6-yard line, made the lead 50-10.
How efficient was Union’s offense Friday? Perhaps the best it’s been all season, quarterback Lincoln Victor said.
Union scored touchdowns on its first seven series, and if it wasn’t for its first turnover coming on possession No. 8, it might have been more. Its shortest drive was one play; the longest 14.
“Things just clicked tonight,” Victor said. “We were firing on all cylinders.
Victor went a step further, too.
“You know a sign of a good team when you’re receivers are blocking,” he said. “When they’re blocking and being selfless and the whole team is being selfless, that is when you start getting big plays, converting the little things, and don’t get mistakes.”
Victor had 121 yards on just three carries and also threw for 208 yards on 12 of 16 completions. Two of his three total touchdowns came on rushes of 66 and 53 yards and both on third-down plays.
But the defense shined just as much. Twice Skyline had the ball inside the 10-yard line, including first-and-goal at the 1 in the first half, only for the defense to hold. Jack Eggleston’s tackle-for-loss on leading rusher Beau Switzer coupled with an offensive pass interference on the ensuing play gave way to a loss of down. Union then scored on a 92-yard touchdown drive.
Union’s last state win came in 2011, but Friday, Victor said, was a good testament to the Titans’ week-long preparation.
“It’s fun to see guys clicking and having fun,” he said.
UNION 50, SKYLINE 10
Skyline 7 3 0 0 – 10
Union 15 14 21 0 – 50
U — Nile Jones 1 run (Marvin Barber pass from Jake Bowen)
S — Luke Rohleter 5 pass from Joe Green (Carter Shane kick)
U — Lincoln Victor 66 run (Alex Koga kick)
U — Jojo Siofele 2 run (Christia Alcorn kick)
U — Alex Vallejo 35 pass from Lincoln Victor (Koga kick)
U — Jones 4 run (Alcorn kick)
U — Victor 53 run (Koga kick)
U — Alishawuan Taylor 6 run (Alcorn kick)
RUSHING — Skyline: Beau Switzer 19-42, Eddie Rosemont 1-(minus-6), Joe Green 4-6; Union: Jojo Siofele 8-50, Lincoln Victor 3-121, Nile Jones 7-21, Isaiah Jones 9-40, Aiden Olson 2-5, Lamont Lane 2-8, Darien Chase 1-51, Alishawuan Taylor 1-6.
PASSING — Skyline: Joe Green 16-27-0-183, Eddie Rosemont 0-4-0-0; Union: Lincoln Victor 12-14-0-208; Jake Bowen 2-2-0-36.
RECEIVING — Skyline: Luke Roleder 3-26, Cameron Trencher 4-51, Christopher Johnson 4-70, Beau Switzer 1-6, Donovan Bahall 2-14, Cole Good 1-6 Union: Alex Vallejo 3-77, Jojo Siofele 4-66, Darien Chase 5-66, Tobias Merriweather 2-36