The top-ranked Union Titans got tested yet again.
Not only did they get a test from their opponent — Skyview — in Friday’s 4A Greater St. Helens League football showdown, but a test for themselves, whether it was shuffling starters around or how to respond when the starting quarterback goes down.
It’s OK to have tests like what the No. 1-ranked Titans had in a 21-15 victory over the Storm on a rain-heavy Friday night, third-year coach Rory Rosenbach said.
But it comes with an asterisk.
“As long as you win,” he said, “because now they’re league games.”
It’s true for Union (6-0 overall), as Friday was its league opener after an impressive nonleague slate of wins over now what are three top 10-ranked teams across 4A and 3A and averaging 39 points per game over four of its five wins entering the game.
Friday’s consistent rain all night led to a ground-heavy game for the spread, up-tempo offense. In all, Union ran 48 run plays.
Union scored all of its points on the Storm (3-3, 1-1) in the first half, and withstood a Skyview rally behind the return of junior Jalynnee McGee.
Union led by as much as 21-3 behind rushing scores from Lincoln Victor (7 and 19 yards) and a 12-yard score from Jojo Siofele that made Union’s lead 18 points with 3 minutes, 53 seconds left in the first half.
That’s near the time when Victor left the game from what he called postgame a deep bone bruise and muscle strain in his lower back. Sophomore Ryan Rosumny played the final snaps of the first half and until Victor’s return with 7:53 to play with Union’s lead at 21-15.
By that time, Skyview cut Union’s lead to 21-15 with both scores coming from McGee, who missed the past two games (heart), and got clearance to play Friday earlier this week.
The junior missed the past two games (heart), but got clearance to play Friday. He finished with a game-high 123 yards on 21 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown run and a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown that pulled the Storm within one score.
But the second of his two interceptions gave Skyview a chance late with 5:31 to play. McGee had five carries on the final drive, and Cooper Barnum’s catch on third and long set up McGee’s first-down run facing fourth and 4.
A series later, Union got the turnover on downs stopping quarterback Yaro Duvalko a half-yard shy of the first down at the 17-yard line with 90 seconds remaining and ran out the clock.
The biggest takeaway for the TItans?
“It’s almost more of an internal gut check,” said Victor, who finished with 54 yards rushing and his two touchdowns. “Our minds need to know that anything can happen.
“When anyone goes down, we have to pick up the slack anywhere.”
On the same turf a year ago against the same opponent, Skyview snapped its 12-year playoff run while Union celebrated a playoff berth on its way to winning the 4A GSHL title a week later.
Skyview still believes it can solidify itself as the league’s second-best team when it resume league play in two weeks traveling to Camas. Next week, the Storm host Olympia for their final nonleague contest.
Skyview coach Steve Kizer said while his team didn’t play up to its potential in the first half, he said he was proud of his team’s comeback, especially shutting out the Titans’ offense the final two quarters.
And that makes a big statement for the Storm, too.
“If we play to our potential,” Kizer said, “we can play with anybody.”
UNION 21, SKYVIEW 15
Union 7 14 0 0 – 21
Skyview 3 0 6 6 – 15
U — Lincoln Victor 7 run (Christian Alcorn kick)
S — Cody McKinney 20 FG
U — Victor 19 run (Alcorn kick)
U — Jojo Siofele 12 run (Alcorn kick)
S — Jalynnee McGee 75 punt return (kick blocked)
S — McGee 77 run (kick failed)
RUSHING — Skyview: Jalynnee McGee 21-123, Yaro Duvalko 5-4, Tyler DeJong 1-10; Union: Alishawuan Taylor 1-10, Jojo Siofele 17-108, Lincoln Victor 7-54, Isaiah Jones 6-11, Nile Jones 6-51, Ryan Rosumny 1-(minus-8).
PASSING — Skyview: Yaro Duvalko 9-23-1-61; Union: Lincoln Victor 3-4-1-25, Ryan Rosumny 4-8-1-31.
RECEIVING — Skyview: Cooper Barnum 2-19, Jalynnee McGee 4-31, Micah Baylous 2-10, Ahmani Williams 1-1; Union: Nile Jones 1-10, Darien Chase 1-10, Alishawuan Taylor 3-19, Gabe Hapke 1-3, Jojo Siofele 1-12.