Prep football two-a-days: Union
The offensive line is big but young.
The defense returns five starters but many of those players will be going both ways.
There could be as few as just three senior starters, but they will be in key positions.
Piecing it together is something that intrigues Union coach Matt Labrum, who is hopeful the Cougars can use last season's playoff experience to help this team take the next big step.
"The biggest thing for us is we need to take care of the football," Labrum said. "We need to limit our turnovers on offense and create more turnovers on defense. We've also got to be tough minded because we have a lot of players who won't come off the field."
Much of Union's success will rest on the shoulder pads of quarterback Tye Winterton, who was inserted into the starting role last year after an injury to the team's starting quarterback opened the door.
Labrum said Winterton has improved his decision making and has a good feel for what the team is trying to do on offense.
The result could be more air time. Labrum said the Cougars ran the ball about 80 percent of the time last season. It should be closer to an even split with the pass this season.
Nic Smith and Gavin Nielsen will get the bulk of the carries at running back, and Winterton will be looking for Billy Young when attacking through the air.
Jordan Gurr is the lone returning offensive lineman, but the Cougars have a core of young linemen with size that could jell into a solid front line.
The defense will be led by Paul Kaufusi on the line. Zach Roll, Dillion Gurr and Weston Horrocks will combine to give Union a solid secondary and could make Union a title contender.
ASSIGNMENT • Class 3A North
LAST YEAR • 5-6 overall, 2-3 Region 10
KEY RETURNER • Tye Winterton is back at quarterback and should help Union become more of a threat in the air.
PLAYER TO WATCH • Nic Smith. He became a starter midway through the season last year and led the team in touchdowns.
BIGGEST HOLE • Leadership. The Cougars are loaded with underclassmen and need someone to step into the leadership role.
NEED TO KNOW • Turnover trouble. One thing to keep an eye on is how well Union is able to hang onto the ball.
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