WARR ACRES — Amid a maelstrom of injuries that turned into a historically bad start to this season, Union needed Friday night.
The 31-7 dismantling of No. 3 ranked Putnam City North was a confidence-booster to Union after a week of hard practice and a reminder that the Redskins wanted to serve to the rest of the state.
“We just had to prove to everybody that we are the Union Redskins,” running back AJ Green said. “We are still going to fight the same way we have been every single year.”
Union (2-4, 1-2) staved off matching the school’s worst six-game start since 1978 and nearly matched its per-game average of 22 points by halftime. Union took a 21-0 lead into the break after a strong ground game posted 156 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
After last week’s loss to Mustang — the first-ever to the Broncos — Union coach Kirk Fridrich said his entire team came ready to practice Monday. With the Redskins down two games in the district race heading into Friday night, they needed a confidence boost.
It came Friday against previously unbeaten Putnam City North (5-1, 2-1).
No. 8 Union stopped the Panthers all three times in the red zone, not allowing a single point on the trio of possessions. Ahead of the chains for much of the night and protecting the ball without a turnover, Union finished with 224 yards on the ground, averaging a little more than five yards per carry.
“We just needed confidence,” Fridrich said. “It’s a group of kids that come to work every day. … It’s just persevering and needing something positive.”
Putnam City North had been averaging 44 points per game before Friday night, when the Panthers only scraped by with a single touchdown despite outgaining the Redskins 300-282 in totals yards.
Union sophomore quarterback Rovaughn Banks accounted for four touchdowns, including three on the ground.
“Practicing this week, we all just wanted to win,” Banks said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It was just working. Before the game, we were ready.”
The loss to Mustang was a wake-up call, one that fueled a week of hard practice and a much-needed district win.
“This is really big for us,” Green said. “We have to keep it rolling and keep the same energy from here. We have to build to the next game, win every week and every single day at practice. We just have to keep winning.”