BIG STONE GAP, Va. (WJHL) – Union hasn’t had a losing season since 2011, which also happens to be the first year under head coach Travis Turner, and the Bears happened to make one of their deepest postseason runs last year.
Union came into the playoffs with a 4-2 record, but the Big Stone Gap squad was able to chalk up a huge upset with a 30-24 victory over Graham in the first round. The Bears carried that momentum into their showdown against Central, in which the squeaked out a one-point victory.
The season came to a close in the state semifinals at the hands of eventual state champions Appomattox County, but Turner said his boys are ready for another run.
“We set goals every year. Our number one goal is we want to win the Mountain 7 District Championship, that’s every teams goal,” Turner said. “We play in a tough district, then their second goal is to win a regional title, then your third goal is to win a state championship.
“We’re right there knocking on that door, we were right there in the state semifinals, a game away from playing in the state championship and we want to continue that momentum and hopefully improve each day in practice and we want to get back to that spot.”
This squad features plenty of experience on both sides of the ball, including in the offensive backfield. Senior running back Zavier Lomax and quarterback Bradley Bunch will be staples of this offense with most of the offensive line coming back as well.
“I reckon we’ll just spread the ball out more I guess, you got more players you can trust with the ball now,” Lomax said. “I don’t like jinxing us, but just handle business every week. It just changes every week. Everything is different.”
That semifinal loss has resonated with this squad all summer long and they’re ready to take that next step.
“We’re bringing in a lot of momentum I feel like, we’re going to go out like we’ve got a chip on our shoulder,” senior defensive end/tight end Ethan Mabe said. “We’re defending the Region D championship and we’ve got everyone returning basically, except just a few seniors.”