Vikings Entertain Cavs Tonight
Union Pines entertains Southern Lee in conference football action tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Cameron.
The Vikes’ last home game of the season will also be senior night at Woodrow Wilhoit Stadium.
Starting at 7 p.m. all Union Pines seniors on the football team, cheerleading squad, band and ROTC will be recognized at the 50-yard line.
The evening is also Union Pines’ annual youth sports night. Local area football players and cheerleaders from Crain’s Creek and New Century middle schools, along with the Optimist tackle football leagues, will receive free admission by wearing their current jerseys. Preceding the pomp, circumstance and celebrations, the Vikings and visiting Cavs will get down to the business of competing in a late-season Cape Fear Valley Conference (CFVC) pigskin clash.
The Vikings enter the tilt riding a four-game losing streak and an 11-game league skid. At 2-6 on the season and 0-4 in CFVC play, Union Pines has been outscored 181-48 in its four conference contests this season.
Union Pines head coach Ryan Riggan feels his team is coming into tonight’s game after a “pretty good week of practice.”
“We have a lot going on in terms of trying to make sure our offense is more patient and helping to eliminate some mistakes. Defensively it went pretty good as well. We have emphasized that we have to play exactly where we are supposed to this week as Southern Lee has some really explosive players. We need to keep them in front of us.”
Last week, the Viking defense gave up 399 rushing yards to Westover (2-6, 1-2 CFVC) in a 40-14 conference loss in Fayetteville. Meanwhile, Union Pines offense had only one scoring drive on the night, with its other touchdown coming on a kickoff return.
“Our focus this week has been going things to keep from shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Riggan. “We have worked on not jumping when we change counts and just getting back to focusing on staying in front of the chains. Defensively we have focused on tackling and making sure we know where the right place is and get there as fast as we can.
“Southern Lee is an extremely fast team on offense, with multiple skill players that can really hurt you and can take advantage of any missed assignments. Defensively, they are all over the place, flying around and making plays. This is a very good football team and we need to play well from start to finish against them.”
Southern Lee comes into tonight’s tilt with an overall record of 5-3, and a CFVC mark of 2-2. Last week, they stormed back from a large deficit only to just miss a comeback bid, falling 35-33 to Overhills (2-5, 2-1).
Overhills topped Union Pines in both team’s conference opener this season by a score of 50-22. The Cavs bested Western Harnett 31-12, three weeks ago, for their last league win, as they enter tonight as losers in their previous two CFVC outings.
Conversely, Union Pines lost to Western Harnett by a score of 42-12. Southern Lee’s other CFVC win came via a 28-14 road win against Westover.
Last season Union Pines lost to the Cavs 50-36, as junior running back Ace Chalmers amassed 292 total yards from scrimmage against the Vikings, including 233 rushing yards on 19 carries with three touchdown runs.
Riggan admitted Chalmers will be a main priority for the Union Pines’ defense tonight, but not the unit’s sole focus.
“Southern Lee has a lot of skill guys who can really go,” Riggan said, “But we have to know where Chalmers is at all times. Even still, each of our guys also have to play their responsibility or players for the Cavs can hurt you quick.
“Our keys to success in this game will be to limit Southern Lee’s big plays and control the clock and tempo of the game. We want them to work at our pace and not get caught up like last season and work at theirs. For our seniors: I want them to go out with a bang and leave it all out there on the field.”
“We have to work together and play hard and with high intensity and effort. If we can do those things, we can be successful.”
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