Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

September 6, 2013

Tornado hits the road against Union

RICHLANDS, Va. — The Richlands Blue Tornado will have their work cut out for them tonight when they travel to Bullitt Park tonight to take on Union.

“Gate City has a very good football team and we have to build off of this win,” Richlands head coach Greg Mance said after the win over the Blue Devils. “We were very fortunate to come out with the win.”

The Tornado had to do their homework before the Gate City game and give backup quarterback River Michaels a quick study after starter Gray Baker was injured in a scrimmage a week before the first regular season game. Michaels took the opportunity and accounted for five touchdowns.

Michaels threw for 96 yards on four completions and a touchdown and rushed for 51 yards and four touchdowns on the night. Colton Staten also had a big night, rushing for 145 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown.

“River Michaels did a great job for us (against Gate City),” Mance said. “He made the plays when he needed to and got the ball where it was supposed to go and he didn’t make any bad decisions. The offensive line did a good job protecting him and opening up holes.

“Brett Compton and Devil Lawson are the only two returning starters on the line and Colton Staten at tailback. The rest of the offensive line are young kids and they executed their blocks and overall did a good job.”

Ben Brown had two interceptions and returned one 35 yards for a score. Brown also had three catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.

“Benny Brown had a breakout game against Gate City,” Mance said. “He actually had two interception returns for touchdowns and one was called back because of a block in the back and he caught over 90 yards on offense.”

The Bears are still looking for their first win of the season after dropped a heartbreaker to Clintwood last week. The Green Wave beat Union in the last minute when Tanner Brooks kicked a 35-yard field goal, 23-21.

The final score of the night pushed Clintwood’s home winning streak to 14.

The Tornado has beaten Union twice since they consolidated Powell Valley and Appalachia two years ago, however, Richlands has only won by two points in each game.

“Union is well coached and Coach (Travis) Turner does a good job preparing his team,” Mance said. “There have been some great players come through and between Powell Valley and Appalachia they have something like 13 state championships.

“They have 18 starters back from last year and 12 of them were first team All-Lonesome Pine District so it’s going to be tough.”

Against Clintwood, Union had two scores on offense and one on defense. Both offensive scores came from senior Mekyah Davis with runs of 11 and nine yards

“Davis has played against us for the past four years since 2010 when he was a freshman,” Mance said. “He’s elusive and quick in space and wide out, Jake McCray, played against us last year and had between 70 and 80 yards receiving and he has some speed. It’s going to be a good challenge for our defensive backs.”

Gate City broke a long run against the Tornado defense canvassing 69 yards when Robbie Hicks made a cutback against over pursuit and scored for the Blue Devils.

“We didn’t tackle well,” Mance said. “We didn’t squeeze down the running lanes and our defensive ends got their shoulders turned. We’ve worked on that this week and we’ve got to shut down the big plays.

“We’ve got to be successful early if we want to have a chance to win against Union,” added Mance. “We’ve got to move the chains and take the crowd out. It’s a beautiful environment to play football, but, we have to stay focused.”

Game time is set for 7:30.

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