By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
When it rains, it pours.
With his team having lost back-to-back games and three of its last four since a 3-0 start, Union City head coach Darren Bowling and the Golden Tornadoes will have to battle through more adversity to reverse that recent trend.
Because of mounting injuries and a defection, UC will be without its entire starting backfield Friday night when it plays at Lake County in a critical District 14A game.
Senior fullback Keylon Hyde suffered a shoulder separation last week vs. Trenton and is likely to be out at least two weeks, according to Bowling.
Hyde, who was coming off a concussion the Friday before at Dresden, played only a handful of series against Peabody before going down with his shoulder ailment.
He is still nine yards short of becoming the all-time leading rusher at UCHS.
Senior slot Khiry Lewis, who scored all four Twister touchdowns in the loss to the Tide while rushing for a team-high 162 yards and catching two passes for 63 more, is to undergo surgery Thursday for a broken finger.
He will miss Friday’s game at Tiptonville, with his status for future games yet to be determined.
Lewis had rushed for more than 500 yards and was averaging over 12 yards-per-carry.
The other starting slot, junior Tymaine Strickland, has quit the program, Bowling said.
Strickland was the team’s third-leading ground gainer with more than 500 yards to date and had 108 on 13 carries last week against Peabody.
He also was in the top five tackling-wise on the Union City defense.
Strickland reportedly told some teammates of his intentions and skipped Monday’s practice before meeting with Bowling on Tuesday.
The Tornadoes will be without a fourth regular for their next game, too, with Kane Taylor likely to miss Friday with a foot injury.
Taylor, a starter on the offensive line who also has seen time at fullback with Hyde sidelined, was to be examined further today. His status going into that examination was doubtful.
Bowling has employed the ‘next man up’ philosophy when dealing with the latest round of bad news within his program.
“All you can do is plug the next guy up and keep playing,” the coach said. “It’s a great example of football being just like life. You don’t stop life when something bad happens, and football doesn’t stop when something bad happens.
“I’m sure we’ve had several who wanted to throw in the towel in the wake of some of the things that have happened to us recently. You find out a lot about the character of your team in times like this. I’m real confident that the rest of our kids will step up and play with great passion to overcome this adversity. And I think we’ve got some other kids who we can plug into those spots who will perform well.
“And that will make us a better football team when we get the ones back who are hurt now.”
Sophomore Ricky Henry, who ran impressively for 82 yards on 15 carries in Hyde’s absence last week, will start at fullback against Lake County.
Keontre Murrell (Senior) and Javonte Moffatt (Sophomore) are the most experienced reserves likely to step in at the slot positions, though freshmen Brantley Clendenin and Decarrious Stevens could also see playing time there.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Pubblished in The Messenger 10.3.12