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Originally posted August 13, 2012
Union seniors - center Brandon Berg (from left), linebacker Cameron Cotton, linebacker David Todd and wide receiver Chris Hall - hope to lead the Redskins to another Class 6A state title. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Union seniors lead football squad in search of fifth straight title
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
(Reprinted with Permission. This is not an endorsement.)
Union linebacker David Todd is a standout rugby player who recently visited the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
"I was getting a feel on what it would be like to train for the Olympics and possibly make that squad," Todd said. "Coming back, I realized that the guys here (on the football team) work so much harder than some of the Olympians. The work ethic of the guys around me inspires me. It takes that motivation to win four straight state championships."
Todd and his teammates are looking for a fifth consecutive gold ball this year. Union enters the season as the unanimous choice of opposing 6A-1 coaches to win its 15th consecutive district title. Owasso, which snapped Union's 94-game district winning streak last year, is the pick for second place. The teams will meet in the district opener on Sept. 21 at Union.
District 6A-1 is the same group of teams that composed 6A-4 last year except that Booker T. Washington replaces Bixby.
The Redskins' defense was a big part of Union's title run last season as it stopped opponents' last-minute drives to preserve one-point wins in the final three games. In addition, linebacker Coleby Evans' fumble return provided the winning touchdown in the championship game against Broken Arrow.
"I feel better this year about our defense than last year at this time," Union coach Kirk Fridrich said. "I feel very confident. It feels like the returning players we have are the right returning players - the guys doing all the adjustments on defense, who have to do all the thinking. We're much further along because of David Todd and Chase Dahlquist, who is the first returning starting free safety since I've been coaching here. I don't know of a better one."
Todd, a senior who had 59 tackles last season despite missing five games with a shoulder injury, will lead the linebacking corps along with senior Cameron Cotton, who had 68 tackles, and Evans, who had 107. Todd will move to the MIKE position as the successor to Union's career tackles leader, Blace Walser.
"David brings a lot of energy and spirit to the game." Fridrich said. "He's definitely a catalyst for the excitement of how we play. It all kind of comes from David. The energy he brings to practice and to games is something a coach always loves to have. His first sport and first love is rugby. He plays a lot like that, with reckless abandon. But he's extremely smart and very intelligent.
"Cameron is a leader, who is always here and always does what we ask him to do. I consider him a program kid who has made himself into a real good football player. Coleby is a real special player and I love his attitude. He's maturing quite a bit."
Union's defensive progress late last year also was sparked by end Dalton Rodriguez, who is committed to play for the University of Oklahoma.
"He has the potential to really disrupt any offense we play against," Fridrich said.
The Redskins' offense is led by senior quarterback Hunter Atyia, who passed for 1,669 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. His receiving corps includes two University of Tulsa commits, Chris Hall and Kahlid Kornegay.
"I think we're going to have one of the best offenses ever," center Brandon Berg said.
Todd also sees that potential.
"We're fast on defense, but they're really fast," Todd said.
Justin Silmon and Terrell Buchanan will likely split time at tailback. Buchanan rushed for 323 yards and four TDs as a freshman in the playoffs last year. They will run behind a line that includes major-college prospects Berg and Blake Mejia.
The state record for consecutive large-school state titles is six by Jenks from 1996-2001.
"It's our goal to beat Jenks' record," Todd said. "Even though we won't be a part of breaking it, we would know we laid the foundation for it."
For the seniors, the pressure to repeat builds as the streak grows.
"You don't want to be the class that lets everybody down," Cotton said.
Hall added, "It's weird. There's more pressure, but there's more confidence. With all the work we've put in, we know we can do this."
Original Print Headline: Union seniors hope to repeat
Barry Lewis 918-581-8393