Spartans grinding it out on the ground
Sun Valley High has the most productive running game in Union County.
The Spartans are one of four county football teams averaging more than 200 rushing yards per game.
Led by dynamic tailback Albert Funderburke, who leads all UC rushers with 1,026 yards in just five games, the Spartans are churning out an average of 263.6 yards on the ground.
SV averages a gaudy 7.4 yards per carry, and has scored 13 rushing touchdowns.
Porter Ridge ranks second with 240.2 rushing yards per game, followed closely by Monroe (234.8) and Central Academy (233.6).
The Pirates have a county-high 15 rushing TDs, and average 6.4 yards per attempt. Senior Jerrick Robbins (445 yards) and junior Grant Vandervoort (388) get the bulk of the carries, but Vandervoort has been hampered of late by a shoulder injury.
Monroe has 14 rushing touchdowns and averages 6.3 yards per rush.
With leading rusher Julius Stradford (508) recovering from an ankle injury, the Redhawks have spread the wealth among Chase Byrum (307 rushing yards), Tre'Shun Wynn (136), Rahmaad Sturdivant (79), Isaiah Thomas (54) and Jocquez Frazier (51).
CATA, which has 10 rushing TDs and averages 6.9 yards per rush, relies heavily on juniors DeShawn Morrison (552 yards) and Sergio Gomez (375). Morrison and Gomez have accounted for nine of the 10 rushing touchdowns.
'This one's on me'
Porter Ridge senior receiver/defensive end Luke Bayly regrets not playing in last week's 42-28 loss at Sun Valley.
Bayly, who leads the team in receiving (19 catches, 350 yards) and ranks second in tackles for loss (four), sat out of the game with a stabilizing boot for an ankle injury.
"Is it sprained?" Bayly was asked during the game.
"Not even," he said. "I'm just sitting out as a precaution so I can be ready for the conference."
Bayly said he could have played with some soreness, but considered being healthy for the Southwestern 4A Conference a higher priority.
The Pirates have a bye this week before playing Independence.
"This one's on me," Bayly told The Enquirer-Journal as the final seconds ticked off the clock in last week's loss.
Odds and ends ...
... Parkwood junior Max Robinson leads Union County in interceptions with four. Robinson has 127 return yards on his interceptions and has also caught 15 passes for 207 yards while rushing 20 times for 116 yards.
... Porter Ridge senior Donnie Warren, a first-year starter at defensive end, leads the team in sacks with five and has made six other tackles behind the line, including three against SV last week.
... Forest Hills senior BJ Ashcraft leads the team in receiving (23 catches for 293 yards and four TDs) and ranks third in rushing (12 carries, 97 yards, 1 TD).
... Senior D-lineman Luther Jenkins has a team-high three sacks for Forest Hills and two other tackles behind the line.
... Sun Valley senior Kiersten Peck was 6-for-6 on extra points in her team's win over Porter Ridge last week. Peck is 1-for-1 on field goal attempts this year, and her 37-yarder in a Week 5 win over East Bladen is believed to be the longest by a female in Union County history.
... In addition to sharing time at quarterback for Monroe, senior linebacker Isaiah Thomas is second on the team in tackles (44) and tied for second in interceptions (two).