Union County took an unusual path on its way to the Class 3A state championship game.
The Yellow Jackets finished the regular season 5-5 before winning four straight road games to punch their ticket. Union County (9-5) will face Hartsville (14-0) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.
“Our season has been pretty amazing,” Union County coach Steve Taneyhill said. “We lost our last regular-season game against Chester. Broome beat Chapman and really got us in the playoffs. We’ve gone 4-0 on the road in the playoffs since then and really started to get confidence.”
The Yellow Jackets may be amazed by their run, but Hartsville coach Jeff Calabrese isn’t shocked.
Never miss a local story.
“I know coach Taneyhill and what Union County stands for,” he said. “I’m not surprised they are here.”
Both teams won close games to advance to the championship.
Union County defeated top-seeded Daniel 20-14, while Hartsville beat Strom Thurmond 14-10. Taneyhill and Calabrese were pleased with how their defenses played and agreed that’s what will determine which team carries home the championship trophy.
“We’re only here because we’ve played halfway decent defense,” Calabrese said. “I’m sure Steve would tell you that. We’ve both been able to score points since we’ve been around. But the reason we’re still around is because our defenses are playing well. ... I think we’re playing good defense at the right time. The only difference is Union County is a different animal.”
Added Taneyhill: “Both of our defenses have tough offenses to get ready for. (Calabrese) can’t line up in practice in the same things we’re going to do. He can get in it, but it’s hard to simulate. We’re going to face the same thing all week. I think the game will come down to defense and which one plays better, but it’s going to be hard for both teams.”