Playoff Edition, Semifinal Round: Union and ADM-Adel Collide with Title Game Aspirations

By Cheyne Reiter

Union (10-2) continues their surreal postseason run tonight at the UNI-Dome, taking on ADM-Adel (12-0) with Knight fans once again having the biggest-game-in-Union-history mentality.

To say the least, these playoffs have been nothing but unbelievable for Union.

In round one, the Knights found themselves trailing with under two minutes remaining but perfected a two-minute offense and scored the game-winning touchdown on a strike to Trev Hadachek. The result? A 22-15 victory over Washington and an upcoming match with the 4-time defending state champion Solon Spartans.

As we all know, Union pulled off the monumental upset the following week. The Knights defense set the tone with a barrage of turnovers and the offense did the rest. Burnside racked up over 200 yards, Hadachek had a 95-yard TD catch, and the Knights handed the Spartans their first postseason defeat since 2006, 39-24. With the victory, the Knights advanced to their first ever quarterfinal game, a rematch with the Maquoketa Cardinals.

To quickly summarize, the game with Maquoketa featured a budding star by the name of Jay Scheel. A 90-yard punt return TD and a 76-yard TD keeper by Scheel energized the Union attack while Burnside was bottled up once again by the blitz-heavy Cardinal defense. The Knights successfully burned up the final minutes to hang on for the emotional 21-13 win. The bittersweet victory advanced the Knights to the UNI-Dome for the first time ever.

For Union, it's all about the three-headed monster of Burnside, Hadachek, and Scheel that proved to be 2/3 stoppable against Maquoketa. Knights fans know that you can stop one, in the case last Monday night, two, but no way can you bottle up all three playmakers in 48 minutes of highlight-reel action. One of them will bite you, and if two or all three are clicking, just sit back and enjoy the show. Although ADM-Adel boasts the No. 1 scoring defense (10.08 PPG) in all of 3A, I expect the speed of Union combined with the speed of the turf to put up a great deal of points.

Not only do the Tigers have a solid defense, but they also possess the No. 2 scoring offense (40 PPG). Their spread offense, led by senior QB Gavin Glenn, does just what their offense is meant to do, spread the ball. Glenn has thrown for 2,876 yards on 203-of-306 completions, good for a 66.3% completion percentage. Throw in a 34:8 TD-to-INT ratio and you have an extremely dangerous QB. If not beating you with his arm, he can do it with his legs as he has rushed 110 times for 667 yards and 8 touchdowns. Another threat, SR RB Jared Grove, has carried the rock 187 times for 1305 yards and 21 touchdowns. The Tigers also have five different receivers with at least 29 catches, the most dangerous being SR WR Lane Hovey who has 54 receptions for 958 yards and 15 touchdowns.

As a result, the Knights defense easily faces their toughest assignment yet. Last week, Union showed vast improvement from their first defeat to Maquoketa, holding them to 13 points compared to 35 in their first contest. ADM-Adel owns a similar offense to that of Maquoketa, but playing in the confines of the UNI-Dome means points will be aplenty.

Expect an old-fashioned shootout. Oklahoma State-Kansas State style. Oregon-Stanford style. Two high powered offenses that will surely entertain a packed house tonight.

So here we are, less than eight hours away from the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The moment we've all been waiting for. What previous Union teams could only dream about; the previous playoff teams that scratched the surface but came up just short.

The time is now. Enjoy it.