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Road to perfection, title include another 'Jacket Bowl'

Published on Thursday, November 19, 2015

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Troy Pride's late 53-yard touchdown reception from Mario Cusano versus Union County earlier this season was the difference maker when both teams played at Dooley Field in Week 4. Greer improved to 4-0 and Union County fell to 0-4.

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Troy Pride's late 53-yard touchdown reception from Mario Cusano versus Union County earlier this season was the difference maker when both teams played at Dooley Field in Week 4. Greer improved to 4-0 and Union County fell to 0-4.

By John Clayton

The Greer and Union County football programs have a lot more than their school nicknames in common.

Both teams have prolific offenses, histories of state championships in Class 3A and a mutual respect that has developed over years of friendly and not-so friendly competition.

The series will continue Friday night when Greer and Union County meet for the second time this season at Dooley Field – this time in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs. Greer defeated Union County 35-28 on Sept. 11 in the regular-season edition of The Jacket Bowl.

"There's a lot of pride between the two schools," Greer Head Coach Will Young said. "May the best team win."

Respect.
 
And it is indeed mutual and well earned.
 
The two programs have eight state championships between them, but both programs are also more than a decade removed from their last one.
 
Union County Head Coach Steve Tanneyhill, the former pony-tailed quarterback at South Carolina, said Greer, "could very easily be the best team in the state."

But all the while, the rivalry simmers until it reaches a boil on game nights.

"This game motivates itself," Tanneyhill told Upstate Prep-Cast. "The guys get fired up to play Greer."

Funny, Young has said virtually the same thing about his players and Union County.

There is no added incentive needed in Jacket Bowls, but what about the rare playoff edition?

Greer (11-0) is looking to get through the second round of the playoffs after a couple of recent too-early exits. 

Perfection means a state championship to cap a 15-0 campaign.

Record-wise, Union County is hardly perfect at 5-6. But those Yellow Jackets annually play one of the toughest schedules in Class 3A, including out-of-conference games against Class 4A powers Gaffney and Spartanburg along with a conference slate with Clinton, Broome and South Pointe.

Union County came from behind to upset Belton-Honea Path 27-24 in last week's opening round, while Greer trampled at-large Travelers Rest 45-13.

If Greer is to advance to the next round of the playoffs, those Yellow Jackets know they will have earned the trip back to Dooley Field for a Thanksgiving weekend playoff game.

Cusano called this season's Jacket Bowl the "toughest game" he'd ever played, and it's doubtful he is the only Greer player to have felt that way. 

Jacket Bowl 2.0 promises not to disappoint either.

There's a lot more on the line than respect this time around.

 

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