When talking about teams in contention for the Tri-Eastern Conference title, the name Union City can’t be left out.
The Indians have been strong contenders for three straight seasons and were responsible for costing Centerville a share of the 2014 title.
They almost cost Northeastern its first, too.
After going 5-5, 4-3 in TEC play, the Indians return under head coach Keith Maloy, who has generated a culture turnaround and increased expectations for the Randolph County program.
“I’m just excited with the fact that I have 14 seniors and I’ve got a very experienced offensive line, and that group, I think, is going to help lead the way for Mason (Wine) to hopefully gain some yards and Taylor (Moore) to have some success,” Maloy said.
Wine and Moore are two key seniors on offense, with Wine having rushed for 1,235 yards on 191 carries and scoring 14 touchdowns.
Quarterback Moore threw for 894 yards on 64 completions, with seven touchdowns.
Scott Walters, Dylan Doppler, Logan Riser, Gabe New and Jesus Ulloa are all senior linemen hoping to provide protection for the Indian offense, while junior Quade Carpenter is back at tight end.
Senior Kyle Cross returns after making 15 catches for 190 yards, both team highs, and senior Chase Burk is looking to contribute at fullback.
Tyler Mills, Brandon Briner, Kyle Whitesel and Roberto Sanchez are also seniors.
Maloy said sophomore Isaac Jefferies and junior Jayden Baker are also expected to start on offense.
Baker had 53 solo tackles last year, tops among returners, while Walters had five sacks and Doppler and Ulloa each had two.
“I think that’s pretty good core group,” Maloy said. “They hit hard; they tackle well. I’m excited about their linebacking core and seeing what they’ll be able to do.”
Union City opens the season with a visit from TEC foe Tri High, which went 3-7 last year after snapping a 33-game losing streak.
The Indians travel Week 2 to Union City, Ohio, foe Mississinawa Valley for a non-conference rivalry game, before traveling Sept. 5 to Union County and hosting Monroe Central on Sept. 12 in the second non-conference game.
The final TEC games are Sept. 19 vs. Centerville, Sept. 26 against Winchester, Oct. 3 at Lincoln, Oct. 10 at Hagerstown and Oct. 17 vs. Northeastern.
Union City’s three TEC losses were against Union County 9-6, against Winchester 34-7 and against Northeastern 16-14.
The Indians fell 78-27 to Eastern Hancock in the sectional opener.
Union City has gone 4-3 against TEC teams in each of the past two seasons after going 6-1 in 2011.
They defeated Centerville 20-12 and led Northeastern 14-0 before the Knights rallied in the final seconds to claim a share of their first TEC title.
“I think with the experience we have, I think we’re definitely in the mix,” Maloy said. “With Northeastern and Winchester, and then Hagerstown and Centerville, you never know what those teams will bring, but I think we’ll be in the mix with the senior leaders that we have.”
Union City Indians at a Glance
• Head coach: Keith Maloy, 31-32 in 7th year at school
• Assistants: Lance Mock, James Sigler, A. J. Root, Kevin Lawrence, Logan Shoemaker, Bill Thiebeau, Steve Shoemaker
• Key losses: Kyle Anguiano, Alex Henry, Tre Burton
• Key returnees: Mason Wine, Taylor Moore
• Friday: Tri*
• Aug. 29: at Mississinawa Valley (Ohio)
• Sept. 5: at Union County*
• Sept. 12: Monroe Central
• Sept. 19: Centerville*
• Sept. 26: Winchester*
• Oct. 3: at Lincoln*
• Oct. 10: at Hagerstown*
• Oct. 17: Northeastern*
* — TEC game
Brandon Briner 5-8, 165, LB/OL
Chase Burk 6-0, 225, LB/RB
Kyle Cross 5-9, 145, DB/WR
Dylan Doppler 5-10, 205, LB/OL
Tyler Mills 5-11, 170, DB/WR
Taylor Moore 5-10, 210, DL/QB
Gabe New 5-6, 175, DL/OL
Logan Riser 5-7, 220, DL/OL
Roberto Sanchez 5-6, 285, DL/OL
Logan Skye 6-1, 150, DB/WR
Jesus Ulloa 5-8, 220, DL/OL
Scott Walters 6-1, 225, DL/OL
Kyle Whitesel 5-11, 185, DL/OL
Mason Wine 5-8, 170, DB/RB
Jayden Baker 5-5, 135, LB/RB
Chandler Burton 5-10, 150, DB/WR
Quade Carpenter 6-1, 210, LB/TE
Jordan Stuckey 5-4, 160, LB/RB
Brian Vasquez 5-10, 230, DL/OL
Gage Adkins 5-5, 220, DL/OL
Hayden Downey 5-5, 145, LB/RB
Aaron Foster 5-7, 145, DB/WR
Quinton Henry 5-6, 195, DL/OL
Isaac Jefferis 5-10, 160, LB/WR
Zach Mahaffa 5-8, 270, DL/OL
Lucas Suerdieck 6-4, 230, DL/OL
Tyler Thornhill 5-10, 160, DB/WR
Cody Crawford 5-8, 200, DL/OL
Michael Holdeman 5-6, 140, LB/RB
Rawlin Mills 6-1, 155, DB/WR
Jacob Moore 6-0, 175, DL/OL
Kyler Purdin 5-10, 140, DB/QB
Jordan Stewart 5-9, 150, LB/OL
Dawson Thornburg 5-4, 165, DL/OL
Cameron Vincent 5-4, 106, DB/QB
5-5, 4-3 TEC, 4th place
at Tri 38-12, W
Mississinawa Valley (Ohio) 29-26, W
Union County 9-6, L
at Monroe Central 22-13, L
at Centerville 20-12, W
at Winchester 34-7, L
Lincoln 48-20, W
Hagerstown 45-13, W
at Northeastern 16-14, L
at Eastern Hancock 78-27, L (sect.)