In Union, big players come in small packages
LITTLE BIG MEN Although they may not be very tall or weigh very much, Tony Warren (41) and Sammy Sullivan (33) came up big for first-year Union head coach Brad Breland (center) this season. Photo by Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Nov. 19, 2001
UNION In Billy Crystal's You Look Mahvelous' comedy routine, one of his lines was that, "It's better to look good than to feel good."
When it comes to playing football at Union, it could be said that it's better to play big than to be big.
In today's world of high school football, Union seniors Tony Warren and Sammy Sullivan don't stand out when the team charges onto the field. But once the game begins, you can't miss them.
Warren is 5-foot-7 and weighs 160 pounds. Sullivan is 5-foot-8 and tips the scales at 150 pounds. Many teams have at least one player that outweighs the two of them together. If that big guy could match those two in heart, he'd be bound for the NFL.
Warren had 104 tackles during the regular season. He also forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles, and intercepted a pass. He returned a blocked punt for a touchdown in a 32-8 win over Noxapater.
He has rushed the ball 54 times for 258 yards while sharing time at fullback.
Sullivan had 52 tackles during the regular season to go with a fumble recovery and an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown against Pisgah in a 39-6 win.
The Yellowjackets made their first venture into the state playoffs Friday at Bogue Chitto and were 6-5 heading into the postseason after winning just six of 33 games the last three years.
Sullivan, whose mother lost her long battle with cancer a week ago, is proud to be a part of Union's history-making year.
He thought a playoff bid was realistic despite the team's 3-19 record over the past two years since dropping to Class 1A.
The season got off to slow start with losses to Enterprise and West Lauderdale before a 31-30 overtime loss at Lake dropped the Jackets to 0-3. After a win over hapless Thomastown, Union traveled to Sebastopol and claimed a 28-6 win over a team that it had lost to the last two years.
The Jackets lost 7-6 in the rain at Pelahatchie before going on a four-game win streak over Edinburg, Noxapater, Nanih Waiya, and Pisgah to qualify for the postseason. In the regular season finale, Union pushed unbeaten Puckett to the limit before falling 23-20 on the road.
Breland has especially enjoyed the turnaround in Union's fortunes as he was a member of the 1985 team that went 9-1 but didn't make the playoffs as only one team advanced that year. An 8-7 overtime loss to Enterprise kept Union out.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 693-1551, ext. 3235.