Meridian Star

Sports

July 5, 2014

Yellowjackets seek deep playoff run

UNION —  Members of the Union high school football squad arrived bright and early to campus at 7 a.m. Thursday morning.

Dreary and tired from the early morning wake-up, the Yellowjackets refused to let the rigors deter them from what they set out to accomplish.

The players formed a circle and began their pre-drill stretches.

Senior running back Laveil Wells made his way to the center to set the example for his teammates.

The team divided into two squadrons and begin strengthening drills, with Wells taking the lead and demonstrating each drill to his best of his ability for the rest of his teammates.

There's a rhyme behind the reason as to why the senior is eager to lead his squad. In his high school tenure, the Yellowjackets have never advanced past the second of the MHSAA playoffs, despite boasting a 29-10 record in that span.

In addition to a third round appearance, and perhaps beyond, Wells is striving for perfection in his final season donning the black and yellow.

“My motivation every day is I want to see Union winning on Friday nights and the other team losing,” Wells said. “We’re working hard now so that we can win those games. These workouts are pushing us to help us get past the second round.

“My goal is for Union go undefeated this season.”

The Yellowjackets are led by coach Brad Breland, who is entering his 14th season at the helm.

“You’re always going to face great competition in 2A South,” Breland said. “You’re always going to run up a team that’s really good and you’re going to be forced to make plays and play good defense.”

Over the last several offseasons, Breland and the Yellowjackets have taken a more diverse approach during spring workouts, as Union has not competed in a spring game the past several years.

“We go so far in baseball that we normally don’t have everybody available (in the spring),” Breland said. “I don’t think it hurts us, we’ve been pretty successful throughout the years. We haven’t had a spring game now for five years and we’ve still been able to be pretty successful.”

Additionally, Breland expressed that having a spring game could prove to be a difficult task in attempting to maintain a full and healthy squad.

“My personal opinion, I don’t know how much you actually get out of spring football versus the risks that you are taking,” Breland said. “If somebody gets seriously injured that late in the year, then you aren’t going to have them back for the fall, and we’ve been down that road before.

“With all the 7-on-7’s that we do, I think we’ll be just fine.”

Conversely, Breland emphasized the importance of summer workouts in attempting to find out which players can be relied on come the fall.

“The main thing that I’m looking for is guys that are competing,” Breland said. “You obviously get speed and strength with the weight training, but you find out who is committed. I’m looking for guys that are going to listen, that are coachable and that compete. And if they’ll do that, then we can teach them what to do.

“That’s a major point for me. I want to see who is committed at getting up at 6 a.m. and coming up here to work out three times a week. You can find out who is willing to go to battle when August gets here.”

Added Wells, “We’re pretty committed. I feel like our commitment level is upper level. My responsibility is to make sure the team is prepared. I have to make sure they’re prepared for workouts and they’re prepared for games. I have to make sure they come to workouts and work and continue to get better every day.”

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