The Daily Gazette
The Locally Owned Voice Of The Capital Region

Are the Garnet for real

This Union College football team has me wondering how good it really is.

After an 0-3 start, and with some youngsters in very key positions, it appeared that it was going to be a rebuilding year for the Dutchmen. Very understandable. After all, several of their all-time best skill-position players graduated last year.

But sophomore QB Connor Eck has matured quickly, and the Dutchmen's ground game, already considered its strength, has blossomed behind T.J. Franzese, Darnell Thomas and fullback Tim Hersey. Dylan Schuck provides extra muscle on short-yardage situations, and Eck is an excellent runner, also. In fact, he's the team's second-leading ground gainer.

Even with the team's top three receivers out with injuries, sophomore Kyle Reynolds has taken over as a solid receiving threat with a nose for the end zone.

And the team's defense has really come on strong over the last four games, limiting foes to under 300 total yards each week. Union has an outstanding plus-9 turnover ratio, and the team's mistakes have decreased dramatically, except for a few special teams problems that arose last week (two fumbled punt returns and one blocked punt).

All this means nothing, of course, if the Dutchmen (4-0 Liberty League, 4-3 overall) can't play a competitive game against nationally ranked Hobart Saturday on Boswell Field in Geneva.

Hobart always gives Union fits at home, and these Statesmen are the real deal. They are not only 4-0 and 7-0, but they are ranked as high as sixth in the country in various polls. Their defense is stout, allowing only 10 points per game, and they have plenty of running firepower to go along with a veteran quarterback.

If Union wins this game, it would be a big upset, but it would also put the Dutchmen all alone on top of the Liberty League standings with two games to go. It's not unthinkable that these guys could surprise everyone and win this game.

But then again, Hobart could crush the Dutchmen and give them a dose of reality.

Stay tuned. I'll be heading out early in the morning for the drive to scenic Geneva. I've made the trip every other year since I've been on the beat for 27 years. It's a great place to visit, and it will be an even nicer trip if the Dutchmen somehow step up and pull the upset.

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