Bobcat on the loose

Written by Paul Harder, The Observer November 27, 2013 11:29 am

Union running back Ty Coon capped his senior season by breaking a pair of school records in the final game of the season, a 44-20 win against Pilot Rock.
Union running back Ty Coon capped his senior season by breaking a pair of school records in the final game of the season, a 44-20 win against Pilot Rock.

Union running back Ty Coon has shattered the program’s record books in 2013 

Some people like being the center of attention. Everyone focused on you, following your every move. 

As a running back, that doesn’t work out so well.  

But, Union’s Ty Coon found a way to flourish in that environment.

It was the Bobcats’ return to 11-man football, after four seasons as a Class 1A independent team, meaning they played with eight on the field.

Sophomore quarterback Aaron Nash was adjusting to the extra players on the field, and Union’s head coach Jon Reynolds was dealing with having a young team. 

But, somehow, Coon managed to shatter the record books in Union, breaking a pair of records. The senior set the single season rushing mark with 1,217 rushing yards. The previous record was 1,000 yards, set in the 1990s.

“Ty just changed his whole mindset,” Reynolds said. “He adjusted the way he ran the ball, too. Before he’d just try to get to the outside. That’s an easier thing to do in 8-man football. But, he really turned into a back that could get those yards up the middle.”

Still, most backs are only as good as the line in front of them. That’s where credit goes to the coaching staff, and Reynolds made sure offensive coordinator Chris Dunlap received that credit. Both coaches used three sophomores and two freshmen most of the season on the line.

“It kind of helped to have kids you weren’t playing 8-man football so long,” Reynolds said about his young line. “They were all very coachable.”

Coon had no idea that the record was his until late last week at the postseason football banquet. 

“I was caught off guard,” Coon said. “It’s a pretty awesome thing to accomplish. 

“Our goal was to come out and show people that we could play 11-man football. I’m not sure people thought we could. It was a great team effort.” 

The season started with back-to-back non-conference wins against the McLoughlin junior varsity team and Riverside. 

Union struggled against the top BMC teams, including Grant Union and Heppner. Both teams advanced to the Class 2A semifinals this season. 

“The team didn’t give up,” Reynolds said. “It would have been pretty easy. But that character showed throughout the season. These boys weren’t backing down.”

And, the fans who kept coming out despite a five-game losing streak got quite a season finale.

However, it didn’t look good for Coon at first.

The senior hurt his right arm during a 39-14 loss to Weston-McEwen.

Coon was hoping to return to the field the next week, but wasn’t cleared to play against Irrigon, a 34-0 loss.

His mother, Kari, said it took a toll on her son.

“He’s competitive,” Kari said. “It killed us for him to not be able to play.”

Coon came back the following week, and the Bobcats finished the season strong.

It started with a 10-7 win against Enterprise Oct. 25.

The Bobcats fought off the Outlaws on the final drive of the game to secure the win.

The momentum continued the next week against Pilot Rock.

Coon, even though he wasn’t aware at the time was 55 rushing yards short of the record going into the season finale against Pilot Rock. 

Not only did Coon smash the school’s single season mark, but he broke the single game rushing record with 272 yards against the Rockets.

“We just sort of got things going,” Coon said of the offensive play. “The line did a great job of opening things up for me. They would make one play, and then that would give them confidence to make another play.

“It was an unforgettable season. Hopefully, the program can continue to grow next season.”