Tigers' Mabrey breaks through in big district win

Union County Tigers running back Walter Mabrey runs for a touchdown past Dixie County Bears defender Jacob Richburg on Friday in Cross City. The Tigers defeated the Bears 28-14.

Matt Stamey/ Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 11:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 11:31 p.m.

When Union County coach Ronny Pruitt entered the visitors' locker room last Friday night at Dixie County, he saw 35 calm quiet faces staring back at him.

Walter Mabrey was one of them.

Despite being down 14-7 at halftime against district rival Dixie County — Class 1A's third-ranked team — the second-ranked Tigers were not in panic mode.

“We've had three games this year where we've had to come from behind,” Pruitt said. “So we just kind of told them they've been there.”

As one of the Tigers' two-way starters, Mabrey has gotten into the habit this season of approaching the second half as an opportunity to wear down opposing teams.

“He's used to it,” Pruitt said. “When you give him some space, he's kind of a tall running back and can throw his upper body around and make you miss real easy.”

On Union County's first offensive play of the third quarter, the senior running back finally broke through for the Tigers on a 47-yard touchdown to knot the score at 14-all.

Pruitt said the key to the scoring run was both Mabrey's conditioning level this year and a switch to a new formation, highlighting his illusiveness.

“We had another package that we had not shown yet and with Walter in the backfield he was able to make a few big plays out of it,” Pruitt said. “We just spread them out and ran out of the shotgun with a wing, and he was able to do some things there.”

In a monster second half, Mabrey tore off another long, 49-yard run that set up the Tigers' final score to seal a 28-14 victory against the Bears.

Along with two touchdown runs, Mabrey finished with 147 yards on just nine carries. At linebacker, he also made five tackles.

With the win, Union County (6-0, 2-0 District 1A-7) became the first team in its district to win two games. While not exactly in the driver's seat yet, Pruitt said his squad is in a great position heading into the thick of its season slate thanks in part to Mabrey's play-making ability.


KATIE JONES, DIXIE COUNTY: The freshman middle hitter notched 17 kills, 7 digs, 6 blocks and 1 assist for the Bears, who went 2-1 last week with wins coming against Suwannee and Baldwin. Jones also did damage from the service line where she scored 16 aces among her 31 service points.


DANNY STIRT, OAK HALL: The Eagles' do-everything senior quarterback led his team to a 17-14 win against St. Francis on 6-of-11 passing for 74 yards and a touchdown. Stirt also scored a rushing touchdown and gained 49 yards on the ground on 19 carries. Chipping in at defensive back, Stirt registered 9 tackles, an interception and 2 pass break-ups. Then on special teams, Stirt was 2 for 2 on extra points, kicked a 33 yard field goal and had a 35.5 punt average.


ALEX THOMAS, BUCHHOLZ: A junior, Thomas shot the low score last Monday for the Bobcats at the Crutchfield/Hawkins Invitational hosted by Sebring. A junior, Thomas carded a 78 during the 18-hole match to help Buchholz finish third as a team.

Cross Country

CARSTEN THUE-BLUDWORTH, EASTSIDE: At the Pre-State FSU Invitational, Thue-Bludworth posted the Rams' top time in the boys silver division with a 5K run of 16:44.5. Thue-Bludworth, a senior, finished 11th individually, helping Eastside to 23rd place out of 26 teams.


CAMERON GUY, GAINESVILLE: The junior All-American had a pair of individual victories against Palatka last Wednesday in the 100-yard freestyle (53.91) and the 50-yard freestyle (24.03). Guy also swam in two winning relay legs for the Hurricanes in the 200-yard medley relay (1:57.75) and the 400-yard freestyle relay (4:08.40)

Honorable mention


KATELYN VANAERNAM, DIXIE COUNTY: A sophomore setter, VanAernam helped facilitate the Bears' offense last week with 22 assists, 8 kills and 32 service points, including 9 aces. Defensively, she had 9 digs and 1 block.


CARL ALEXANDER, UNION COUNTY: The senior defensive tackle was a force inside during the undefeated Tigers' 28-14 win on Friday with 3 of his 5 tackles going for a loss, including 2 sacks. Alexander also helped keep Dixie County's air attack in-check with a pass deflection.

J.R. BASS, LAFAYETTE: A senior, Bass carried the ball 19 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns to lead Lafayette to a 30-14 road win against Hamilton.

NATHAN KOONS, OAK HALL: A senior two-way starter, Koons carried the ball 9 times for 49 yards and had 5 catches for 64 yards at fullback for the Eagles. Playing both linebacker and defensive end, he also had 7 tackles on defense.

RALPH WEBB, GAINESVILLE: Playing in only the first half of Friday at Citrus, the senior running back carried the ball 11 times for 149 yards and three touchdowns in Gainesville's 56-7 district win.

LARRY PRUNTY, GAINESVILLE: A senior running back and receiver, Prunty had 101 yards on 10 carries and a rushing score to go along with his 59 receiving yards and one touchdown catch. Prunty also made an impact on special teams with 40 return yards.


CHANDLER BLANCHET, BUCHHOLZ: The junior shot a 35 last Thursday against Forest to earn medalist honors in team victory at Ocala Municipal.


ANDREW COLEMAN, GAINESVILLE: In a meet against Palatka last Wednesday, Coleman swam to a pair of individual victories in the 200-yard freestyle (2:07.49) and in the 100-yard butterfly (1:06.65). The senior also helped the Hurricanes grab a win in the 200-yard medley relay (1:57.75).

Cross Country

AUSTIN PERRY, OAK HALL: The sophomore runner led the way for the Eagles' boys team with an 5K run of 17:58.9 to finish 18th individually Saturday at the Florida State Pre-State Invitational. Perry's run helped Oak Hall finish 12th out of 21 teams in the small school division.

ZACH LOGESON, OAK HALL: A junior, Logeson ran a season-best 5K time of 19:15.1 at the Pre-State FSU Invitational to finish 51st overall.

BRITTNEY OLINGER, OAK HALL: Running in the elite division, Ollinger led the Eagles' girls' squad to a fifth place finish out of 24 teams with a 5K time of 18:51.5. A junior, Ollinger ended the race 17th overall.

TALIA CARLSON, OAK HALL: An eighth-grader, Carlson recorded a season-low time of 20:17 in the girls' elite race to place 61st individually for the Eagles.

PETER VAN SUSTEREN, EASTSIDE: A junior, Van Susteren ran a personal-best 5K race in 19:44.7 to finish as the seventh Rams' runner to cross the line Saturday at the Pre-State FSU Invitational.

CHRISTINE PU, EASTSIDE: The junior led the Rams' girls' team with a season-best time of 21:23.9 in the small school race to finish 11th individually. Pu's high result helped Eastside crack the top 10, finishing eighth out of 19 teams.

BECCA SUGRUE, EASTSIDE: A senior, Sugrue turned in a season-best time of 22:04.3 and finished 17th overall for the Rams.

SAMANTHA ZEIGUS, COLUMBIA: The freshman placed 11th individually in the invitational division at the Pre-State FSU Invitational with a personal-best time of 20:16.8. Zeigus' finish also helped the Tigers end the meet in 11th place as a team.

JOHN DOUGHERTY, BUCHHOLZ: Running a personal-best time of 16:55.9 to finish third in the large-school division at the Pre-State FSU Invitational, Dougherty, a sophomore, led the Bobcats to a second-place result out of 18 teams.

KARSTEN PEASE, BUCHHOLZ: The sophomore runner finished sixth individually and posted a personal-best time of 17:22.9 for the Bobcats.

ALEX SMOCK, BUCHHOLZ: A freshman, Smock ran to a sixth-place finish for the Bobcats in the large school division at the Pre-State FSU Invitational with a time of 21:35.0.

ISABELLA WHELAN, BUCHHOLZ: The junior placed 11th overall with a 5k time of 22:01.0 to help the Bobcats to a sixth-place team finish.

Athletes of the week are determined by nominations from area coaches. Coaches are asked to call in every Sunday between 4-7 p.m.

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