Union Local boys move into No. 1 spot

MORRISTOWN – The Union Local Jets have risen to the top of the rankings.

And that’s not just the Buckeye 8 or OVAC Class 4A rankings, either.

Coach Ben Porter’s 14-0 Jets took over the top spot in the Associated Press Division III Ohio State Poll, which was released Monday evening.

The Jets accumulated 10 of the 22 first-place votes issued and finished with 186 points, which is 35 more than Beachwood.

“We look at it as an honor, but we realize there’s quite a bit of season left to go,” Porter said. “For (media) to view you in that regard is a credit to the kids and their hardwork.”

The Jets have been listed in the poll in each of the three polls released previously. They started at eighth and have been on the climb ever since.

“Our program has a philosophy and value of being humble,” Porter said. “We feel strong leaders are people who value humility and we try to teach that to our kids.”

The Jets, whose scheduled visit to Indian Creek this evening has been postponed because of the weather, are slated to visit Buckeye Local on Thursday and welcome a red-hot Martins Ferry squad to Morristown Friday evening.

“We had a couple of days off of practice (because of the weather), but we got back in the gym (Monday) and we’re hoping to get back on the court Thursday and Friday,” Porter said. “We don’t expect anything less than two tough games.”

The ranking and bullseye on their back won’t affect how Union Local prepares and approaches each game as the season moves into the stretch run. On top of the ranking, the Jets are the last undefeated team in Division III of the Buckeye State.

“We take things in perspective,” Porter said. “We’ve had some close games, so that, in and of itself, keeps you on your toes. These kids have continued to challenge themselves to get better.”

Just last Friday, the Jets had to hang on for a 48-45 victory at Edison. Earlier in the season, it survived at Bellaire in overtime.

“Most of our games have very competitive,” Porter said.

“We’re not looking past anyone and we’re preparing just the same. We expect a battle every time we take the court. We respect all of our opponents and I think the Ohio Valley has some of the best coaches, who prepare their teams well.”