BIG STONE GAP, Va. – The transformation of Union football player Zavier Lomax continues.
As a freshman, Lomax was a lineman who struggled to find a comfort zone with his weight and strength.
Four years later, the 5-foot-10, 203-pound Lomax is one of the most dominant and strongest athletes in far Southwest Virginia.
In Friday’s Mountain 7 District showdown against Ridgeview at Bullitt Park, Lomax accounted for 182 yards rushing and three scores as Union earned a 28-21 win over the Wolfpack.
“It took a lot of work to reach this point,” said Lomax, who dedicated the victory to his late mother. “I was a lineman all up to my freshman year, then I started running hills and hitting the weight room.”
The strength, endurance and quickness of Lomax was evident Friday as he pounded out yards off tackle and outran defenders on sweeps. Lomax said he can bench press 335 pounds.
The Lomax success story is more impressive when you consider that he missed his sophomore season due to a broken ankle.
“I had to work even harder after that, but I got after it and stayed after it,” Lomax said.
Union coach Travis Turner refers to Lomax as a weight room warrior who has sacrificed for his success.
“Zavier is always working to get better,” Turner said. “He loves football, and he’s our team captain for a reason.”
With its offensive line punching out holes, Union built a 14-0 lead at halftime behind a 45-yard run from 6-4 quarterback Bradley Bunch and a 1-yard Lomax score following a 39-yard punt return from Malachi Jenkins.
“Once Bradley gets going, he’s faster than you think,” Turner said.
The show was just getting started and Ridgeview quarterback Ryan 0’Quinn delivered in a big way.
The calm freshman threw for 257 yards and converted all sorts of big plays with his feet and savvy.
After Lomax blasted through multiple tacklers en route to a 71-yard score with 8:17 left in the game, O’Quinn led his team on a long drive that culminated with a 1-yard run by Cannon Hill with 2:13 left.
That cut the Union lead to 28-21, but the Bears recovered the onside kick and held on from there.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Ridgeview coach Todd Tiller said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times on defense early in the game, and we had trouble getting a first down.”
Ridgeview found its groove with a 73-yard scoring strike to Brandon Beavers in the opening minute of the second half.
O’Quinn and Lomax traded big plays the remainder of the game.
“Ryan doesn’t get rattled and he did get excellent job,” Tiller said. “Lomax is just a special running back, and he made a big play there with that final score. Union is the best team in the region, and this shows what we have to do to reach that level.”
So how did Lomax emerge from the interior of the line for his decisive 71-yard score. It started with crunching blocks from running back Johnny Satterfield and left tackle Ethan Mabe.
“We rep that play a lot in practice,” Lomax said. “It came down to power and hitting the defense in the mouth.”
Jenkins added an interception and quality work at safety, in addition to booming two kickoffs in the end zone.
Lomax carried the ball 28 times and also played well on defense. And he was still strong at the end.
“I love football and I want to play at the college level,” said Lomax, who said he has received an offer to play at Morehead State along with two NCAA Division II schools. “We expected this to be a four-quarter game, so we just had to keep pounding.”
Ridgeview 0 0 7 14-21
Union 0 14 7 7-28
U – Bunch 45 run (Wharton kick)
U – Lomax 1 run (Wharton kick)
R – Beavers 73 pass from O’Quinn (Goodman kick)
U – Lomax 2 run (Wharton kick)
R – Hill 1 run (Goodman kick)
U – Lomax 71 run (Wharton kick)
R – Hill 1 run (Goodman kick)
First Downs: R 9, U 12; Rushes-Yards: R 30-35, U 40-276; Passing Yards: R 257, U 47; Comp.-Att.-Int: R 16-26-2, U 4-4-0; Fumbles-Lost: R 2-0, U 1-1; Penalties-Yards: R 6-60, U 7-80; Punts-Average: R 4-38, U 2-39
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