Football coaches always talk about the importance of their players' participation in summer workouts.

But Union Coach Brad Breland says with his team's lack of experience, it's a lot more important for the Yellowjackets as they get ready for the 2014 season.

"We have a lot of people who have played but not in starting roles," Breland said. "We are lifting weights three times a week and the participation has been pretty good so far.

"A couple of weeks ago, we hosted a NFL high school camp. Philadelphia, Leake Central and Lake came and we had about 150 participants. It provided a lot of individual instruction for our players and I feel like we got a lot out of it. At the end, we play 7-on-7 games and did well against other teams."

The Yellowjackets have seven starters returning but they are going to be young in the backfield. Tradarius Harris was the backup quarterback last season and is a leading candidate to take over the position. Also working at quarterback will be Davon Hickman. The returning running backs have some playing experience but none have started, according to Breland.

"They are going to have to step up and get ready to play," Breland said.

Union does have some returning starters on the offensive line. That includes Chris Smith, J.T. Gardener, Hunter Little, Connor Breland, Marvin Norris and Quidarian Jackson.

There are five starters returning on defense. That includes defensive linemen Ryan Baysinger, linebackers Marvin Norris and Jackson, and defensive backs Laviel Wells and Harris.

The Yellowjackets will play a jamboree game August 16 at Lake against Newton County. They open at home August 22 against Nanih Waiya.

Union plays in the tough Region 5-2A along with Enterprise, Clarkdale, Lake, Scott Central and Newton High School.

"Overall, it is always a tough district," Breland said. "I look for Lake and Scott Central to be the teams to beat, but we are going to work hard and try to be in the running, too."

Union Yellowjackets
2014 football schedule

Aug. 15 vs. Newton County in Lake Jamboree
Aug. 22 - Nanih Waiya
Aug. 29 - at Choctaw Central
Sept. 5 - Sebastopol
Sept. 12 - at Choctaw County
Sept. 19 - at Leake Central
Sept. 26 - Madison St. Joseph
Oct. 3 - Enterprise *
Oct. 10 - at Clarkdale *
Oct. 17 - Scott Central *
Oct. 24 - at Lake *
Oct. 31 - Newton High School *