Oak Ridge Drops Heartbreaker to College Park

Take away the first game of the season when the War Eagles were in the beginning stages of learning their system(s), and Friday night’s 27-21 overtime loss to College Park was their first real test. To say they failed the test would be unfair as the players played their tails off from top to bottom.

Towards the end of last season, it appeared as if some of the players had mailed it in. That has not carried over to this season at all. These War Eagles are going all out all the time. The difference in this game was that Oak Ridge made more costly mistakes. Oak Ridge is no longer a “make an excuse” town so full credit goes to the College Park Cavaliers. Led by their mentally and physically tough QB, Zach Wright, they deserved the victory. Wright has already faced more personal adversity in his 17 years than most 80 year olds but that’s a whole different article.

Back in the day, when Oak Ridge made excuse after excuse and never took responsibility for anything, it would have been easy to blame this loss on the referees. With time running out in the game and the War Eagles Michael Handy racing into the end zone, he fumbled right at the goal line. None the less, the side judge raised his arms signaling touchdown. The War Eagles and their faithful fans were in heaven in what looked like a sure victory. Next thing you knew, the referees were talking near the goal line and one of them walked to the 20 yard line and placed the ball down pointing the other way in signaling that it was now College Park’s ball as a result of a touchback.

Seriously? Did the one guy who had the best angle get overruled by other zebras who did not? Did they look at the screen and see something that made them change their minds? Wait a minute… did these guys institute the UIL instant replay rule all by themselves? Why did they have to choose this game to be trendsetters?

I’m sorry…that’s the “old” Oak Ridge excuse maker in me. I won’t do that again. To the game:

The first half of this game was an exercise in boredom. The offenses couldn’t get much done as both defenses were solid. It was apparent that we were watching two evenly matched teams on the field. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, hard nosed football but to the average fan it could not be considered exciting. As a matter of fact, I was hoping someone in the College Park student body would bring back Gorilla Man to liven things up. However, with CP Principal Mark Murrell stationed on the sidelines the whole game, no doubt Gorilla Man would have been sent into the 12th row with a Murrell cross body block. Looking at this principal, I am assuming at one time he was a semi-mobile offensive lineman.

The only scoring of the half came at 6:29 of the 2nd quarter when CP running back, Paco Solano ran 8 yards for a touchdown. With the kick splitting the uprights, the halftime score was 7-0.

After the long homecoming halftime, both offenses returned from being AWOL. Chris Grett tied the game up on a 9 yard keeper at 10:58 of the 3rd quarter. Martin Gonzalez added the extra point.

CP’s Zach Wright scored on a 42 yard run at 5:58. The kick was good. 14-7 CP.

Cade Cyr caught a 62 yard bomb from Grett at 4:45. On the play, Cyr caught the “jump ball” and then eluded his DB all the way to the end zone diving with the ball just barely crossing the goal line. The Gonzalez kick was good. 14-14.

War Eagle running back Jonathan Vargas made an awesome 11 yard touchdown grab at 00.00 from Grett who spiraled it the only place Vargas could have caught it. Vargas caught it as he was almost out of bounds bringing objections from CP Corner, Corey Toups. This call stuck. End 3rd quarter 21-14 Oak Ridge.

The 4th quarter brought more hard nosed football with CP providing the only scoring as Wright scored on a 1 yard run at 4:55. The kick was good and the score was tied 21-21.

Shortly thereafter, the fireworks began or perhaps it could be named “The Zebra Comedy routine” began. These guys should contact Second City TV for a possible act. They could supplement their income… kidding …really.

After the aforementioned alleged Handy fumble, Oak Ridge actually had another chance as the defense held on CP’s next possession forcing a punt. The snap was a one bouncer and punter Kyler Clark had to kneel down to get it making it a War Eagle ball on the CP 17 with 58 seconds to play. The War Eagles then lost yardage on a bad snap and even more on an intentional grounding call. Oak Ridge was now at mid-field and time expired.

After the stage was cleared by the Roadies, it was time for overtime.

Oak Ridge had the ball first. Handy ran for a quick 11 yards to the 14. Chris Grett then ran up the middle and was well on his way to paydirt when the ball slipped from his grasp and bounded out of the back of the end zone.

It was now CP’s ball at the 25. The talented Paco Salano got the call and ran through the middle breaking tackles on his way to the winning 25 yard score. Final: 27-21

Worthy of Note:

Special Teams: The Special Teams coach obviously knew what he was doing last week as the pooch kick worked all night long.

2nd Half: The War Eagles are looking more and more like a second half team scoring 21 points in the 3rd quarter alone. Give CP credit though as they played some solid D in the first half.

Defense: The D was stellar. Everybody’s making plays to include the undersized cornerbacks: Scott Corbett is making tackles and frustrating taller receivers with his tenacity. Armontrie Sneed is an absolute animal. This guy is everywhere.

Chris Grett: Chris threw an INT and fumbled but is looking more and more like a college QB every game. The talent has always been there. It appears as if the leadership is as well.

Trainers: Walking back and forth along the sidelines, I passed the trainers table quite a bit. I can see why I was scolded last week for not recognizing this group. These people are always doing something. There are no breaks either. You’re thinking halftime is a respite… wrong! Halftime is when they have to be ON the most treating players making sure they are ready to play the 2nd half. Here’s something that may not be fit for print: Sometime around the 3rd quarter, I was walking by a student trainer who was wrapping an ankle. As I walked by he leaned over to a nearby trash can and blew chunks on the spot. Yeah, Gross! You know what? He didn’t miss a beat. He went right back to taping the ankle. Man it stunk around there. You think football players are tough? I’ll go to battle with a trainer any day.

Officiating: There were several instances where the refs had to get together to make sure they were all communicating correctly and it led to the game being excessively long. Someone make a decision and stick with it. Homecoming or not, NO WAY should a high school game last until 10:50. Overtime is no excuse because minimal plays were run.

STATS:

Team

1 2 3 4 OT Total
Oak Ridge 0 0 21 0 0 21
College Park 0 7 7 7 6

27

Rushing
Oak Ridge: Grett 16-59, Handy 9-50,
CP: Solano 24-105, Wright 18-83

Passing
Oak Ridge: Grett 12-23-1- 213 yards
CP:  Wright 5-12-1-87 yards

Receiving
Oak Ridge: Thomas Macklin 4-44, Kyle Adams 3-79, Cyr 1-62, Vargas 1-11, Handy 1-11
CP: Austin Boudreaux 1-23, Kyler Clark 3-46, Kevin Byers 1-18

Team 1st downs
Oak Ridge: 17
CP: 15

Total Yards
Oak Ridge: 327
CP:     290

Penalties
Oak Ridge: 9-84
CP: 5-55

Comments to Doug Sarant at doug@oakridgenow.com
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Doug Sarant, Oak Ridge Now

Born and raised in New England, Doug promises he got to Texas as fast as he could. He earned the much needed "piece of paper" from Sam Houston State, proving to himself he could start and finish something. Doug's interests include coaching and playing any sport and still plays lacrosse competitively. He also enjoys going to dinner theaters, though he complains there just aren't enough of them in the area. Doug was brought up in a cultured environment, having suffered through dozens of symphonies and operas with his way too over-educated mother. At the end of the day, Doug is just a dad and husband and claims to be good at both.

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