War Eagles Go to 4-0, Roll Over Aldine Nimitz 59-21

Photo courtesy of Jim Eastin

Photo courtesy of Jim Eastin

Sophomore quarterback, Braden Letney called his own number four times and threw in a scoring pass to lead the Oak Ridge War Eagles over the outmatched Aldine Nimitz Cougars (2-2) Saturday night, 59-21 before 8,357 fans at Woodforest Bank Stadium. The victory was the fourth straight week Oak Ridge had avenged a 2012 loss.

The win marked the first time since 2007 that Oak Ridge (4-0) has started a season with four straight victories. The 2007 team proceeded to lose six games in a row and to all appearances, it looks like this Oak Ridge team will keep on rolling further proving to themselves that this year’s team is the best football team in Oak Ridge High School history.

It wasn’t the Braden Letney show under center all night long as senior Jacob Norton woke up his War Eagles after Nimitz had tallied first on their initial possession when quarterback Jon Banks hit a speedy Floyd Allen with a 33 yard scoring pass with 5:15 gone in the first quarter. On Oak Ridge’s next possession Letney got picked off and the War Eagle defense was ready for redemption.

The defense did come through in stopping Nimitz on a fourth down and a foot, making way for the Oak Ridge offense, who needed to redeem themselves as well. (Lost money on that one… see “Worthy of Note” remarks at end of article)

Enter Norton, who led the War Eagles to the Cougars 45 yard line on the strength of a 15 yard pass to Lamar Handy. On the next play Norton optioned and ran 30 yards downfield. Handy eventually ended the successful drive with a nifty 15 yard touchdown run as Oak Ridge tied the score after the successful Patrick Coale extra point, 7-7 with 3:04 left in the first stanza.

Little did everyone in attendance know, the game was about to become a blowout. To end the first quarter, Letney showed his 6.7 (60 yard dash) baseball speed racing home for a TD with 37 seconds left in the quarter. Coale’s kick was good and it was 14-7.

Letney helped distance the War Eagles even further with one and five yard runs and successful Coale XP’s making the score 28-7 at the half.

All in attendance were wondering if Dr Jeckyl or Mr Hyde would emerge from the Oak Ridge locker room for the third quarter, as last week’s tough overtime victory over Stratford, after squandering a 22 point halftime lead, was still looming in the back of 8357 minds.

They needn’t have worried, as with four minutes gone in the third quarter Demarcus Durst outran everybody with a 62 yard sprint to paydirt and the route was on, 35-7 after Coale’s XP.

Oak Ridge’s dream game took a back seat when the War Eagles had Nimitz’s Martinez Syria pinned inside their own five yard line, only to let him bounce off the pile take it around left end for 95 yards; the Oak Ridge defense wasn’t smiling any more and the lead was cut to 35-14. Second year coach Dereck Rush was none too pleased with that play after the game telling the Courier’s Michael Taylor of his displeasure.

“We made mistakes,” Rush said. “That long run down there, that 95-yarder, that’s in my mind right now. We have to line up correctly. We have to tackle better.”

Aldine’s big play didn’t phase the War Eagles one bit, as they scored twice in the last four and a half minutes on a Letney to Durst seven yard scoring pass and an Etwi eight yard run; it was 49-14 after three quarters of play.

At 11:04 of the final quarter Letney took the ball in from nine yards making it 56-14. Junior kicker Axel Baron spelled Coale for the extra point, making good on his opportunity. Then Nimitz’s Syria continued on with his impromptu personal track meet running for an 86 yard score, making the score 56-21.

Patrick Coale tacked on a 37 yard field goal which concluded all scoring.

Letney led Oak Ridge rushing with 83 yards followed by Handy and Etwi, both with 77 yards, Durst’s 66, Norton’s 51, Marcus Mitchell’s 51, and Justin Edwards 42. George Stephenson also had one rush for 21 of the most exciting yards of the evening,

Nimitz’s Syria ran for 257 yards on sixteen carries with two of the carries totaling 181 yards.

In the air, Aldine’s Banks was 7-15-1 for sixty four yards. For Oak Ridge, Letney was 5-9-1 for 28 yards and Norton was a perfect 4-4 again with 27 yards.

Nimitz had 339 total yards and Oak Ridge a whopping 525 with 470 coming on the ground.

Demarcus Durst caught three balls for 18 yards. Jarmarqus Durst had two for 16. Handy one for 15, Riley McKnight had one for four, Michael Angeletti and Edwards each had one for a yard apiece.

Floyd Allen caught two for 36 yards in leading Nimitz in that category.

WORTHY OF NOTE:

For those of you who have been around for at least ten years, let’s not kid ourselves and agree that this team is the best Oak Ridge football team in that time. ALSO…seeing as Oak Ridge was 4A before that, we can safely say of ALL TIME.

No disrespect to former head coach, Roger Holtkamp who was here when the school was 4A as he had some real good teams and even took one of them to the final four. Coach Bob Barrett also led some good War Eagle teams, but these 2013 kids are bigger and the area has expanded, so we are now getting more athletes. It’s a good time to be a War Eagle.

Will these kids get big heads by reading their press clippings? Not a chance! Rush and his coaches wouldn’t allow it and have already told their players they have a long way to go if they want to be considered a legitimate 5A playoff team.

In case you forgot, in Coach Rush’s first year, the team was given the Sportsmanship Award. Basically, it means his teams play with class. Last year, in suffering through a 1-9 season, the team will take anything they can get. This year, while winning their first four games you have not even once seen a kid talk trash to the other team. They win with class and lose with class proving you can win and lose but still act the same way regardless.

With all of this football stuff aside, no matter what else the War Eagles do this year on the field, you know they will never embarrass themselves or the fans. Case in point, senior O-lineman, Grant Homrighouse and his Nimitz nemesis were beating the crap out of each other all night long. It didn’t stop Grant from picking up his opponent’s helmet and handing it to him after he helped in knocking off. There’ some mutual respect in the interior line and you should focus on them for a few series. You’ll like what you see. What goes on in the interior line stays in the interior line so you’ve got to watch them for yourself.

BTW, last year’s 1-9 looks worse than it really is and anyone with any type of a positive sports IQ knows this team was in every game except the Lufkin debacle. They could just as easily have been a .500 team but they were just barely overmatched in eight of the nine losses. So, if you know football and sports in general, the 4-0 start this year is not a shocker.

Junior Justin Edwards is a virtual bulldozer. I’m dating myself here but if you ever see footage of former Minnesota Vikings running back, DJ Dozier, you’ll see what I mean. They both are real quick with some speed but also go through people.

The smallest player on the team is Collin Brimberry, so as a fellow height challenged person, it’s good to see him get in once in a while. He caught a pass and gained another 15 yards only to have it called back because of a penalty. Whoever is responsible for the penalty should be suspended from school!!

Marcus Mitchell was in on a play that you just don’t like to see. Marcus collided with a Nimitz runner and received a gash that created a blood gusher not advisable to be seen by those with weak stomachs. The Nimitz player got it even worse as he was carted off the field and taken to a hospital. We hope he is OK and will report his progress soon. Next thing you know, Mitchell is back in the game gaining yardage with a well prepared first aid job by our magnificent War Eagle training staff.

Oak Ridge was fortunate to get a quality move-in player from Maryland in the spring time. His name is Tyler Tullos, a junior linebacker from the Annapolis area of Maryland. Tullos gets in the game on some defensive packages and, seeing as Clayton Grett will unfortunately be out for a week or two, he should be a fixture at linebacker in that time. I asked him what he thought of his team, teammates and football in general in Texas as compared to high school football in Maryland.

“I’m having a lot of fun and definitely the most fun I’ve ever had playing football. We have a very strong bond on this team and everyone looks out for each other. We fight for our brothers. With the success we are having, it’s tough not to have fun. Coming from up north, we didn’t have an athletic period and didn’t put in the work we do here. It’s a whole different game here and it takes up just about all of your time. I wouldn’t call it a game or hobby any more because it’s more like a full time job. Everyone in the community supports us and we have a lot of people watching us. It’s a lot different than having just a few local papers writing an article. The atmosphere here is different and the talent a lot better and we put in so much more work. The game is more advanced here and I like it.”

For those who don’t know, Tullos is an even better lacrosse player and is more than likely going to be a scholarship lacrosse player if he decides to pursue it. He helps me with goalies and I’ve never had a better helper. This kid is constantly moving giving advice and encouragement and always positive. That work ethic and attitude is starting to pay dividends for him on the football field.

Shout out to Riley Mullis, who plays the vibraphone for the Oak Ridge HS marching band. I was watching Mullis and his fellow vibraphone members and they are very amazing. I compare everything to sports and if these guys ever get sick of playing that thing, I could make them into good lacrosse goalies as quick as their hands are.

It was Senior night and every single senior who is in any organization relating to a football game was singled out and I thought the announcer was gonna get lockjaw. Congrats to all senior flag runners, football players, cheer, band, color guard, Liberty Belles, honor guard, and I am sorry if I missed anybody but I am now just paying for being hit in the head way too many times growing up.

Clayton Grett suffered an injury making a tackle early in the game. He’ll see Dr. Coupe early Monday morning to see if he has bruised or broken ribs. It’s no surprise he said he could still play.

Last thing… I have a confession to make… just before that 4th and inches when Oak Ridge stopped Nimitz, I told one of the yearbook photographers I’d give her 100 dollars if we made that stop. It was at a time in the game where people were still thinking Nimitz was going to give Oak Ridge trouble. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be above board to hand over 100 bucks to a high school kid so I’ll just make a donation to Sarah Parker’s yearbook department. I apologize if anyone out there thinks I am being a bad influence. I am sorry and it won’t happen again. Now lighten up!

See you next week for the Bryan game!

Comments to doug@oakridgenow.com

If you weren’t able to make Friday night’s game, here are some photos that capture the festivities. these are courtesy of Jim Eastin and Chuck Briese. The really good ones are from Mr. Eastin.

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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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