Air Consol Slices Through War Eagle Defense, Hands Ridge First Loss

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Photo courtesy of Jim Eastin

Quarterback Kobe Miller and Air Consol touched down on Moorhead Stadium on Friday night to rain passing TD’s on the previously unbeaten Oak Ridge War Eagles (7-1, 3-1) showing the home team just what a top tier 5A football team looks like. A last minute Oak Ridge touchdown by way of a Braden Letney to Riley McKnight 33 yard scoring strike made the final score look respectable, 41-23 as Oak Ridge fought tooth and nail to the very last second.

A&M Consolidated (6-2, 4-1) turned a close halftime score of 14-10 into a route as four of Miller’s five TD passes came in the second half to include three in a row on their first three possessions of the second half. Derrick Dick was the recipient of the initial TD of 15 yards and Kerry Thomas absorbed 32 and 40 yard Miller aerial’s in order as Air Consol outscored the War Eagles 20-0 in the third quarter.

The game started out much the same way the second half did as the Tigers from College Station scored twice in the first 5:19 of the game on a Brandon Jackson 29 yard run and Dick hauled in a 37 yard Miller missile in taking a 14-0 lead.

The partisan Oak Ridge crowd had seen the War Eagles start slowly before so the two quick visiting scores had no influence on their enthusiasm level. Their team had climbed out of holes before.

Have no fear, the War Eagles were at it again as less than two minutes later Letney ran the pigskin in from 27 yards and Oak Ridge was in business.

The Oak Ridge offense’s success seemed to motivate the defense as they held the Tigers scoreless for the rest of the first half. The War Eagles even won the second quarter 3-0 on the strength of Patrick Coale’s leg as he was dead solid perfect from 35 yards out with 1:07 remaining in the second quarter.

Oak Ridge had won the battle of the second quarter and headed into the locker room with momentum even though they were down 14-10.

Unfortunately,  Oak Ridge’s momentum did not carry over to the second half as the Kobe Miller show was about to begin.

A&M Consolidated racked up 26 first downs and 465 total yards with 122 coming by way of the ground and 343 by way of Miller’s arm.

Oak Ridge won the battle on the ground in grinding out 214 tough yards and 158 through the air totaling 372 yards overall. Letney was 20-144 on the ground. Kwame Etwi was 8-33, McKnight 2-21 and Edwards 5-14 including a TD on a one yard plunge late in the game.

Consolidated’s Brandon Jackson took team rushing honors with nine carries for 78 yards.

Letney was 9-17-1 through the air for 158 yards and one passing TD. Miller was 23-27 for 343 yards and five TD’s.

Ridge’s McKnight caught three balls for 69 yards and a TD and Colin Brimberry caught one pass for 41 yards.

The War Eagles travel to Lufkin next Friday in a huge District 14-5A tilt, as Lufkin just won their first district game on Friday night over College Park.

WORTHY OF NOTE: 

LEGIT 5A TEAM? The question in regards to how Oak Ridge stands up presently against top flight 5A competition was answered on Friday night. Because we take pride in not only being as positive as possible and telling it like it is…good or bad, to be brutally honest Oak Ridge has a lot of work to do because it gets just as tough next week against Lufkin and much tougher against The Woodlands to finish up the season. Don’t be fooled by Lufkin’s record either because they are real good. They’ve been a big time program for a long time and schedule ridiculous pre-district opponents. Right now, that is paying off for Lufkin in spades. Why? Because when you go to Funkytown next week you’re not only playing a good team, you are playing against other elements as well. Don’t expect Oak Ridge to go in there and get any calls from the zebra’s whatsoever. Our team will be up against it big time. Let’s put it bluntly: If Oak Ridge goes to Lufkin and wins it will be the biggest victory in War Eagle history. The good news? They’ve already done that this year so why not keep doing it?

Here’s a promise: If Oak Ridge wins next week in Lufkin, the drinks are on me at any Lufkin drinking establishment you want. One catch though… Someone is paying for hotels for all 3000 of you because ain’t nobody driving home under the influence. If you are offended by reading what I just wrote, I’m just kidding. [Editor’s note: there are not enough hotel rooms in Lufkin to hold 3000 people, and well, who really wants to spend a night in a Lufkin hotel room anyway?. Let’s bring some designated drivers to Friday’s game.]

For the rest of you… SHHHH… I’m really not so lets kick some Funkytown butt and have a great time.

INJURY EXCUSE: Yeah, we were missing some key players Friday night, including Clayton Grett, who is arguably the best linebacker in the district. After the game, in walking out to the Moorhead Stadium parking lot last night, along the way I heard the injury excuse being batted around by some of us Oak Ridge fans. You can be banged up and still win big football games. Could Oak Ridge have beaten Air Consol with everyone at full strength? You saw the game… you answer that. Did you ever consider they’ve had the same amount of games as Oak Ridge this season and are probably dealing with injury issues as well? Guess what? We suffered even more last night. NO EXCUSES! The team will eventually rise to the top of the 5A crop and not once will you hear anyone on that team make an excuse along the way. They aren’t so we shouldn’t.

DEPTH: Let’s not kid ourselves, right now we have speed, size and athleticism and are enjoying the best season in Oak Ridge 5A history. The only problem with last night is the other team had more speed, size and athleticism. They did! Right now, our War Eagles are UP for an Oak Ridge football team. There have been down Oak Ridge years and UP Oak Ridge years and this is certainly and UP one. For the rest of the season and the playoffs, our team will be playing teams that are “5A UP”. There’s a huge difference between Oak Ridge UP and 5A UP. Agreed? We know one thing for sure – the players will be going 100% every second of the game because that’s just how they operate. What’s more is they will operate with class and sportsmanship. State championship or not, these players and coaches will be able to look in the mirror at the end of the season (whenever that is) and be happy with what they see.

COLLIN BRIMBERRY: Randy Newman was just flat-out wrong. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Randy Newman, he came out with a song in the 70’s titled, “Short People (Got No Reason to Live)”. Kiss my arse, Randy Newman. Way to go Collin Brimberry! Nice 41 yard reception. His baseball hand-eye coordination is a bonus. It’s not easy out there being the smallest player. Does it make a difference to this dude? Nope! You can play if you have a big heart and big… well… they’re located a little ways down the body and that’s as far as I’m taking it.

BRADEN LETNEY: Letney was good last year and showed poise playing a leadership position being four-five years younger than a lot of his teammates. Look at the progress he has made in how he leads the team, how he runs plays and just his overall generalship. His option reads are solid and when he keeps the ball his strength is huge. Did you see him straight arm a would-be tackler last night straight to the ground? Very seldom will you see one guy tackling him.

JUSTIN EDWARDS: Dozier continues to be useful in short yardage situations. If he doesn’t get the ball, he’s a load that can block.

ANDREW BURKE: We’re not exactly sure how often Burke is used but with 2:52 left in the game, he made a good tackle behind the line. It appears as if Oak Ridge has a convocation of War Eagle linebackers so if the injury bug hits that position (it has), they have depth there.

KICKING GAME/SPECIAL TEAMS: Usually, this is the strongest, most consistent unit on the team. Patrick Coale had an off night punting the ball. What is good about Coale is he kicks and punts so he can make up for a bad kick or a shanked punt pretty quickly in a game so he isn’t down for long. He did drill a 35 yard FG. We saw him after the two punts that were way below his personal standards. Right after them, he was immediately at the net trying to make adjustments. The punter/kicker position is a major HEAD game. Most of it is mental because you’ve seen Coale punt bombs in succession this year. He knows how to do it so now he has to win the HEAD game part of it. Also on special teams, Riley McKnight continues to run back punts like a pro.

A&M CONSOLIDATED: Towards the end of the game, the Tigers committed two late hits way out of bounds. They were up by almost 30 points so the coaches need to be on these guys to play with class. No one expects the players to stop playing… just play with class and not like punks in those situations. They took a knee towards the end of the game so that earned them some points but you’re supposed to be doing that anyway.

CHEERLEADERS: Varsity Cheer coach Sarah Parker invites the junior high cheerleaders to one game a year and the A&M game was the one for 2013. They did an awesome job, don’t you think? The Irons Cheer coach is Kristine Neal and York’s is Trisha Brown. Great job ladies!!!

ORHS BAND MUSICIAN OF THE WEEK: Did you know the Oak Ridge Band has an instrument called a “Gong”? Well, Stone Raines plays the gong and he is our weekly winner! The dude plays a GONG!!! How cool is that? I asked him if he knew Chuck Barris of “The Gong Show” fame and he looked at me as if to say…”Wow, it must suck getting old.” Do all bands have a gong player? Raines gets the award every week for as long as he is in school. Of course, we will have one other winner every week but without fail, rest assured knowing you will be seeing Stone’s name in the weekly Oak Ridge Now article for as long as he plays the gong!!! [Another Editor’s note: What? No T Rex reference?]

MAYOR JIM KUYKENDALL: The Mayor of Oak Ridge North does the announcing and we must say… he’s pretty good. As long as whoever is up there isn’t trying to do the play by play. I hear some people doing that and it sounds painful. Plus, sometimes they’re giving away information… as in… “uh oh, looks like a bubble screen is coming”. Jim isn’t guilty of this but some are and they need to just announce who ran the ball, who made the tackle, what down and yards to go and sell the people who buy advertising and then shut the heck up. Jim’s Cool! Why? Because you’d never know he is a politician. I don’t know about you but that’s how I judge that profession. Don’t act like you’re in it and I’m fine with you.

WHAT’S  NEXT? You wanna know what’s next? Lufkin is what’s next. Let’s move on and chalk up the A&M Consolidated game as a learning and growing experience. There will be a time when Oak Ridge is 5A UP and they are 5A down. We’ll get ours so don’t you worry about that.

See you in Lufkin!

Comments to Doug Sarant at 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 Chuck Briese and Jim Eastin. As usual, the 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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