By Steve Gunn
EGELSTON TOWNSHIP – The remaining opponents on the Oakridge football schedule have been put on notice.
Luttrull, a junior quarterback, connected with Cooper, a senior wideout, for six touchdown passes Friday, giving Oakridge a stunning 45-26 victory over defending state champion Muskegon Catholic in front of a big opening night crowd at Russell Erickson Stadium.
They weren’t the only heroes in the potent Eagle passing attack. Jaegar Beattie caught six passes for 72 yards while Nate Wahr snagged five passes for 70 yards.
Kolin Chahorski added some valuable yards on the ground, rushing for 61 yards on 14 carries.
“That’s what I do – I set my bar up high, that’s all I have to say,” said Cooper, who added that he had never caught more than three touchdowns in a game before Friday. “It was for our team. We have a bond. We work together and hope to win.”
Cooper said he’s been working out all summer with Luttrull and the two of them have developed a special bond on the field.
“I love (Luttrull),” Cooper said. “He’s amazing. He’s the best quarterback I’ve ever had.”
Oakridge Coach Cary Harger said he knew his team’s receiving corps would be an important weapon this season.
“We’ve felt comfortable with our passing game since last year,” Harger said. “All those guys who were young are ready and chomping at the bit to show what they have got.
“Looking at our receivers, they are taller than they ever have been and very athletic. With (Luttrull) working with that group since last year, they know they can trust him and he knows he can trust them.”
Overall Oakridge had a 315-58 advantage in passing and 396-292 edge in total offense.
The performance was a far cry from last year’s opener, when Oakridge was drubbed by Grand Rapids West Catholic, another defending state champion.
“Our kids had an air about them this week,” said Harger, whose team plays Detroit Loyola, another defending state champion, next week. “They weren’t intimidated about back-to-back state championships.
“I could tell they were excited. They were just ready to go. They had another level about them today we hadn’t seen. They just played very, very well.”
The loss was painful for the Crusaders, who had won two straight Division 8 state titles and 26 straight games. MCC was tied with Orchard View for the longest modern day winning streak in Muskegon County history, and now the tie will remain intact.
MCC actually had a far better rushing game than Oakridge, gaining 234 yards compared to 81 for the Eagles.
Logan Helton led the way for the Crusaders with 140 yards on 21 carries, but it wasn’t nearly enough to offset the Eagles’ potent passing game.
Oakridge went to work early, leaving a large crowd of visiting fans fans stunned by grabbing a 31-0 halftime lead.
It started on the opening drive, when Oakridge went 63 yards on 10 plays, culminating in a five-yard scoring strike from Luttrull to Cooper.
Oakridge struck again on its next possession with a four-yard scoring toss from Luttrull to Cooper, with the PAT making the score 14-0.
MCC fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Beattie recovered on the Crusader 31. Three plays later Luttrull threw a 24-yard touchdown strike to Cooper, and the extra point made it 21-0.
Muskegon Catholic drove the Oakridge 4-yard-line on its next possession, but an unsportsmanlike conduct call pushed the ball back to the 25. The drive stalled with an incomplete pass into the end zone on fourth and long.
Oakridge took the ball and drove 80 yards on 10 plays, capped by a three-yard touchdown throw from Luttrull to Cooper.
Beattie intercepted a pass on the following MCC possession and returned it 30 yards, giving the Eagles the ball at the Crusader 27.
Greg Garcia followed with a 27-yard field goal just before halftime, giving Oakridge a 31-0 lead.
MCC played better in the second half. Helton scored on runs of 14, 11 and 3 yards and LaTommy Scott added a seven-yard touchdown run.
Oakridge answered with touchdown passes of 27 and 30 yards from Luttrull to Cooper.