By Mitchell Boatman
ALMA – The Oakridge football team faced enough of a challenge on Saturday against Ithaca, which has won state championships five out of the last six seasons, and hasn’t lost a game since the 2014 state finals.
The Eagles only trailed by seven points midway through the second quarter when Luttrull ran for six yards and suffered an ankle injury. He had to be carried off the field and didn’t return.
Ithaca broke loose after that, claiming a 47-6 victory and a Division 5 district championship at Alma College. Oakridge, the champion of the West Michigan Conference, finished with a 9-2 record.
“That got us in a bad spot pretty quick,” said Oakridge Coach Cary Harger about Luttrull’s injury. “He’s a great athlete for us, a playmaker. He has a lot of heart and soul into this team.”
Harger said the injury affected the whole team.
“When the guys saw that happen, it took a little air out of them, took the wind out of their sails.”
Ithaca got the scoring started a minute and a half into the second quarter on a 62-yard pass from Joey Bentley to Trey Chapin. The extra point was blocked, leaving the Yellowjackets with a 6-0 edge.
Oakridge didn’t trail for long. On the next play from scrimmage, running back Blake Masterman broke free from a group of would-be tacklers, lost his shoe, and still manage to rip off a 73-yard touchdown romp to even the score at 6-6.
Ithaca regained the lead on a 1-yard score by Bentley with 6:03 left in the first half. Luttrull went down less than a minute later, tipping the scales in Ithaca’s favor.
Oakridge focused on running the ball after the injury, but to no avail. The Eagles struggled to find holes to run through and fumbled several snaps in the second half.
“We know they were going to bring a lot of people,” Harger said about the Ithaca defense. “Trying to get time to block their pressure was tough.”
Ithaca added two more scores before halftime to blow the game open. Bentley threw two touchdowns, one to Devin Barnes and one to Seth Davis, and the Yellowjackets led 27-6 at the half.
Bentley tossed three more touchdown passes in the second half to bring the score to 47-6. Davis, Colton Campbell and Barnes caught the scoring passes.
Despite the loss, Harger said he was proud of his team.
“Their work ethic this year was tremendous,” he said. “They should be very, very proud of themselves.
“With the number of underclassmen on this team, that’s got to say a lot about the talent that we still have coming through. We’re looking forward to the future.”
Before the injury, Luttrull was 4-for-5 through the air for 56 yards and ran for 22 yards on the ground. Blake Masterman led the Eagles with 129 total yards and the teams’ lone score. Alex Shoop had nine tackles and Jake Groendal recorded one and a half sacks.
Bentley was the driving force for Ithaca. He completed 23 of 28 passes for 377 yards and six touchdowns, and added 68 yards and a score on the ground. Chapin had 152 receiving yards, while Davis added 128 and Barnes had 74.