By Dave Tomczak

NORTH MUSKEGON – The Oakridge football team made a statement to the rest of the West Michigan Conference on Thursday.

The Eagles are primed and ready to defend their league championship against all challengers, and have the weapons to do so.

Besides the first two minutes of the second half, the Eagles had no problem with a good North Muskegon team, picking up a convincing 42-14 win in the conference opener for both schools.

After a scoreless first quarter, Oakridge built a 13-0 halftime lead with long rushing touchdowns from Leroy Quinn (45 yards) and Alex Shoop (73).

The Norse, however, flipped the switch to start the second half.

No. 55 Andrew Butzow tries to chase down Oakridge running back Leroy Quinn. Photo/Tim Reilly

On the first play of the third quarter, Norse tailback Christian Brooks raced untouched for a 64-yard touchdown, and on the ensuing kickoff, Harry Mierz recovered an Oakridge fumble.

Three plays later, Brooks scored from four yards out and North Muskegon had a 14-13 lead.

“We warned the kids at halftime about (North Muskegon’s) big comeback last week,” Eagles coach Cary Harger said. “I told them they were making adjustments, and then all of a sudden we’re down.”

The Eagles recovered quickly.

On the following possession, Oakridge quarterback Koleman Wall found Shoop with a touchdown pass from 36 yards out, then connected with Austin Smith on the two-point conversion to give the Eagles a 21-14 lead.

The Eagles then turned to Quinn, their 6-0, 220-pound bruiser of a running back.

The sophomore back carried the ball 16 times from that point forward, and scored on runs of  six- and one yards.

De’Shary Warren ties up Oakridge running back Alex Shoop. Photo/Tim Reilly

“We thought getting a couple of quick scores would be a momentum swing, and we would be riding high,” North Muskegon coach Larry Witham said. “But give Oakridge credit, they didn’t panic and moved the ball down the field. We fought them hard, but they just kept pounding it down our throat.”

Blake Masterman finish off the scoring for Oakridge with a two-yard touchdown run, as the Eagles held the football for all but three plays in the fourth quarter.

Oakridge finished the game with 475 total yards, with 405 coming on the ground.

Quinn led the offense with 229 yards on 27 carries, Shoop added 93 yards and Masterson had 63. Wall completed 3 of 4 passes for 70 yards.

The Norse finished with 172 total yards and had four turnovers, compared to Oakridge’s two.

Chandler Edward led North Muskegon with 92 rushing yards and Brooks added 81.