By Andrew Johnson
EGELSTON TOWNSHIP – The Oakridge offensive line showed that it’s ready for a deep postseason run in the Eagles’ 38-7 pounding of North Muskegon in a Division 5 pre-district game.
The Eagles piled up 371 rushing yards on 58 carries, which totaled a 6.39 yard per carry average.
Oakridge coach Cary Harter said those numbers were a testament to the guys up front.
“Our goal for the last few weeks has been to establish ourselves at the line of scrimmage,” Harger said. “We forced the offensive line to be more aggressive, and they’ve done a great job, which showed tonight.”
Of course the Oakridge running backs also had something to do with the success of the ground game.
Alex Shoop led the attack with 111 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries, while teammate Leroy Quinn totaled 109 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries.
Blake Masterman added 50 yards on eight carries for a 6.2 average.
“We have three big threats in the backfield,” said Harger about his three-back attack. “It’s really huge for us. Leroy is a great power runner, Shoop is smooth, and Masterman is a little guy but a power runner in the middle.”
While the scoreboard indicated an easy Oakridge victory at the end of the night, things didn’t start out so great for the Eagles.
Oakridge looked to be on its way to scoring on the opening drive before a fumble inside the North Muskegon 20 turned the ball over.
North Muskegon then drove 85 yards on five plays and took a 7-0 lead when Quarterback Jesse Cooke floated a shovel pass to De’Shary Warren, who dashed 30 yards for a touchdown.
North Muskegon held that lead through the end of the first quarter. Then Oakridge got going.
Shoop scored his first touchdown of the night from three yards out with 8:58 remaining in the first half to tie the game 7-7.
After forcing a three-and-out, Oakridge wasted no time scoring again. With 6:10 remaining in the second quarter, Shoop plunged in from six yards out, then added a two-point conversion, giving Oakridge a 15-7 lead.
The Oakridge offense wasn’t done. With 1:13 remaining in the second quarter, Quinn scored an eight-yard touchdown, and Shoop caught a two-point conversion pass from Koleman Wall, to give the Eagles a 23-7 lead at halftime.
The lone third quarter touchdown was scored by Shoop from two-yards out, giving Oakridge a 29-7 lead. Jaxon Fri tagged on a 21-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 32-7 advantage after three quarters.
Shoop capped off the scoring with his fourth rushing touchdown from one-yard out with 8:40 left in the contest.
“I think we all love it,” said Shoop about the ability of any Oakridge back to have a big game. “We always help each other out, and when one guy gets a big run we celebrate. We also block for each other, which is how we get our runs.”
“But I can’t thank my line enough for what they did this week. They gave us great looks.”
North Muskegon, which finished the season 6-4 overall, was led by Cooke with 66 yards passing while Anthony Oviedo and Jacob Achterhoff each had 12 tackles.
Brandon Wilde led the Oakridge defense with 11 tackles on the night.
Oakridge will host Grant next week in the Division 5 district finals. The two teams met last season in the first round of the playoffs, when Oakridge won 41-7.
“First thing we talk about is we’re going to see a lot of spread from them, and we have to make sure we’re balanced out really well and our defensive line gets pressure,” Harger said about Grant.