By Andrew Johnson

EGELSTON TOWNSHIP – The Oakridge football program got a bit of redemption on Friday night in a 50-12 Division 5 district championship game victory over Tri County.

Before Friday, the Eagles had lost two straight district title games, and three in the past four years.

Corey Vanderputte gets up after making a play for Oakridge. Photo/Jason Goorman

They finally broke through that playoff barrier, and did it in convincing fashion.

“It feels amazing,” said junior running back Corey Vanderputte, who rushed for 211 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries. “Especially after my freshmen year, which was a tough one. Last year was too. To come out and play as well as we did and win a district title is amazing.”

With the victory, Oakridge improves to 7-2 on the season and will play Grand Rapids Catholic next weekend in the Division 5 regionals. The winner will move on to the state semifinals.

The lone score of the first quarter on Friday was a 10-yard touchdown run by Brenden Raymond, which gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead headed into the second.

On the first play of the second quarter, Vanderputte broke loose for a 50-yard touchdown run, giving Oakridge a 13-0 lead.

“They were huge,” Vanderputte said about the holes his offensive line gave him on Friday night. “Our line has been doing really well, and all props go to them.”

A Vanderputte two-yard touchdown run, followed by a six-yard TD pass from quarterback Ethen Dailey to Jacob Danicek, gave Oakridge a 28-0 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, a six-yard scoring run by Vanderputte and a successful two-point conversion stretched the Oakridge lead to 36-0 with 7:02 remaining.

Tri County responded with a 61-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Tompkins to Braden Hallman to cut the Eagles’ lead to 36-6 with 6:17 left in the third quarter.

The Vikings then scored on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Tompkins to Cameron Friend, which made the score 36-12 after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, Dailey found Brayden Rhanor on a 28-yard touchdown pass, then Vanderputte wrapped things up with a 75-yard scoring run.

Dailey totaled 65 rushing yards on nine attempts while also totaling 87 yards and two touchdowns on 5-of-8 passing. 

Ethan Jozsa led the Oakridge defense with 10 tackles, including one sack, while Luke Martin and Gage Lamadline each added eight tackles. Dailey also had an interception for the Eagles.

“It feels great,” said Oakridge head coach Cary Harger about capturing the elusive district title and continuing the Eagles’ season. “I’m excited for the kids. We had this as a goal all week and talked about it. This was their goal and they needed to claim their medal, which they did.”