LocalSportsJournal.comThe Oakridge Eagles are one of a handful of area football teams sporting a 3-0 record.
In fact, it’s been a common occurrence over the years to see the Eagles undefeated during the early stages of the season.
But Friday night will be another tough test for the Eagles when they travel to Montague to take on the Division 6 defending state champions and the West Michigan Conference champs.
Montague comes into Friday evening’s contest with a 2-1 record overall, 2-0 in the WMC. Montague fell to Edwardsburg in the season opener.
Oakridge is led by veteran head coach, Cary Harger, who has been roaming the sidelines on Friday evenings for the past 27 years. Harger, a 1990 graduate of Oakridge High School, played football, was into powerlifting and was a member of the track and field team.
He continued his education at Hope College and Grand Valley State University. Along with his coaching duties, he is currently a high school biology teacher at Oakridge.
Harger got his start in coaching as a volunteer coach with Grand Haven High School during his student-teaching experience in 1994. He moved on to Oakridge in 1995 where he was an assistant coach for 16 season. He was named the program’s head coach in 2011.
Harger credits former coach Jack Schugars, Barney Goodrich, John Swinburne and M. Dean Kreps as his coaching and personal mentors.
Heading into Friday evening’s showdown with Montague, Harger is quite pleased with his team’s performance thus far this season.
“The start to this season has been gratifying on both sides of the ball, but for different reasons,” Harger said. “Offensively, we knew we had the tools to put points on the board with our returning players plus our young guys added in. Defensively, we had bigger concerns with relatively inexperienced players learning fast from our early matchups. We have been happy with the growth our defensive players have made in the beginning of the season.”
Harger, pointed towards the senior leadership of Ethan Jozsa, Corey Vanderputte and Brenden Raymond, who have stood out early in the season. Their big plays as senior leaders is just what the coaches expect from them.
“We are still looking for growth from our defensive players through experiences in each game,” Harger said.
“It’s great,” Harger said of his team’s 3-0 start. “Our oal is get our opening game as a non-conference win, it helps set us up for our conference. Our goal is to win week 1, win the conference, win week 9, make a deep run in the playoffs.”
This week’s plan is quite simple.
“Stay the course of preparation; go 1-0 this week, keep your health and grades important as well,” Harger said.