By Craig Beilfuss
Game time is set for 2 p.m.
Last Friday, the Eagles (10-1) limited visiting Belding to a mere 132 yards of total offense and also received big plays on the ground and through the air. That led the Eagles to a 30-8 victory over the Black Knights in the Division 5 district championship game.
It was the second week in a row that Oakridge’s opponent had less than 150 yards of offense. Shepherd managed just 143 in the pre-district game two weeks ago. Oakridge won that game, 32-0.
In the win over Belding, Brody Jennings led the defense with 13 tackles. Trever Jones chipped in 11 tackles while Brian Elizondo had nine. Aiden Johnston was credited with a sack and Dakota Smith also had a tackle for loss.
Gladwin (11-0) comes into the contest after a 35-20 their pre-district game over Ogemaw Heights, 35-20 before winning its district championship game last Saturday, 59-25, over Kingsford.
The Flying G’s won the Jack Pine Conference outright with a 6-0 record.
Gladwin will bring a high-flying offense into Saturday’s matchup. The Flying G’s average 49 points per game under the direction of Coach Marc Jarstfer.
“Gladwin has been playing some really good football,” said Oakridge coach Cary Harger. “They have some good size along their front lines and they some good running backs and so it is going to be a big challenge in the regional championship game.”
Oakridge will have the home field advantage on Saturday afternoon.
“That is really big,” said Harger. “We get to come out of our own locker room. But as I have told our team it is playoff football. We would play on the moon if we had to. It’s absolutely a big advantage to play at home from a comfort level.”
The Flying G’s will have to contend with an Eagle offense, led by Jones, at running back, and quarterback Matt Danicek.
Against Belding, Jones ran 21 times for 150 yards and scored on runs of 3 and 9 yards. Danicek had a solid game throwing the ball. He completed 9-of-11 passes for 93 yards.
“We’ll need to be more physical this week,” Harger said. “I told the kids after the Belding game that I liked our physicality, but we’ll need to step it up more this week against Gladwin.
“Offensively, ball control will be the key for us and it’s important that we control the line of scrimmage,” Harger said. “We’ll have to make sure that our lineman account for all of their defensive stunts. They (Gladwin) move their people all around the place. On defense, we need to eliminate any silly mistakes that will allow them to get rolling. Over the course of the season, we’ve gotten better at gang tackling and we need to continue that, and again, just control the line of scrimmage.”
The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to the semifinal round against the Portland-Grand Rapids Catholic Central survivor.
That game will be played at a neutral site.