By Nate Thompson

EGELSTON TOWNSHIP – Another stellar defensive performance Friday evening put the Oakridge varsity football team in the same position it found itself a year ago – district champions. 

The Eagles limited visiting Belding to a mere 132 yards of total offense and they also received big plays on the ground and through the air offensively in their 30-8 victory over the Black Knights in the Division 5 district championship game. 

Oakridge (10-1) advances to next week’s regional contest against the winner of Gladwin and Kingsford. 

The Eagles struck first midway through the first quarter thanks to their passing game, as quarterback Matt Danicek connected on a 27-yard touchdown to receiver Chris Knapp. Danicek’s ensuing 2-point conversion put the Eagles up, 8-0. 

Danicek had an extremely proficient game throwing the ball, completing 9-of-11 passes for 93 yards. 

Oakridge’s lead swelled to 14-0 in the second as Danicek called his own number and scored on a 9-yard run. The 2-point try failed. 

Belding cut its deficit to 14-8 on its lone scoring drive late in the second, as junior running back Jack Ward found the end zone from 9 yards out. The Black Knights also converted a successful 2-point pass, helping them climb to within six. 

But the Eagles shut Belding down in the second half, and their ground game began to wear out the Black Knights.  

Running back Trever Jones, who ran 21 times for 150 yards, scored on runs of 3 and 9 yards to put the game comfortably in the Eagles’ favor. 

Jones also played a big role in limiting Belding’s ground game to just 98 yards, as he tallied 11 tackles, including two for loss. Brody Jennings led the defense with 13 tackles, while Brian Elizondo had nine. Aiden Johnston was credited with a sack and Dakota Smith also had a tackle for loss.  

It was the second week in a row that Oakridge’s opponent had less than 150 yards of offense, as Shepherd managed just 143 last week. 

Aside from his strong passing totals, Danicek also was a threat with his legs, totaling 80 yards on 13 carries.