By Ron Rop
MUSKEGON – Now more than ever, Oakridge coach Cary Harger is having to be creative with his football roster.
The injury bug has forced the veteran coach to call on jayvee players and “fifth-quarter players” to fill holes while the injury bug continues to wreak havoc on the Eagles.
On Friday night, several of those players stepped up and helped lead the Eagles to a 50-18 victory over neighboring Orchard View.
You can start with junior Zac Cribbins, who is listed as a receiver on the roster. But when senior standout Trever Jones went out with a dislocated thumb, Cribbins was pressed into duty. All he did was rush 12 times for 84 yards and his first three varsity touchdowns.
Jones rushed the ball on the first three plays from scrimmage before leaving for a trip to the hospital.
“We want Trever to be a big part of every game,” said Harger. “I told him (Cribbins) at one point, we’re going to make a running back out of you yet and he gave me a giggle, but he did a fantastic job.”
Then there was sophomore Jayden Dailey, a recent callup from the jayvee team. All he did was run 33 yards for a touchdown and return a kickoff 95 yards for another score.
“We moved him up last week when Bryson Stephenson went out with an elbow and so he helped with the secondary,” Harger said. “He did well and once he gets rid of those sophomore butterflies, he settles in and can definitely play football.”
So, on a rainy night that even featured a 30-minute delay in the fourth quarter due to lightning, the Eagles enjoyed a homecoming celebration.
Despite the lopsided final score, the Cardinals were actually within striking distance at the half.
Stephon Oakes scored on a 43-yard run on the last play of the opening quarter to give OV a 6-0 lead.
After Cribbins scored on runs of 8 and 3 yards, the Eagles were up 14-6.
With seconds left before half, Cardinal quarterback Alexander Theile lofted a long pass down the field that was tipped by an Eagle defender and landed in the arms of Curtis Scott, who darted into the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown reception.
When play resumed in the third quarter, Cribbins scored on a 36-yard run and Bryce Bisson scored on a 25-yard run. Oakridge took a 29-12 lead into the final quarter.
Minutes later, lightning was spotted and the teams took a 30-minute break.
When play resumed, Oakridge quarterback Evan Miller completed his only pass of the night, a 12-yard scoring strike to Braydon Peterson.
Then it was Dailey’s turn on a 33-yard touchdown run for a 43-12 lead.
Orchard View struck again when Enrique Gutierrez took a handoff and rambled 82 yards for a touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, Dailey ran it back 95 yards for a touchdown that capped the evening’s scoring.
“With that delay, we were worried because we had some momentum going,” Harger said. “We didn’t want to come out flat so we made sure our guys were focused and fired up and they were. What was great was that our ‘fifth-quarter’ guys got so much practice time with us this week and it was great to see them on the field getting rewards for that.”
Stephenson led the Eagles’ ground attack with 11 carries for 99 yards.
Orchard View had Gutierrez lead its rushing attack with nine carries for 100 yards. Oakes had 11 carries for 74 yards.
Bisson led Oakridge with eight tackles while Michael Wambaugh and Max Hannold each added six.
Samuel Jordan led OV with seven tackles. Emilio Villareal had six.
Oakridge (4-3) heads to Ravenna next week.
Orchard View (3-4) travels to Ludington.
Check out more photos shot by Leo Valdez.