King Football returns

The Wildcats took to the famed blue turf of Wildcat Stadium last week to officially kick off the 2023 gridiron season. Two-a-day practices all last week were in the morning and again in the afternoon. Tomorrow afternoon Oxford will host Sterling Heights Stephenson High School in a scrimmage. Photo by D. Rush

First scrimmage game this Thursday

By Don Rush

The pop of pads and the excitement of high school football returns to Oxford tomorrow at Wildcat Stadium. Oxford High School’s varsity football team will scrimmage Sterling Heights Stephenson High School, starting at 5 p.m.

This is the third year in a row we have scrimmaged Stephenson,” Wildcat coach Zach Line said.

The Wildcats officially started two-a-day practices on August 7. “It was perfect weather for practice,” Line said. “It was 65 degrees.”

Line, a 2008 Oxford High School graduate is in his fourth year leading the Wildcats on the gridiron.

Line is excited about the program as it has steadily grown in numbers – with nearly 50 players on the varsity squad this year, 18 returning seniors. “We’ve grown in size and numbers this year,” he said. “Are numbers at all levels have increased. We have about 35 on the JV team and the Freshman team as well. We’ve had good players all along and this year, too. This group is definitely hungry to do something.”

Four senior leaders to keep an eye on, Line said, are defensive back and wide receiver Brody Moore, defensive and offensive lineman Sean Wilson, defensive back and wide receiver Evan Gehringer, defensive back, tight end and kicker Jay Cady.

I look forward to the grind this year,” Line said. “The process of getting ‘there.’ You can always tell where a team is at by if they are enjoying the process, having fun and coming together, or if the process is just something they have to do and they just check the boxes. What’s fun about this group is every day, May, June, July and it’s now August, they come in everyday ready and eager to learn. That’s what I look forward to because I know we have a good squad.”

This year expect to see a little more from the Wildcats. “Going into year four as a coach you start figuring out things you really like and that you run well. You are figuring out your players and your staff. You’re less of a robot of what you’ve learned and more of an organic version of what you know.”

On the sidelines coaching with Line are Jason Eldridge, Brandon Groedle, Eric Ghiacuiuc, Mike Kings, Trevor Potts and Ross Wingert.

The season opens with a home game against Utica Eisenhower on Friday, Aug. 25. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Eisenhower has a great defense,” Line said. “Historically you can look back for years and their defense has been stout. They hold teams. They make you work down the field. They are similar to what we are trying to be. We’re not going to give up the big shot. Defensively, we’re going to make you work. You might get three, four or five yards, but you’re not going to get the satisfaction of the big play.”

Oxford will again compete in the Red Division of the Oakland Activities Association.

The Red is always tough,” Line said with a smile. “You have a ton of athletes and great coaches, too. I have had the honor to meet a lot of these guys now. They’re good people and great coaches. I enjoy the Red Division. I love the rivalries we have with Lake Orion and Clarkston. I love the competition you get from West Bloomfield and Stoney Creek and of course the last couple of years the league has been led by Rochester Adams.”

The first league game is Friday, Sept. 8 at Lake Orion. Be sure to watch for The Leader’s Gridiron special section, with the full roster, schedule and more in the Aug. 30 edition.

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