Wildcats host North Farmington next
By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
In their second road game of the 2020 season, the Oxford Wildcats traveled to West Bloomfield to battle the Lakers on October 9.
Racing out to a three-score lead after one quarter of play, West Bloomfield, considered by many to be one of the state’s five best teams, easily handled Oxford, 45-0.
With the loss, the Wildcats dropped to 2-2 (1-2 Oakland Activities Association Red), the Lakers improved to 3-1 (3-1 OAA Red).
Oxford won the coin toss and elected to defer their decision to the second half. After forcing West Bloomfield to punt on their first drive of the game, the Wildcats punted themselves on their opening drive.
Finding their groove on their second possession, the Lakers took a 7-0 lead with 5:07 left in the opening frame when senior quarterback Alex Short found sophomore wide receiver Semaj Morgan for a 30-yard score.
Courtesy of a perfectly-placed kick by senior Jake Ward, one of three kicks Oxford was unable to recover on the night, West Bloomfield retained the football and extended their lead to 14-0 just 1:15 later when senior running back Donovan Edwards found the end zone from 25 yards out.
A Michigan Wolverines lean, according to most major recruiting services, Edwards finished with three touchdowns and reached the 100-yard rushing mark.
Edwards’ second score of the contest, this one from 20 yards out, widened the gap to 21-0 with 2:59 remaining in the first quarter.
Faced with a fourth-down-and-four at the Lakers’ 14-yard line with 3:06 left in the second quarter, the Wildcats’ best scoring opportunity of the game, an errant snap whizzed past junior quarterback Brady Carpenter and was scooped up by senior defensive end Niles King, who took it the distance to extend the lead to 28-0.
A 41-yard field goal by Ward with 12 seconds in the first half brought the halftime score to 31-0.
An eight-yard touchdown run by Edwards made the score 38-0 with 10:16 left in the third quarter and West Bloomfield added the game’s final points with 4:51 to play on a 34-yard run.
As an interesting side note, Mike Stone of 97.1 The Ticket, commonly referred to as “Stoney,” provided the public address commentary over the loudspeakers, as he does for many Laker athletic events.
Carpenter completed five-of-14 passes for 35 yards and an interception and added 11 yards on the ground.
Senior Brendan Moore had a nice night, finishing as Oxford’s leading rusher with 32 yards, picked up on a fake punt in the second quarter, and doubling as the team’s leading receiver with 29 yards on three catches.
Aidan Regan, another senior, caught Carpenter’s other two completions, his first receptions since the season-opening victory over the L’Anse Creuse North Crusaders on September 18.
“As a coach, obviously, you walk away from that game saying you didn’t have your team prepared,” Zach Line shared, while likely being too hard on himself.
“When you play a team like West Bloomfield or Clarkston, really anyone in the OAA Red, you have to come prepared and I thought as a coach, I didn’t do that.”
Line’s Wildcats have already surpassed the win total of the 2019 team, and the two losses have come at the hands of teams with state title aspirations this fall. So, while losing a game by this margin is disappointing, there is no reason to sound the alarm bell and the progress the program has made, especially given the unprecedented offseason, is evident.
After finishing up his film breakdown on the morning of October 10, the coach identified a couple of players who caught his eye and played hard through the last whistle in the loss.
“Brendan Moore is a guy we singled out. He’s one of those guys who, regardless of the opponent, comes out and plays football and does his job.
“Today’s (October 10) film for us was a great time to show what coming out, doing your job, and practice habits translating to gameday performance looks like, and Brendan Moore was one of those guys.
“I thought Brady (Carpenter) did a good job of being a game manager. He didn’t throw any footballs in bad positions; the screen pass interception, I’ll put that one on me. I think he did a good job of being a game manager and being safe with the football.
“On defense, (linebacker) Tate Myre did a good job. He’s asked to do a lot in this defense, and he does a good job of it. For a sophomore, the sky’s the limit and he has unbelievable potential and works hard in practice. Another guy whose practice habits translate to gameday.”
The Wildcats will return home on October 16, where they are 2-0 this season, to square off with the North Farmington Raiders at 7 p.m.
A member of the OAA White, the Raiders will also enter play at 2-2 (2-2 OAA White), having defeated the rival Farmington Falcons, 38-14, on October 9.
“I know they have a good coaching staff, they’re a good team,” Line said of North Farmington.
“It’s the biggest game of the year because it’s the next one. Our core values are preparation, relentless effort, and one-eleventh, and we didn’t have a lot of that against West Bloomfield.
“I’m hoping we have an angry team. The thing I want this week is a team that reaches down and pulls out a little anger, a little pride, because we should be an angry team.”
If the 2020 trend of alternating wins and losses continues, Friday should be a good night for Oxford.