By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
The first home loss for the team in the 2020 campaign, the Oxford Wildcats were tripped up by the North Farmington Raiders, 14-3, on October 16.
Oxford dropped to 2-3 (1-2 Oakland Activities Association Red) with the loss, while North Farmington improved to 3-2 (2-2 OAA White).
The Raiders struck first when senior quarterback Jacob Bousamra found classmate Justin Bryant for a 49-yard touchdown with 9:50 left in the first quarter. North Farmington appeared primed to extend their lead to two scores late in the first quarter, but the Wildcat defense came up with a stop at their own one-yard line on fourth-and-goal to keep it a one-possession game.
Oxford cut the deficit to four points, 7-3, with 5:10 remaining in the second quarter when freshman Jay Cady connected on a 36-yard field goal.
Interestingly, despite this being the Wildcats’ fifth game of the season, that was the team’s first field goal attempt of the year, as Cady, who also plays soccer, missed the first four games with an injury to his right (kicking) foot.
The Raiders brought the score to the game’s final on a nine-yard touchdown run by senior Justin Whitehorn with 1:10 to go before the halftime break.
North Farmington finished with 274 yards of total offense on 44 snaps, an average of 6.2 yards per play, while the Wildcats totaled 230 yards on 47 snaps, good for an average of 4.9 yards per play.
With a season-large crowd in attendance, the most visible change for Oxford came at the quarterback position, where senior Brendan Moore drew the start, with junior Brady Carpenter moving to wide receiver.
Carpenter had started the team’s first four games, completing 36-of-61 passes (59 percent) for 397 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions, while also adding 76 yards and a score on the ground.
Moore missed classmate Ty Myre in the end zone on two occasions, but also did a lot of things right in his debut, connecting on 13-of-23 pass attempts (57 percent) for 142 yards and an interception shortly before halftime.
“I think they’re both good quarterbacks, and I think Brady (Carpenter) is a really good receiver,” head coach Zach Line said of the switch.
“It’s just kind of one of those things where you’re going through a season where there wasn’t much of a training camp and you’re trying to get the best eleven guys on the field in the right spots to win games.”
Line also indicated the plan is for Moore to start the regular season finale against the Southfield A&T Warriors at Wildcat Stadium on October 23.
For his part, Carpenter delivered a strong showing at wide receiver, catching five passes for 50 yards. This total was the second-highest on the team, trailing only sophomore Tate Myre, who hauled in three passes for 52 yards.
Myre, who also recorded an interception on defense, finished as Oxford’s leading rusher, as well, carrying the football 17 times for 90 yards.
The Raiders possess one of the OAA White’s most potent offenses, and the 14 points the Wildcats held them to matches their season-low.
“I thought the defense played great,” Line shared. “Leading up to this game, our yards per rush wasn’t great, so, the focus last week was on stopping the run.
“With a new defense, they just have to get used to their new run fits. That’s one thing I think they’ve done a great job of, and I think they saw, when they do their job, when they play fast, it works out well.”
The interception Myre recorded was the team’s second of the season, pairing him with senior cornerback Jake Dawood as the two Oxford players to appear on the sheet in this statistical category.
Senior linebacker Jack Wandrie led the Wildcats with four-and-a-half tackles, including two for loss, and John Valvo, another senior who has established himself as the team’s No. 1 cornerback, added three-and-a-half tackles.
Looking at the Southfield A&T clash, the Warriors will enter play with a 1-4 (1-3 OAA Red) record, and were defeated by the OAA White’s top team, the Stoney Creek Cougars, 36-7, on October 16.
“They’re a very athletic group and they play fast on tape,” Line said of Southfield A&T.
“For us, it’s going to be a great week of practice and just executing. That’s the big thing, that’s the message this week, just execute your job.
“I think the guys are excited, we have a team that’s ready to work. Last week was our best week of practice we’ve had all year coming off a loss, I’m hoping we can put another one together here and get on a roll.
“I think momentum is a crazy animal you can ride as far as you want to, as long as you’re willing to put the work in.”
If Oxford can prevail against the Warriors, the team will finish the regular season at .500, which would be an impressive showing for a group with a first-year head coach in one of the state’s most competitive divisions.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) playoffs will begin the following Friday, October 30. As a reminder, every team in the state qualifies for the postseason this year, due to the shortened regular season.
By Teddy Rydquist