By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
Sophomore Ethan Clark ran for three scores and junior Mike DePillo threw two touchdown passes, both to senior Logan Forbes, as the Clarkston Wolves defeated Oxford, 35-14, in the Wildcats’ first road game of the season on September 25.
Clarkston raced out to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter and took a four-touchdown cushion into the halftime break.
Making the necessary adjustments at the half, Oxford outscored the Wolves, 14-7, in the second half and had a couple of opportunities to cut into the deficit even further.
On the fringe of the red zone late in the third quarter, junior quarterback Brady Carpenter was intercepted on the final play of the frame by Clarkston senior Rocco Spindler, a Notre Dame commit and son of former Detroit Lion Marc Spindler.
Also in the third quarter, the Wildcats elected to keep the offense on the field and go for it deep in Wolves’ territory on fourth-down-and-two, but an illegal substitution penalty pushed it back to a fourth-and-seven and Oxford turned the football over on downs.
Carpenter finished 15-of-20 for 124 yards and two turnovers. Through the season’s first two weeks, he has completed 27-of-36 pass attempts, good for a completion percentage of 75.
Sophomore Tate Myre scored both Wildcat touchdowns, a four-yard run with eight minutes left in the third quarter and a one-yard plunge with seven minutes remaining in the game.
Paired with his four-touchdown showing in the season-opening victory over L’Anse Creuse North, Myre has found the end zone six times already and racked up 323 total yards (191 rushing, 132 receiving).
DePillo, who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds and is considered one of the state’s top 2022 signal-callers, connected on eight-of-15 passes, and Clark tallied 191 yards on the ground on 25 attempts.
Despite the win, Clarkston head coach Kurt Richardson, a 34-year veteran, was not overly pleased with his team’s performance.
“We didn’t move the ball that well in the second half at all, one big play,” he said. “We lost our edge, that’s for sure.
“Defensively, we were not very good. We were not very good, they had a lot of yards, couldn’t stop the tight end. Got a lot of things to work on.”
While Richardson was eager to watch the film and identify what caused the issues he pointed out, his Wolves are still 2-0 and host the West Bloomfield Lakers on October 2 in what will be a showdown between two teams widely viewed as residing in the state’s top-15.
“West Bloomfield’s loaded,” he began. “They have D-I here, D-I here, D-I here, and D-I sitting on the bench. We have our work cut out for us.”
In what was his first Oakland Activities Association (OAA) game as a head coach, Oxford’s Zach Line pointed to the turnovers, self-inflicted wounds, as the difference in the game.
Said Line, “The ball is at a premium, right? You turn the ball over three times at the beginning of the game, it’s not a good start.
“To spot a team like that basically 21 points from the jump is not an easy start, so, we’ll clean some things up. I thought the guys battled hard in the second half, so, there’s good. As much bad as there was in the beginning, I thought there was good in the second half.”
The Wildcats were penalized eight times for 65 yards, compared to five flags for 50 yards for Clarkston. The total yardage battle, however, was nearly identical, with the Wolves outgaining Oxford by just a single yard, 296-295.
“It’s the growing pains of a new offense,” Line shared regarding his young team. “We’re still trying to figure out, only had five days of training camp this year, still trying to figure out who’s in each spot.
“Guys get moved around, they forget they’re the X, they forget they’re the Z, and mistakes are magnified here on the field and I think you saw that with the three fumbles.”
More than anything physical or X’s and O’s-related, the coach said the difference in the second half was a mental battle.
“It’s just the mentality,” he said of the halftime adjustments. “You can’t get in second-and-14 and run your offense, you can’t get in third-and-20 and run your offense.
“For me, we took the best shot, right? So, now let’s just do what we do, let’s relax and next time we leave that door, it has to be checked-in, that’s Oxford football.
“I think we saw we could run the ball pretty well, so, we stuck to that a little more but at the end of the day, if you spot a team 28 (points) before half, running the ball, you’re going to run out of time so we had to throw the ball a little bit.
“Again, growing pains of a new team, but I liked the way they battled in the second half.”
Now standing at 1-1 (0-1 OAA Red), the Wildcats will return home on this Friday night to host the Oak Park Knights in what will serve as their annual Homecoming game.
Oak Park is off to an 0-2 start, having been outscored, 77-6, including a 38-6 loss to the Lake Orion Dragons.
Also from the gridiron . . .
Oxford’s freshman team was able to do something the varsity and junior varsity squads could not do last week.
They beat Clarkston.
The freshmen downed the Wolves, 16-0, to improve to 2-0 on the year. This week, they travel to Rochester Adams.
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The JV team fell to 0-2 on the season last week, falling to Clarkston, 30-8. This week, the JV Wildcats will travel to Oak Park.