PDT Sports Writer
After the first week of the season, all five members of the SOC I were undefeated. But heading into the final week of action before conference play, the Oak Hill Oaks are the only team with an unblemished 4-0 mark. Under first-year coach Nathan Dugan, Oak Hill has already doubled its win total from a year ago.
Host Minford, also sporting a 4-0 record, looks to give the Oaks their first defeat when the teams meet Friday night. With a 17-15 edge in the all-time series, Falcons coach Brent Daniels stresses a win in this game will help, not only in confidence heading into SOC II play next Friday, but also in computer points.
“We’ve been battling back-and-forth for the last six, seven years against each other and it’s always been pretty competitive ball games,” Daniels said. “It should be a good ball game.”
Daniels gives credit of Oak Hill’s success to a combination of Dugan’s coaching and the present talent on the squad. In particular, he pointed out the backfield tandem of seniors Wes Harden and Devon Davis who have combined for 1,081 yards on 146 carries and eight touchdowns.
“Those two kids run the ball extremely hard, they’re big kids, they play very hard for four quarters,” Daniels said. “Their offensive line—as a unit—are pretty big-sized kids. They’re going to outsize us and their defensive line is the same way.”
A week after watching his team defeat Jackson County rival Wellston 20-7, Dugan told the Jackson County Times-Journal this week will not be any easier.
“It’s certainly a challenge, but if you want to consider yourself to be a good team, you have to see challenges like this and do everything you can to rise up and meet them,” Dugan said. “We expect nothing less than Minford’s best game, and we are going to do everything we can to give them ours.”
This is not the first time both teams face each other with undefeated records. In 2009, the Oaks came from behind to post a 20-14 home win.
The Falcons got their revenge the next season, posting a 13-0 home win that snapped Oak Hill’s 18-game regular season winning streak. The two then met in the playoffs that season and the Oaks advanced with a 31-27 decision.
In last week’s 41-14 home win over Portsmouth, Minford ran for 404 yards. The Oak Hill run defense has yielded a total of 415 yards in four games.
One key to winning the ground game according to Daniels will be the Falcons passing game. Entering his fifth game at quarterback, Cody Stapleton is showing signs he has a grasp of the Minford offense.
While he only attempted nine passes against his former school a week ago, Stapleton is expected to put the ball in the air anywhere from 10 to 14 times a contest. This will alleviate the pressure brought on by a 5-2 defense implemented by the Oaks that has tape on last week’s game that revealed the Trojan defense putting up to nine people in the box.
Jackson County Times-Journal Sports Editor Paul Boggs contributed to the report.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.