by Danny Brewer
The world of high school football always contains peaks and valleys. Climbing the mountain of success can be very difficult, especially in an ultra-competitive Rutherford County. Staying atop Kilimanjaro is even tougher, but that’s what Oakland hopes to do as the Patriots play for the class 6A state title on December 5.
In what has been a season of shifting sand schedule wise, Oakland has toed the turf twelve times this season without being defeated (also three Covid forfeits are listed officially). Despite a little bit smaller team physically, the Patriots have been as big as ever in dominating the opposition. The closest regular season contest in which they were involved was a 36-20 road win at Warren County.
The post-season always brings new challenges, but Oakland has more than flexed their muscle. Four decisive wins left little doubt as to who was the best team on the field. Opening with a 49-0 win over Rossview was a great start to the second season. However the man-handling of Mount Juliet (49-17) and wrestling of rival Riverdale (39-14) were more impressive. But the real measuring stick of this team might have been the 49-7 mangling of playoff nemesis Maryville in the TSSAA semifinals.
“Obviously we felt confident going into the Maryville game, but I didn’t think we could beat them like that,“ says Oakland head coach Kevin Creasy. “I am really proud for how this team put it all together and rallied after losing one of our best players, Victor Stephenson, to injury.“
Coming off such an emotional win can be good news-bad news as the four-time state champion head coach (three at Trousdale County one at Oakland) is well aware. Maryville ended the Patriots season last year in the semifinal round, so a woodshed whipping was especially sweet. But now it is on to another challenge and the BlueCross Bowl.
“Our challenge is can we get up one more week,” says Creasy. “The playoffs are a different animal and you have to be ready or your season ends with a loss. This group has done an excellent job of preparing the last four weeks. Now we just need to turn it up one more time.”
Confronting the Patriots in the class 6A state title game will be Brentwood (10-3). These two schools met during the regular season in a late-scheduled contest due to Covid. After both the regularly scheduled opponents fell out the two agreed to meet. Oakland went to Williamson County and beat the Bruins 37-0.
A couple of quick facts the calculating Creasy is adding up are Brentwood avenged one of their other regular season losses with a post-season win over Independence and that Brentwood won the 2002 state title with a huge upset of heavily favored Riverdale. The Bruin leader that orchestrated the 10-7 win over the Warriors for all the marbles is current coach Ron Crawford.
“We understand the regular season game means nothing here,” says Creasy, now in his sixth season at Oakland. “We have a lot of respect for Brentwood and their coaching staff. Our players have to be ready to accept the huge challenge a game like this presents.”
Kickoff for the 2020 class 6A BlueCross Bowl is scheduled for 7 pm in Cookeville at Tucker Stadium on the Tennessee Tech campus.