Winning a state title in football is always a challenge. Doing it in back-to-back years is even more of a mountain. So last Friday, when class 6A defending champ Oakland was facing a treacherous climb, their ball coach went to the back pack and broke out a new wrinkle.
It was mid-third quarter at Ray Hughes Stadium in a second round matchup with Mount Juliet and the scoreboard said visitor 7 home 3. Huh?… The Patriots had not trailed in the second half of any game this season. This was certainly gut check time to see if this deep and talented team could respond. Missed opportunities and a tough Bear defense had kept Oakland out of the end zone. Now behind and with their playoff lives hanging in the balance it was simply a “whatcha gonna do”moment for the defending champs.
This is where head coach Kevin Creasy proved his worth. Recognizing the need, Creasy switched to the Wild Pat offense which lines up 6-foot 6-inch quarterback Kody Sparks at wide receiver and puts a much smaller Victor Stephenson (5-foot 8) in the shotgun. Rolling the dice with a wrinkle, Creasy knew he needed points on the board.
The gamble paid off in a big way as Stephenson orchestrated a physical scoring drive with tough runs and great reads. The Patriots would score two more touchdowns on their next two possessions to take command of the contest. This versatile junior finished with 58 yards rushing and found pay dirt twice, but more importantly was the wrinkle that came up as a seven when Creasy rolled them bones.
“We found out a lot about ourselves in the third quarter,”says Creasy. “We knew it was going to be a tough game and I am proud of how our kids responded. You have some of those wrinkles you save, but you can’t save them forever. Victor is a playmaker for us and I am really proud of how he responded. When we switched things up everybody did their job including our pretty boy quarterback that proceeded to go out and block his butt off.”
Next up on the road to repeat is a return matchup with district rival Blackman. Oakland won the regular season soiree 40-0 but past meetings between these two has seen the script flipped come post-season time.
“Rematches are always tough no matter who its with,”says Creasy. “We have a lot of respect for Blackman and it is always a challenge when we line up against them.”
Kickoff for the November 22 third round TSSAA playoff game is slated for 7 pm at Ray Hughes Stadium on the campus of Oakland high school.