ORANGE PARK - With a powerful offensive line, the Oakleaf High Knights’ football team flexed some muscles for two game periods to register a 34-21 ‘win’ of sorts over Ridgeview High as both teams clashed in the FHSAA Officials Camp Saturday morning at Ridgeview High School.
“We want to be a physical, downhill running team,” said Oakleaf first year coach Frank Garis. “We wanted to show that. Obviously, we got a few good running backs. Thirty five points in a half is pretty good.”
Oakleaf established some brutality with an opening tackle by safety Zachariah Nesby on Panther running back Rolando Gray that created some excited response from both sides plus a 15 yard penalty flag for the post-tackle pushing and shoving.
From there, both teams socked one-two punches through the first series with Ridgeview linebacker Dominic Stanfield stuffing Oakleaf running back Keshawn King on a swing pass out of the backfield to answer the Knights’ first big hit with his own. Ridgeview was forced to punt on their first series after a sack behind the line of scrimmage from defensive end Chantz Williams.
“We did alright,” said Ridgeview coach Cameron Porch. “I’m pleased. We were missing some guys.”
On third down after Stanfield’s tackle, King blasted behind his mammoth left tackle, Jalen Rivers, to roll 62 yards to paydirt very quickly to put Oakleaf up 7-0 with 7:47 left in the first period.
“Me at left tackle; King Solomon, left guard; center Seger McKissack; Sean Edwards or James Gerrity, right guard; and right tackle Jason Mitchell, we feed off the energy of the team; the backs behind us,” said Rivers. “Keshawn can break a game on any play. We just have to give him the opening.”
Ridgeview quarterback Tyler Huff tried to back up the Oakleaf defense with a quick strike post pattern pass play to wideout Brian Jackson that got the Panthers on the Oakleaf 30 from their own 30.
A sideline pass got an interference call against Oakleaf as Ridgeview’s fast-moving offense was opening holes for running back Jaidan Turner as Huff was staying on the ground to the Knights’ 27 yard line.
Huff hit Isaac Chaffins for another gain to the Oakleaf 14 plus a hold penalty against the Knights.
On the next play, Oakleaf linebacker Dexter Moore dislodged the ball from Huff on a scramble with the Knights picking up the ball to change the field.
On his first play, Oakleaf quarterback Walter Simmons tried to find wideout Terrance Anthony off a fly pattern, but the ball was just inches over his outstretched fingertips.
“We are going to take that shot downfield,” said Simmons. “Better to overthrow then to underthrow and get an interception.”
Simmons immediately went to tight end Xander Warner for an 11 yard gain as the Knights tried to keep the Panther defense from setting.
Simmons went again to Anthony with a pass that put Oakleaf on the Ridgeview 23 yard line. Oakleaf tried to pound inside the Panther defense, but stops from defensive end Odijuan Whitfield put the Knights at fourth down and inches.
Oakleaf loaded up their power formation for fourth down attempt with Moore and defensive end Chantz Williams in to block. King rumbled off left tackle with Rivers in the lead to get to the one yard line. A play later, Adrian Grey pounded in for the score to put the game at 14-0 still in the first quarter.
“We want to go straight downfield and score on every possession,” said Simmons. “The missed passes loosen up the defense.”
Knowing Ridgeview’s offensive explosiveness, Panther coach Cameron Porch rolled a left sideline pass to wideout Brian Jackson that went 70 yards to paydirt to score the game 14-6.
Ridgeview started to slow down the Oakleaf offense as the first quarter ended. Simmons came back out at quarterback with sophomore Kevin Davis, a linebacker, next to him to start the second stanza.
Davis answered King with a 27 yard rumble to the Panther 28 before Sellers doubled up with his own run to the Panther six yard line. Simmons bootlegged right for the score to 21-6.
On their first play after the score, Ridgeview stayed with their jet sweep with Turner punching through for 11 yards. The drive stalled off a dropped pass by Denali Lindo.
Junior Darrius Allen took his turn in the backfield and opened with a 10 yard run on first down.
“We got four or five guys we can put in the backfield that can be effective behind our offensive line,” said Garis. “Once the run game is established, then we’ll go to the air.”
Simmons missed again to Anthony, but hit end Sean Washington on the 20 yard line to set up a touchdown post toss to Antonio Marshall at 6:26 to go and the score up 28-6.
Huff stayed on top of his offense with Gray taking handoffs; one a shovel pass before Lindo took a wide open post pass for a 60 yard touchdown at 5:21.
Davis broke off right tackle for a 45 yard gain to the 20 of Ridgeview on Oakleaf’s first carry then, two plays later, scored to put Oakleaf up 34-13.
Ridgeview would get one more score with Turner breaking down the sideline for 35 yards to the Oakleaf 20 before a slant to Jackson put the Panthers at the one yard line.
Ridgeview would score to get the final score to 34-21.