Oakleaf wins share of 3-7A title

By Doug Deters
Posted 10/31/18

OAKLEAF - Co-co-co champions? No I did not stutter or suffer temporary brain damage after the “worlds largest outdoor cocktail party” this past weekend, a.k.a. Florida vs. Georgia football. …

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Oakleaf wins share of 3-7A title

Posted

OAKLEAF - Co-co-co champions? No I did not stutter or suffer temporary brain damage after the “worlds largest outdoor cocktail party” this past weekend, a.k.a. Florida vs. Georgia football.

Oakleaf put their hat in the mix for a first district title under new coach Frank Garis with a 55-34 win over Creekside on Friday that, coupled with their earlier win over Bartram Trail. The Knights, though, put that chase in jeopardy last week with a loss to Buchholz, thus making the Bartram Trail come-from-behind win over Buchholz on Friday the tying result.

“Final points standings will determine (district champ),” said Garis, referring to the FHSAA new playoff points system that rates teams based on strength of schedules, wins, losses and previous season results.

That being said, Oakleaf’s final game is at Ocala Vanguard, a Class 6A still unbeaten (9-0) team that offers a bigger batch of points as a Category 1 team (one loss or less). Buchholz plays Santa Fe, a 5A school (5-3) that is a Category 2 team while Bartram Trail has 6A-Nease High (2-6), a Category 4 team.

Creekside (6-3) offered an initial scare to the Knights’ hopes with a successful onsides kickoff on the opening whistle and a successful punt fake, but neither produced results as the Oakleaf defense buckled up and allowed just a quick scoring pass and a 7-0 Creekside lead with just two minutes expired.

Oakleaf responded quickly with senior tailback Keshawn King rumbling 51 yards to the Creekside 20 where sophomore Adrian Grey finished the drive to tie the game.

Creekside answered impolitely with quarterback Tai Lavatai, a Navy commit, rumbling 27 yards to the Oakleaf 35 before converting a fourth and one at the 20 and finishing the scoring drive from eight yards to put Creekside up again 14-7.

King again trumped Lavatai with a 61 yard touchdown run on third down to quickly even up the score before quarterback Walter Simmons hit tight end Alexander Warner with a 14 yard scoring strike to put Oakleaf up 21-14 with 6:45 left in the half.

Disaster struck Lavatai as defensive back Omarh Toliver pick sixed a pass from 18 yards out to put Oakleaf up 28-14.

Next, King blasted 32 yards to paydirt for a 35-14 lead. Next, linebacker Marcus Anthony recovered a Creekside fumble that Simmons finished off with a 24 yard scoring pass to Sean Washington as Oakleaf exploded to a 41-14 lead with 1:05 still to go to halftime. Clearly, blindside, Creekside took a knee to end the half.

Creekside scored late in the third to put the score 20 points closer at 41-21, then add a second score for the stanza to pull to 41-27.

King, again, answered with a 52 yard scoring run to get the points to 48-27.

Undaunted, Creekside got a fourth down touchdown pass to get to within 14 points, 48-35 then stopped Oakleaf for another shot at tying the game.

For Oakleaf, linebacker Korei Sheppard stepped up with a fourth down interception with 5:29 to go to cement the game with Simmons hitting Kenny Thomas for one final touchdown and the 55-34 final.

The Oakleaf offense has been humming on all cylinders for most of the year behind their stellar running game led by running back Keyshawn King who is always a big play threat when he touches the football. The Knights scoring average is 41.1 points per game and even more impressive in district play at 50.2 PPG. However, the defense has is giving up 36.2 PPG and in district play is an underwhelming 39.5 PPG which could spell an early exit especially if the offense has a below average night. Another issue the Knights must address before the post season is penalties. Against Creekside, the Knights were called for multiple late hits and personal fouls which slowed their momentum early in the game. Even the Knights coaching staff received two sideline conduct warnings from officials with one resulting in a penalty against the home team. If the Knights plan on having a deep playoff run, they will have to address and show improvement with these issues especially in the highly competitive 7A classification.

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