October 30, 2013 - This gridiron season has been one in which the Oxford Wildcats have had to scratch and claw for every success.
Oxford's Wes Maskill on one of his 37 carries. He scored two touchdowns against West Bloomfield and ran for 232 yards, a career-best game. Photos by Dan Shriner. (click for larger version)
Two weeks ago, the odds of Coach Bud Rowley's team making the state playoffs looked slim. The team's record was 3-4 at that point.
Oxford had to go on the road and win two games against some pretty good competition and then hope for a little luck to get into the playoffs with a 5-4 record.
They did just that. Two weeks ago they stopped Oak Park with a field goal in the final six seconds for a 20-18 win and on Friday they went to West Bloomfield and won 38-17 on the strength of 17 unanswered points in the second half.
The team learned Sunday that they made the playoffs by the slimmest of margins and will face Clarkston (8-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday in Clarkston.
Even though the Wildcats are 5-4, they lost one game by seven points, one by five and another by three. Those games could have gone either way.
"We are a pretty tough 5-4 team no matter what anybody says," said Rowley after the victory on Friday.
Rowley said the key to the win was the Wildcat's defense, which held West Bloomfield scoreless in the second half after a close first half in which Oxford led 21-17 lead at intermission.
"We shut them down in the second half and scored three times. That was the difference," Rowley said.
We (told them at halftime), 'guys you're playing not to lose instead of playing to win and you're tentative.' They came out and played and things went our way."
Oxford tailback Wesley Maskill had a career-best game, running for 232 yards and scoring two touchdowns on 37 carries.
"He's a tough kid," Rowley said of Maskill. "He hasn't played tailback all year but for three or four games so he's not all beat up. He's an Oxford kid and a good young man."
Oxford scored the first two touchdowns of the game. The first came on a one-yard run by quarterback Glacier Wallington. The score was set up by an interception by Mitchel Tilley.
Wallington then connected with Tilley on a 38-yard TD strike and the Cats led 14-0 with 7:28 left in the first quarter.
Four minutes later West Bloomfield got a one yard score and then its kicker hit on a 48-yard field goal to cut Oxford's lead to 14-10 with 8:43 left in the second quarter.
The teams then traded scores to make it 21-17 at halftime.
The second half was all Wildcats.
Aaron Johnston connected on a 28-yard field goal with 6:35 left in the third quarter. Wallington then scored on an 11 yard run with 13 seconds left in the third quarter.
Maskill put the game away in the fourth quarter with a 31-yard TD run with 7:46 left in the game.
The Oxford defense, led by John Patrick, William Horne, Ben Line, Wallington, Maskill, Tilley and Anthony Chavez-Moore stifled any hopes that West Bloomfield may have had in the second half.
Former Leader Editor Dan Shriner will cover Wildcat football this season.