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Roar on M-24 heads north to Oxford's blue turf



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August 24, 2011 - By Joe St. Henry

Review Editor

Call it a tale of two cities – er, styles.

The Lake Orion Dragons visit Oxford this Friday in the second installment of its renewed football rivalry with their friends to the north. Head Coach Chris Bell says fans should expect two distinct strategies for scoring from the teams.

"Our advantage is we have a lot of speed and the ability to score quickly on offense," he said. "Oxford will play power football, lining up and running the ball behind a big offensive line. They will try to ram it at us. Our defensive line is going to have to play tough."

Last year, Lake Orion pummeled the Wildcats at home, 45-6, but Bell thinks this year may be different. Not only will the Wildcats and their fans be in a frenzy to christen the new, blue football field that has received so much attention, but the coach thinks they are a very good team.

"They have some big, experienced skill players that we'll have to control," Bell said.

The Dragons, on the other hand, are replacing 18 starters from last year's state championship team. The coach said his younger players have met the coaches' expectations so far, leading up to the first game of the season. Still, there is a big question to answer.

"You never know how ready your players are until they play that first game," Bell said. "We'll make some mistakes, but you just have to play through them."

Competing in a four-way scrimmage last week against the likes of Howell, Holt and Lowell, the Dragons were arguably the best team there, Bell said, considering a number of his second-string players saw considerable action.

Lake Orion's starters will see plenty of playing time on Friday, Bell promised. Nobody is interested in a close game with the Wildcats who are playing in just their second season in the OAA, he said. Lake Orion is led by fourth-year starting quarterback Sean Charette and a talented set of receivers. On defense, end Andrew Shafkalis and linebacker Jon Gall will lead the charge.

"We're very excited to play Oxford this weekend with its new blue turf," Bell said. "But, we try to not get too caught up in all the excitement. It's a long season."

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