Wildcats leave Dragons black and blue
August 31, 2011 - By the time Oxford's marching band played "Don't Stop Believin" as one of its halftime offerings Friday night, there was little doubt among the estimated 7,000 fans that the Wildcats believed they were unseating the Division 1 State Champions.
|Oxford’s Prescott Line heads in for one of the five touchdowns he scored against the beleaguered Lake Orion defense, which just couldn’t seem to stop this young force of nature. Photo by C.J Carnacchio. (click for larger version)|
Lake Orion entered the game as the defending champions and the team that handed the Wildcats a 45-6 drubbing last season.
But this was a new year and Oxford had some enthusiasm around its new blue turf and a belief that the 2011 game would be a different.
While Rowley said the game was not about revenge, it was clear that last year's drubbing weighed on the players.
"It was a long year and our kids worked hard in practice and in the weight room. They were ready. They stepped up and made plays," Rowley said.
"We had it in our gut that they beat us last year," Prescott Line said. "We wanted to come back and beat them."
From the opening drive, it became obvious that 2011 was going to be different.
|Oxford’s Grant Ingalls knocks down a Lake Orion pass.
Photo by D. Shriner. (click for larger version)|
Line scored the first of his five TDs on a 35-yard run on the opening drive.
The Wildcats' offense amassed 12 first downs while it's defense held Lake Orion to only three downs in the half.
Oxford held a 21-6 halftime lead and played a flawless half of football.
The Cats continued the onslaught in the second half and rolled to a 41-20 victory in a game that was not as close as a 41-20 score might indicate. Lake Orion scored two TDs in the final minutes of the game.
There were a number of factors that made the game one for the ages. Last year's loss, the new blue turf, the natural rivalry that exists between the schools and the fact that Lake Orion is the defending state champion, all added to the excitement.
A little extra excitement was tossed in on the evening before the game when the Wildcats were visited by Dan Dierdorf, a former star at the University of Michigan and a Hall of Famer in the National Football League.
He is an analyst with CBS and was in town for the Detroit Lions game on Saturday.
Dierdorf spoke to the team about hard work and love for the game.
What he did not envision is that the Wildcat's victory one day later would mirror the 1969 University of Michigan victory over national champion Ohio State.
In 1968, the Buckeyes drubbed Michigan, 50-14. The following season under new Coach Bo Schembechler, Ohio State came to Michigan with a 22-game winning streak on were on the verge of another national title.
The Wolverines upset Ohio State, 24-12, in what is considered one the biggest upsets ever in college football. Dierdorf was an offensive guard for the Wolverines in that game.
On its own level, the Wildcat victory over Lake Orion will be a part of local history that will be discussed for years.
"They never have to look back years from now and think about how they lost," Rowley said of his team. "They can always say that in 2011, they played great and won against the defending state champions. We broke the new field in the right way."
The Oxford seniors stepped up and made big plays on offense and defense.
"The seniors led the way and brought everyone else along with them," Rowley said.
Line led the offense with 228 yards rushing on 33 attempts and five touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Vito Giannola had 44 yards passing which included a 12-yard TD to Kyle Anderson.
The Oxford offensive and defensive lines controlled play. The Wildcats best drive of the game came in the second quarter. The 18-play drive began on the Cats' 23 and ended with Line scoring from the seven with 1:05 left in the half.
The drive chewed up more than 10 minutes on the clock and gave the Wildcats its 21-6 halftime advantage.
Line and senior Matt Economou were the leaders on defense. Economou had seven tackles and an interception. Other defensive leaders were Anthony Cappuccilli, Grant Ingalls and Glacier Wallington, who had an interception.
Collin Goetz showed that he will be a force for the Wildcats on the offensive and defensive lines. The 260-pound senior opened some huge holes on offense for the Oxford running backs while also anchoring the defensive line and getting in on a quarterback sack.
Rowley has predicted his team would be as good as its seniors and those seniors were superb on the new blue turf while the Dragons were left singing the blues.
The Wildcats next game is at Southfield Lathrup Friday, Sept. 2 at 4:30 p.m.
Former Leader Editor Dan Shriner will cover Wildcat football this season.