OAK HILL — Last year, Oak Hill was a game away from competing for an SOC II championship before falling to West.
However, it ended the season winning a playoff game — its first since 2012 — and hopes to build off that momentum. It won’t be easy though.
“Losing a senior class like we did is never an easy thing,” Oak Hill coach Paul Carver said. “We have a small senior class combined with a lot of juniors, some sophomores and a good amount of freshman. It’s a challenge we have ahead of us, but one we’re ready to face head on.”
Though the Oaks have a style not necessarily known for throwing the ball, don’t think they can’t throw. Junior quarter Darrick Boggs returns under center and has more than enough ability to throw the ball down the field.
“He’s a guy who just does things the right way and leads by example,” Carver said. “We’ve put more responsibility on him, and he’s taken everything in stride. He’s been a good leader for the young guys, and his experience is very valuable as guys get caught up to varsity football. He’ll also play defense for us, which is new for him, but we like how he’s handled everything.”
Here’s the meat and potatoes of what they like to do, which is run the ball and wear opponents down.
Nate Clutters, J.J. Brunton, Masen Saunders and Austin Crosby will all see action in the backfield as the newest wave of Oak Hill running backs.
“They all bring something different to the table that we like,” Carver said. “J.J. is a big, strong kid who can clear some space and open a hole as a lead blocker. Nate isn’t the biggest guy, but he runs really hard. Masen and Austin are both freshmen, but have shown that they’ve earned playing time, and we have confidence in them to get the job done with their number is called.”
Anytime Oak Hill does go down the field, that’s where guys like Braylon Howell, Aidan Hall, Isaiah McCarty and Dylan Venegas come in as tight ends and receivers.
On the offensive and defensive line, Evan Fisher is the anchor on both sides as he’ll return as a now three-year starter. He’s joined by Walker Sites, Connor Stout, Ethan Webb, Aden Ford, Kaleb Nolan, Hunter Crosby and Alex Sharp.
“We’ve had some great competition, and spots are still open, to be honest,” Carver said. “All the guys have worked hard improve quite a bit over the summer and through a couple scrimmages. We’ve mixed up rotations to find which core of guys work the best together, and there hasn’t been much separation. It’s been neck and neck.”
Bruton, Venegas, Braylon Whitt and Jayden Turner will see some action at linebacker while Howell, Boggs, Clutters, Garrett McKinniss, Eli Potter and Trent Puckett handle duties in the secondary.
With only six seniors on Oak Hill’s team, this year is incredibly important for the future as players gain varsity experience.
However, the Oaks still have their eyes on the ultimate prize.
“We’re going to compete night in and night out. It’ll be a learning experience since we’ll have some younger guys playing varsity football for the first time,” Carver said. “It’s a lot to take in for guys going from middle school ball to high school where guys are older, faster and hit much harder.
Oak Hill opens its season on Friday at Wellston.