|On a cool sun drenched Saturday morning at La Vergne High School, the Oakland Middle Chargers finished their season at 9-0 and as football champions with a hard fought 18-8 win over the 7-2 Christiana Cougars.
Going unbeaten is very difficult and this game was in doubt for a long time.
Christiana had the day’s most beautiful play as Cougar quarterback Preston Barge, behind fine protection, hit receiver Tae Holiday, with a 40-yard first quarter touchdown pass down the right sideline. La’ Zarius Patterson ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 Christiana lead.
After the first quarter, Oakland Middle went to work behind workhorse running backs Rico Jones and Jackson Cauthen who eventually scored on a seven-yard run. The conversion run failed and Christiana led 8-6 at the half.
Christiana miscues – two fumbles and two interceptions – and 122 yards rushing on 25 carries from Jones was critical to the Oakland in the comeback win.
A Charger second half score came almost immediately as DeVante Harris ran back the second half kickoff for a 63-yard score.
The conversion failed again but Oakland stretched the 12-8 lead to 18-8 when Charger QB/DB Cody Miller intercepted his second pass on the day and ran it back to the one-yard line. Jones scored on the next play and that was your final.
There were a lot of positives to be taken from this game; among them were the large and supportive crowd, excellent help from host Rock Springs and good officiating.
As impressed as I was with the considerable offensive talents in this game, I was more impressed with the defensive play.
For Christiana, Nick Boykin was in on more plays than anyone, and he had lots of help from Carlos Reynolds, Brandon Turner, James Harris, Preston Barge, Sidney Bell, Johnathan Mathews, Rodney Murray and others.
For Oakland, linebacker Jackson Cauthen and lineman Jonathan Gibbs were everywhere. Jarod Parker, Chris Onwumere, Caleb Smith, Brevin Linnell, and Nick Jordan were alive defensively along with others and they shut down the Cougar running game.
Christiana Coach Chris George has got to be proud of his unselfish Cougars who have excelled all year with their only two losses coming to Oakland. The Cougars play hard clean football.
Oakland Coach Kit Hartsfield should also be proud. His squad is disciplined and they too, play hard and virtually penalty free. The Chargers won their first county championship in their third year and finished unbeaten.
I just couldn’t help thinking while watching from the press box, how our middle schools have expanded opportunities.
There were 104 players dressed out. How many of these players would be playing if all we offered was Central Middle?