PENELOPE — It could have been titled the Battle of the ‘O’s when Oakwood Panthers (5-3) and Oglesby Tigers (9-1) squared off in the Six-Man 1A Division 2 Bi-District playoff game Friday. The offensive battle saw the teams trade punches all night, and the lead toggled back and forth until late in the game when the Tigers’ superior depth finally prevailed for the win, 62-52.
Before the teams took the field, the tale of the tape favored Oglesby. They had almost twice the number of players, more experience, greater size, a better record and the District 14 title. Oakwood fielded only ten players, mostly underclassmen, and have been quarantined, forcing them to forfeit to Calvert and settle for the runner-up spot in District 13. But all that went out the window when the teams stepped on the turf. Maybe no one had told Oakwood to be intimidated...
The Tigers scored in their first possession, but Oakwood senior Cooper Edgemon quickly led the Panthers into the lead. He anchored their first drive and scored on a 5-yard touchdown run. Cooper came up with a fumble recovery to put his team back on offense, and capitalized on the opportunity with a 40-yard scoring pass to sophomore Zack Nickerson. The Tigers regained the lead late in the first quarter, but Edgemon scored again on a 5-yard run early in the second period to put his team back on top.
And so it went, the whole back and forth game. In Edgemon’s final game as a Panther he tallied five rushing touchdowns, a 1-point rushing PAT, and passed for one touchdown. Nickerson scored on one 40-yard catch-and-run, one 45-yard run and a rushing PAT. Sophomore Arturo Alatorre recovered a forced fumble in the end zone to score. Senior Chance McElwaine added a PAT kick.
With PAT kicks worth two points in six-man ball, the dIfference in the game came down to the toe of Oglesby sophomore kicker Brodie Fisher, who hit 7 of 8 attempts.
Coach Paul Johnston Summed up his squad’s season finale: "I want to stress how proud I am of my kids. We’ve been out for two weeks because of COVID quarantine, and got one practice this week, late yesterday. They came out and executed. They played their hearts, out-numbered, as they are every game. We lost to a good team — those guys are 9-1 and they're good. it wasn’t like we came out here and didn’t play. We just came up short. This team is young, we have a great future."