The Oakridge Eagles travelled to Howard City for a battle with the Tri-County Vikings on Friday evening. A district championship was on the line, and for the second season in a row it came down to the winner of this matchup. Though Tri-County was a better team this fall, they were 2-4 in the regular season last year, it did not help too much on the scoreboard. After a 38-point loss last year, the Vikings suffered a 36-point loss this fall, 58-22.
Oakridge scored just sixteen seconds into this game. Trever Jones reeled off a 43-yard sprint to the end zone, and Corey Vanderputte added a two-point try. This gave the Eagles an 8-0 lead. Tri-County quickly responded with a 12-yard pass from Tyler Tompkins to Stuart Gould, but they failed their conversion attempt.
In the remaining nine minutes of the opening frame, Oakridge scored 22 more points. First, Matt Danicek found Vanderputte on a 60-yard strike for the Eagles. Vanderputte raced past the Vikings defense on his way to a 19-yard touchdown, and Trever Jones capped off the quarter with a 43-yard scoring burst. This put the Eagles ahead 30-6 after twelve minutes.
The second quarter was limited offensively, with only one touchdown scored. It still came at the favor of Oakridge, allowing the Eagles to expand their lead. Corey Vanderputte returned to the end zone, sprinting past the Tri-County tacklers for an 80-yard touchdown. A conversion run by Jones put the Eagles in front 38-6 at the break.
Matt Danicek’s quarterback keeper from a single yard out kicked the running clock into effect. Tri-County made that short-lived with a Trent Behrenwald touchdown run by six yards. Before the third quarter end, the running clock was back, as Brenden Raymond scored from a yard out, giving Oakridge a 52-14 lead.
In the fourth quarter, both teams scored once. First, it was Tri-County, as Tyler Tompkins found Stuart Gould for the second time resulting in a touchdown. Trever Jones’ third touchdown of the game rounded out the scoring, as he ran 34 yards to score.
With this victory, Oakridge is district champions for the second year in a row. After repeating their district semifinal and district final opponents from 2020, they will get the same regional opponent as well. Grand Rapids Catholic Central cruised past Oakridge a year ago, a 58-7 thrashing. This week, GRCC disposed of rival West Catholic, 44-6. The Eagles will try to change their fate and pull off an improbable upset that would snap their 34-game winning streak on the road next week.