**ARTICLE BY JOSH LONGSTRETH**
The Shepherd Bluejays come into the 2022 Playoffs putting together their best season since 2005. They would head into Friday night at 6-3. Outside of one of those losses the Bluejays lost by just two TD’s to Meridian and Ithaca. Even with what has been considered a successful season for Shepherd, they were looking for more when they traveled to Oakridge High School to take on the Oakridge Eagles. Losing just one game on the year to a very good Whitehall team, the Oakridge Eagles have put together big win after big win this season by beating six playoff teams en route to a 8-1 record. The #4 ranked team in Division 5 would look to see if they could add another team to the win column in this one.
Oakridge would jump on top first midway through the 1st quarter. Trevor Jones would plunge in from 1-yard out giving the home team an 8-0 lead after a good 2-point try. The Eagles would build on to that lead late in the 1st. Jones would find his way into the endzone again, this time from 22-yards out. Another 2-point try would give the Eagles a 16-0 lead heading into the 2nd.
Things wouldn’t get any easier for the visiting Bluejays in the 2nd. With 6:35 left in the quarter, Jones would find his way into the endzone for the third time on the night. The 2-yard TD run would put Oakridge up 24-0 after a good 2-point try. They weren’t done yet, Jones would add another to grab his fourth TD of the night from 3-yards away. It was all Oakridge after one half of play, 32-0.
This one would slow down a bit and the Shepherd defense would stiffen up a bit in the 2nd half. But so did Oakridge. Both offenses would be for not in the half, Oakridge cruises in this one, 32-0.
The Eagles defense was alive and well all night. A defense that has been good all year, Oakridge would hold the Bluejays to just 143 yards on the night. They would pile up 418 yards of offense for themselves. Being forced to throw the ball early, the Shepherd offense could just never get on track on the night. Isaiah Reihl would grab 82 yards rushing but it just wouldn’t be enough. Maddox Woods led the Bluejay defense with 11 tackles.
Trevor Jones led Oakridge with 265 yards on the ground and 4 TD’s. He led the defense with 6 tackles and a sack on the night. Matt Danicek would go for 149 yards through the air. Chris Knapp had 82 yards receiving on the night.
Shepherds season will come to an end at 6-4 on the year. They will look to build on the 2022 season in what was a program building year.
Oakridge will move on and have a shot at Belding next week. Belding will come in at 9-1 with their lone loss coming to Cadillac. The Black Knights are riding a lot of momentum after putting up 56-points on Tri-County. Belding is making their 3rd playoff appearance in a row, and their 6th in 7 years.