Oakman hopes lengthy road trip pays off
by Johnathan Bentley
Nov 15, 2012 | 1583 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Oakman’s Deontre Muse (8) pulls away from a Goshen defender during their first-round playoff game last week. The Wildcats play at Mobile Christian today in the second round. Photo by Jeff Johnsey
Oakman’s Deontre Muse (8) pulls away from a Goshen defender during their first-round playoff game last week. The Wildcats play at Mobile Christian today in the second round. Photo by Jeff Johnsey
Oakman’s hit the road plenty of times this season.

The Wildcats played at Uniontown, Northside and closed the regular-season with three straight road trips.

Those were nothing compared to this week’s jaunt.

Oakman plays at Mobile Christian in a Class 2A second-round playoff game on Friday. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. from Harrison Field.

The trip is so long — 245 miles — that Oakman left a day early to avoid spending the bulk of Friday on a bus.

Oakman was moved to Region 4, a South region, this season. The result has meant several distant road games as well as playoff matchups involving teams located several counties away. Of the teams left in the Class 2A playoffs, Mobile Christian is the furthest school from Oakman.

The closest team remaining is Fultondale — only 44 miles away.

Eighth-ranked Oakman (10-1) takes a 10-game winning streak into the matchup against the Leopards. The Wildcats dropped the season-opener to Parrish, but have been mowing down the competition since, including last week’s 25-6 win over Goshen in the first-round of the playoffs.

Despite the success, Oakman coach Mark Hastings said the Wildcats haven’t played their best game just yet.

Friday would be a perfect time for it.

“Some weeks we’ve done just enough to win. Some weeks we’ve looked really good,” Hastings said. “I still believe our best game is out there. We’ve made some mistakes in every game. If we really put it together, we could be pretty decent.”

Oakman is in the second round of the playoffs for the second straight season and the seventh time overall. A win on Friday would put the Wildcats into the third round for only the third time in school history — and first since 1995.

“This is a place Oakman hasn’t been many times. We know that. The kids really want to leave their mark. All those factors play in this week,” Hastings said.

Last week against Goshen, Oakman running back Chris Austin gained 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 19 carries. Quarterback Jase Trotter threw for 130 yards and a score.

Austin has rushed for nearly 1,300 yards on the season while Trotter has topped the 1,700-yard mark along with 22 touchdown and six interceptions.

“Chris has been able to produce about like Logan Guthrie did last year. That’s saying a lot,” Hastings said. “Jase is about where he was last year, but we are still waiting on a breakout game from him. He’s been steady all year and he’s had a couple of good games, but he hasn’t had that signature game this year. We know he’s got that in him.”

Mobile Christian, the No. 3 seed from 2A, Region 1, opened the playoffs with a 27-14 win at Providence Christian. The Leopards (8-3) snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory.

Mobile Christian opened the season 7-0 before region losses to No. 4 Washington County (21-0) and No. 5 Sweet Water (42-7) as well as a loss to Class 5A No. 4 Spanish Fort (52-6).

Last week, running back Tyler Rogers paced the Leopards, rushing 22 times for 162 yards and a touchdown while quarterback Josh McNickle threw for a pair of touchdowns.

“They’ve got a pretty good team. They have a really strong running back. They can throw it, but they rely on their quarterback,” Hastings said. “They are big up front. We’ve faced teams that are bigger than us, but these guys are really big. I think it’s going to be a physical game. I hope we hold up our end. They are so dang big that just having to hit them in itself is enough to wear on you.”

Today’s game marks Oakman’s four road game in the last five weeks.

“I’ve been pleased with our crowds. In those last three road games (Aliceville, Cold Springs and Berry), we had more people than the home team did. I think we will have a pretty good showing (today),” Hastings said.

NOTES: Mobile Christian has had a football team since 1975. The Leopards joined the AHSAA in 2006. ... Mobile Christian won an AISA-AAA title in 1995. ... The Leopards score an average of 25.7 points per game and allow 23.7 points per game. ... Oakman’s 398 points this season are the second-most in school history. Only the 2003 team scored more (451). ... The Wildcats score an average of 36.2 points per game while allowing 21 points per game.