By Mike Bush
Riding the momentum of 11- and 14-point wins in its first two games, the Oak Ridge High varsity football team hosted former Sierra Valley Conference rival Cordova Friday in nonleague action. Scoring early and often, the Trojans rolled to a 59-0 win over the once mighty Lancers.
The victory improves Troy to 3-0 while Cordova falls to 0-3.
Oak Ridge now takes its perfect record on the road for two final nonleague games, starting with Friday’s annual showdown with Del Oro.
Cordova penetrated Oak Ridge territory just three times — once in the first half that ended with a Trojan sack of Lancer quarterback Mike Hicks on fourth and 2, and twice in the second.
“It’s just like we prepared for,” Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere said about his team’s success clamping down on the Lancer offense.
Oak Ridge jumped all over Cordova in the first quarter, scoring twice to set the tone for the night. Running back Preston Dean scored on a 20-yard off-tackle play with 8:24 left and Jon David Smith hit one of his eight extra points for a 7-0 lead.
After an exchange of possessions, Blake Martin took the handoff from quarterback Jason Samuels, cut back, turned upfield and raced 25 yards to paydirt.
Samuels threw two touchdown passes in the first half — the first to wide receiver Dylan Collie, who hauled in a 56-yard pass with 11:36 left.
“One of my favorite routes is coming across the middle,” Collie said about the slant pattern he ran on the scoring play. “When I have an opportunity like that, I take full advantage of it.”
“We tried to mix it up a little bit and show some balance,” Cavaliere said. “We’ve always been a balanced offense. That’s what we tried to accomplish tonight and I think we did.”
The rout was on as the Trojans continued to build their lead once the game resumed. After Smith booted a 23-yard field goal with 6:30 left in the half, Collie burned the Cordova secondary and was all alone in the end zone for Samuels’ 18-yard strike that upped Troy’s lead to 38-0 with 1:59 left.
Oak Ridge piled up 275 total yards, 211 passing, in the first half. Cordova was held to just 3 yards thanks to the Oak Ridge “D,” which stuffed the Lancer running backs behind the line of scrimmage all night.
Collie, who had nine receptions for 168 yards, scored his third and final touchdown with 9:08 in the third quarter, juking the Lancers’ inside linebackers on a 6-yard slant to put Troy up 45-0.
Samuels, a junior, completed 13-of-15 passes for 229 yards and no interceptions. Sophomore Jacob Sipes led the Trojans in the final two scoring drives. With a running clock in the fourth quarter, Sipes hit fullback Jake Hamilton on a 9-yard pass with 11:23 left.
Equally impressive in the Trojan win was the contribution of running back Shay Mueller. Coming off an injury, Mueller rushed for all of his 93 yards in the second half.
“He stepped right in and did a heck of a job,” Cavaliere said of Mueller. “There wasn’t any plan on whom would play when. We’ve got a good mix — a small handful of running backs that we have a lot of faith in. He got his opportunity and he took full advantage.”
There were plenty of bright spots for Cavaliere, including Ben Sweet’s 100 return yards and Smith, who not only booted eight PATs and a field goal, three of his kickoffs were touchbacks.
The Trojans finished with 462 total yards; 257 passing and 205 rushing. The Lancers had 66 yards with 44 through the air.
The Oak Ridge junior varsity team started the night on a high note, cruising to a 42-0 victory in the early game.