Oak Grove powers past O'Hara
By Shawn Roney The Examiner
Oak Grove emphatically refused to squander its rematch with O’Hara.
The Panthers, who lost to the Celtics 31-24 in Week 2, cruised to a 63-35 win Friday night at O’Hara for the Class 3 District 7 football championship. Oak Grove (10-2) piled up 519 rushing yards en route to the victory, including 290 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries and a TD reception by senior Aaron Graham.
“We ran the football well, and I thought we did a good job blocking up front,” Panthers coach Pat Richard said. “It was a good ballgame for us on offense.”
Richard and Graham agreed that having four starters Friday who didn’t play in Week 2 was key to the outcome in the rematch.
“Three of them were our linemen,” Graham said. “They worked so hard in the offseason, so it was hard without them. ... We still put up a good game ... in Week 2, but we just fell short. We knew they were hungry coming into this game, and they did a really good job.”
In avenging the loss, the Panthers secured a rematch with Maryville, which trounced St. Pius X 61-24 for the District 8 title on Friday. The Spoofhounds, who have a 42-game winning streak and are the two-time defending Class 3 state champions, defeated the Panthers 42-20 in the 2013 quarterfinals at Oak Grove.
“Hopefully, we can slow them down a little bit (and) stay close with them,” Richard said.
The Panthers will be ready, Graham suggested.
“Our saying here is, ‘Respect everybody, fear no one’ – and we don’t fear anyone,” he said. “We’re out with the same mission they have – and it’s to win the state championship. We’ve just got to win and keep going.”
The rematch is set for next Friday at Oak Grove.
“That’s the big benefit of losing to these guys (Celtics) in the regular season. ... Now, we get Maryville at home,” Richard said.
Graham believes having home-field advantage is “a big key.”
“Our fans are a big part of us,” he said. “We love the support they give us and the way they travel ... but it’s so much better to have a home game because everybody comes out and has our back. It’s good to have all that screaming and shouting going on.”
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