Oakleaf topped Gainesville 37-6 at home on Friday night, led by a driven group of talented upperclassmen.
While the end result wasn’t what they hoped for, Gainesville’s defense and special teams showed up to play early. Oakleaf’s first two drives ended in three-and-outs, including one punt block that set the Hurricane offense up in good field position. However, the stout Oakleaf defense never allowed Gainesville to capitalize, and blocked an Alex Hood field goal attempt.
Highly-touted Oakleaf quarterback Walter Simmons III scored on an 80-yard read-option keeper on the last play of the 1st quarter, which opened the floodgates for the Knights’ attack. After somewhat of a sloppy start through the air for Simmons, he seemed to get into a rhythm with his receivers in the second quarter.
Junior Terrence Anthony led the way for the Knights receiving core, with multiple first-down grabs and an 11-yard touchdown over the middle to make it 15-0. After another stop featuring a Chantz Williams strip-sack, Oakleaf marched down the field behind the arm and legs of Simmons, topped off by an Adrian Grey touchdown run.
Frustrations Abound for Gainesville
Hoping to gain some momentum before district play after an 0-2 start, the Hurricanes couldn’t seem to get out of their own way. Damian Rogers struggled kicking the ball Friday for Oakleaf, but Gainesville was unable to capitalize on multiple missed field goals as well as the early punt block.
At halftime, Coach Patrick Miller couldn’t pinpoint anything specific to improve after the break, saying they simply had to “start playing football.”
The Hurricanes made a QB swap to start the second half, switching from Rod Williams to Jacob Hanson. After a missed Damian Rogers field goal, Gainesville took over early in the 3rd quarter and picked up a few quick first downs with Hanson and running back KZ Hutchinson.
However, a fumble and 15-yard penalty stalled the drive, followed by an exciting pass deflection at the line of scrimmage by Chantz Williams on 3rd down.
Oakleaf Leaders Envision Special Season
It’s only Head Coach Frank Garis’s second year at the helm for Oakleaf, but expectations are high behind a trio of highly recruited players. Senior linemen Jalen Rivers and Chantz Williams are headed to Miami, and junior quarterback Walter Simmons is undecided.
Williams, rated by 247 Sports as the #4 defensive end prospect in the nation, stressed that a state championship is the expectation for the Knights. Additionally, Williams said that the plan has always been for him and Rivers to play together at the next level.
Simmons additionally stressed that a state title is undoubtedly the team’s expectation. Simmons also says that Georgia Tech and UCF are among the schools recruiting him the hardest.
— Jake Lehman (@Jake_lehman_) September 14, 2019
Oakleaf remains at home next Friday night, taking on Ed White High School, and opens district play the following week at Sandalwood. Gainesville will be on the road again next Friday at North Marion, hoping to earn their first win.