History repeated itself Friday night as Oak Hall dismantled district rival Saint Francis for the second time this season. Oak Hall also managed to rewrite history. Its regional quarterfinal beat-down of Saint Francis marked the school’s first FHSAA playoff win in its history.
The victory was RJ Fuhr’s first playoff win with Oak Hall, in his first full season as head coach of the team.
“I’m really happy for the kids,” Fuhr said. “It’s a testament to these kids and how hard they’ve worked.”
Oak Hall paired a dynamic offensive performance with sound defensive play and won 47-0. The Eagles’ defense dominated its way to its first shutout of the year.
“It’s amazing we were able to get the shutout,” said Oak Hall defensive coordinator Alphonso Rawls. “When everyone just plays hard, plays their responsibility, you can get it done.”
Eagles spread their wings offensively
Six different players found the end zone for Oak Hall, despite missing two of its top producers on offense. Sophomore Ryan Nolan and freshman Jacarree Kelly did not play due to an undisclosed team violation.
“I kind of used that as a motivating factor for the team,” Fuhr said. “Let’s make sure that their season’s not over. Let’s win for them, so they can be back practicing next week.”
Sophomore quarterback Cole Gonzales accounted for five scores, including three through the air. Gonzales faked a counter, escaped the grasp of a potential tackler and dove for his second rushing score.
“I don’t know how I stayed on my feet on that one,” Gonzales said. “I saw there was a guy sitting there and he came down and hit me in the leg, so I sort of spun with him and the next thing I know I was in the end zone.”
Looking to the future
Saint Francis (3-8) saw its season come to an end, but head coach Scott McDaniel sees a promising future for his squad.
“We got a lot of guys that can play coming back,” McDaniel said. “Our best offensive player is a sophomore. Our best defensive player is a sophomore. We’ve got some dudes around them that can play.”
Oak Hall (8-3) travels to Winter Garden, Florida, on Nov. 15 to take on the Foundation Academy (8-2). The Eagles face a tough challenge in upsetting the two-seeded Lions.
“We’ve got to play all facets of the game,” Fuhr said. “At this point, there’s not a whole lot you can add or change. We’ve got all hands on deck.”