Tag Archives: football

OHS Football Continues Impressive Season

By Ryan McKinney

This week marks the halfway point of the Oak Hall Eagles football season as the team continues to steam roll opponents. The Eagles have played in four games so far and have been unstoppable as the team is undefeated. 

The first game, aptly named the Kickoff Classic, came against a much larger P.K Yonge team. On the first play of the game P.K.’s running back broke loose for 20-plus yards. The Eagles got a sack on the very next play thanks to sophomore Tommy Weber, who also made his football debut in this game. “That was the perfect timing to jump the line and I just got to the quarterback as fast as possible,” Weber said. Oak Hall added a few touchdowns to pull out the close win. 

The next game was at home against Saint Joseph Academy and was delayed for a few hours due to thunderstorms. Once the game actually began, the only important play came from sophomore Briggs Copeland. While on offense, he broke free and gained speed passing everybody on the field and got the big rushing touchdown to give Oak Hall the win. 

Sophomore Briggs Copeland, #24, waits for the snap

The next home game, against Bishop Snyder, was supposedly going to be the toughest matchup for the Eagles this year. This was not the case, as Oak Hall scored touchdowns left and right including touchdown catches from senior Neil Ruth and junior Carter Dykes, and touchdown rushes from sophomore Dakota Brower and junior Abram Jerkins. Ruth’s touchdown was such an amazing catch that it won WCJB’s “All Area Play of the Week”. Overall, Oak Hall handled business against Bishop Snyder and won 49-12. 

The most recent game was away against Seven Rivers where our Eagles had a field day in the Warriors stadium. The most highlighted player in this game, in my opinion, is Copeland as he had nine carries for 109 yards, averaging 12 yards per carry. These stats are amazing, but along with the aforementioned stats, he also capped off his performance with four rushing touchdowns, including one for 49 yards. Overall, the Eagles played great and got the away win 48-21. There isn’t a hidden secret to the Eagles’s success, however. It all comes down to fundamentals and coaching. “Our coaches really know what they’re doing,” mentioned Copeland.

The Eagles face five more teams in the regular season, including four road games and one home game. The final home game on Oct. 21 is not only the Homecoming game, the game where we recognize our football and cheerleading seniors, but it’s also against rival St. Francis. 

Go Eagles!

Photo by Evelyn Baker-Moore for the Aerie

Super Bowl LVI Preview

By Ryan McKinney

Journalist Ryan McKinney gives us a preview of this year’s Super Bowl, and his prediction as to which team will take home the trophy.

On Feb. 13, the National Football League (NFL) brings us an unusual matchup in Super Bowl LVI. 

The Los Angeles Rams will host the Super Bowl as the team prepares for a matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are led by young star and “Comeback Player of the Year” Joe Burrow. During Burrow’s 2021 rookie season, he tore his ACL in Week 11 but went through rehab and came back this season better than ever. Burrow is joined by former LSU teammate and 2022 Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase. This dynamic duo has been unstoppable this season, breaking many records and leading their team to the championship game. 

On the other side of the story, the Rams are led by veteran Matthew Stafford. Ever since leaving Detroit, Stafford has become the perfect leader for the Rams. Stafford is joined by 2022 “Offensive Player of the Year” Cooper Kupp. Kupp has had one of the most spectacular seasons of any wide receiver as he is seeking to break the record for most receiving yards in a single season in this year’s Super Bowl.

On the defensive side of the field, the Rams are led by many veterans including Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Leonard Floyd. These defensive players have contributed to the majority of the team’s success. The Bengals defense has struggled a bit this year but is strongly held together by safety Jessie Bates III. 

The Bengals have been upsetting teams throughout the playoffs and defeating top competitors. These teams include the number one seeded Tennessee Titans, and the number two seeded Kansas City Chiefs. Along with the Bengals, the Rams also had a challenging path through the playoffs as it beat the now-retired veteran Tom Brady in the NFC Semifinals. 

These two teams have competed in many tight post season games this year and both seek to win one last game. For example, Cincinnati has beaten two teams this post season, both saved by game-winning or tying field goals. The Bengals season is still alive due to the rookie kicker from the University of Florida, Evan McPherson. McPherson revealed his confidence when he was on the sidelines getting ready to kick what was then the most important field goal of his career. “Looks like we’re going to the AFC Championship,” he said, before kicking the game-winning field goal in the AFC Semifinals game. Los Angeles also competed in a close game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as the score went back-and-forth the whole game. The Rams ended up pulling out the win on a game-winning field goal as time expired. 

The Cincinnati Bengals enter the Super Bowl 10-7 as the Number 4 seed in the AFC. On the other side, the Rams record was a little bit better as it went 12-5 but were also the fourth seed in the NFC. These two teams both contain talented players, but only a small number of players have playoff experience. This shows as both team leaders, Burrow and Stafford seek to win their first Super Bowl.

I would love to see a great game between these two talented teams, but I want the Cincinnati Bengals to win the game because of their underdog mentality, and I enjoy the players on this team. Although I want the Bengals to win, I do believe the Rams have the more overall balanced, and better, roster. 

In conclusion, Super Bowl LVI should be an interesting match-up to watch as the youngsters face the veterans to see who can gain their first Super Bowl title.  

Eagles Begin Play for Postseason Glory

By Tori Kitchens

Swimming and Diving
Oak Hall’s swimming and diving team took to the pool yesterday for its district meet. Seven boys and 14-16 girls participated at the district competition. The athletes competed against Community Christian, Florida High, Maclay, North Bay Haven, St. Francis, PK Yonge, Rocky Bayou Christian, and Pensacola Catholic. Last season, the girls achieved a third-place finish in the district, while the boys placed fifth.

Having several goals this season, head coach Quinn Bohan’s main goal is not to win a title, but for each athlete to grow and have fun. “The mission of our team is to help our athletes fulfill their athletic goals while here at Oak Hall,” he emphasized. 

Oak Hall’s volleyball team began its postseason run on Tuesday at Countryside Christian. As the district’s No. 1 seed, Oak Hall received a bye Monday night and defeated No. 4 seed Countryside Christian. Having beaten Countryside Christian in three sets at their gym, Coach Perry McDonald is confident in his team’s success. “Our hope is that we can win our District Championship because, if we do, we’re going to be able to come through and bring our fans at Oak Hall some really fun playoff volleyball,” he said. 

The volleyball team has not been able to bring home a district title since 2010. The Lady Eagles have a tough task at hand, as most members don’t have much experience in postseason play. “This team is poised to do what no other team in the past probably eight to 10 years has done,” McDonald shared. 

McDonald has high hopes for his team. Besides bringing Oak Hall another district championship, his main goal is to give the girls of the team experience in the post season to grow from in the upcoming years. “We’re very lucky to have three phenomenal seniors – Cate Cannon, Sophia Aulisio, and Emi Scorpio – that are really doing a sensational job on the court guiding this team and helping them be successful,” McDonald noted. 

Both the boys and girls golf teams at Oak Hall have its district tournament at Ocala National Golf Club on Oct. 25 at 9 a.m. This tournament is an all-day 18-hole match that will be hosted by Trenton High School. 

Oak Hall’s boys’ golf team is hoping to place in the top three in order to advance to the regional tournament. The competitors include St. Francis, Eastside, and Trenton to name a few. Boys’ captains Lucas Katz (OHS class of 2024) and Tanmay Chandra (OHS class of 2025) both have a similar goal in mind: a back-to-back district win for the first time since 2011. “We have the best win record, I believe, in close to 15 years, so it’s looking good,” Katz shared.

On the girls’ side, the Lady Eagles must place as one of the top two teams to qualify for regionals, which shouldn’t be difficult considering the team is looking to win its third district championship in a row. Although members of the team have been strong at the district level, none of the athletes have advanced to regional competition before. Senior co-captain Amanda Malnik is hoping the team plays its best in the postseason. “We need to work on our short game and putting in particular as a team,” Malnik noted. 

Cross Country
Oak Hall’s cross country programs are hoping to bring home another district win at Alligator Lake in Lake City on Oct. 26. The girls are set to begin competition at 9 a.m. and the boys at 9:40 a.m. All teams are eligible to compete with up to 10 runners at districts. The top eight teams will qualify to the regional competition. “If we do our own jobs, we worry about ourselves, it’ll take care of itself,” Coach Edwin McTureous said. 

McTureous is confident that he will see multiple Oak Hall runners place in the top 10 in both the girls’ and boys’ competitions. Senior Lauren Jones and junior Caden Montini are currently the top runners for Oak Hall, but McTureous expects that many other of the teams’ runners have a shot at an individual district title. “If one [opponent] has an off-day, I think we have several boys that [have] a chance to win,” McTureous noted. 

After a tough season plagued by injuries, Oak Hall’s football program is getting prepared to begin its playoff run on Oct. 29. Out of 24 teams, the Sunshine State Athletic Conference (SSAC) ranks the top eight teams to continue into the playoffs. “We are guaranteed two games, so if for some reason we lost the first round, we would still be able to play in a consolation game the next week, but then that would be it,” Head Coach RJ Fuhr explained. 

Most of the Eagles’ injured players are set to return before the playoffs. Senior quarterback Georgi El-Semarani re-injured his ankle in his first game back during the regular season. Although El-Semarani does not have a set return date, he is hoping to play in the final regular season game against St. Francis. “[I am] aiming to try and be back fully by playoffs,” he said. Junior Eliah Bacchus is the only player that will not return for the playoffs, as he injured his femur. 

The team’s experience at the State Championship game last year at Bryant Stadium in Lakeland gave the Eagles a beneficial experience that is being utilized during the postseason this year.

Varsity Football Injuries: Bad Luck or Dirty Plays?

By Aiden Wacksman

Injuries have plagued the Oak Hall varsity football team this season, leaving many players on the sidelines. 

Seniors such as quarterback Georgi El-Semarani, wide receiver William Rodriguez, and running back Carter Coleman have suffered injuries. While Coleman has already returned to the field of play, and El-Semarani hopes to play on Sept. 24 against Eagle’s View High School, Rodriguez’s injury is more severe.

Although Head coach R.J. Fuhr believed that most of the injuries were “bad luck”, he argued that Coleman’s injury was caused by a late hit. The senior was bent over a pile, and a player from the opposing team slammed into him. “I was pretty upset about that because the referees didn’t call a penalty,” Fuhr explained. These injuries have been especially difficult to deal with because the team is smaller. Thus, injuries have an even greater impact. “Missing four players is almost like missing eight,” Fuhr said. 

He added that this season has been very difficult from a coaching perspective. “In my 20-plus years of coaching, this has been the hardest start to a season,” he stated. The passing of coaches Eli Walker and David Clark along with the injured players has also made things difficult for both coaches and players. “For us to be 3-0 is a testament to the kids’ resilience and toughness,” he said. 

Senior quarterback Georgi El-Semarani (R) gives freshman quarterback Dakota Brower a pep talk before the next play

Rodriguez played on the varsity football team in his freshman and sophomore years but did not spend his junior year with them. In the third game of this season, he suffered a severe injury. “I got hit on a kickoff and fell on my arm, hyperextending my elbow,” he explained. Rodriguez won’t be able to play for the next three weeks and could miss even more time. “[Not being able to play for a lengthy amount of time] sucks since it’s my senior year,” he stated. 

El-Semarani began his first full season with the varsity team this year. Unfortunately, in the second game of the season, he twisted his ankle on a quarterback draw. Now, he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to play again. 

“Our [team’s] mentality is ‘next man up’,” he explained. He trusts his teammates to take the helm, but El-Semarani is frustrated that he can’t practice or exercise. “[Just sitting on the sidelines] stinks, but it’s fun to cheer on my teammates,” he said. El-Semarani added that he was proud of the younger athletes for stepping up to the plate.

Since many of the more experienced players have been sidelined, younger athletes have been called to action. One of them is freshman backup quarterback Dakota Brower, who led the team to a thrilling 30-23 victory over Seven Rivers Christian. He threw for 182 yards, two touchdowns, and completed a last-second touchdown pass to junior tight end Dylan Provencher.

“Injuries have really made it a struggle for the team… but we have been able to overcome it,” Brower said. Similar to Fuhr, he believes that most of the injuries were bad luck. He also explained how his injured teammates have motivated him. “It really made me want to work harder and do better for them,” Brower explained. Although he feels comfortable in the role of starting quarterback, it was not easy for the team at first. “[My teammates] were still getting used to having a freshman quarterback,” he stated. 

The Hall Hub – Double Feature!

This week’s topic: The Super Bowl

On this week’s episode of the Hall Hub, we have two (not one, but TWO) very special Super Bowl editions! The first is with our sports gurus Shailey and Aiden, as they discuss the game and how Tom Brady might as well be considered the GOAT!

The second part of our double feature brings Kaylee and Jen, with what some say is the best part of Super Bowl Sunday, the commercials!

We hope you enjoy!!