Tag Archives: varsity 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

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. 

OHS Football Soars Using 8-Man System

By Brian Storey

Oak Hall School has fielded an 11-man football team since 2006. But for the 2020 season, the program went to the 8-man style of play. The decision was made due to the lack of players. Instead of being part of the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) for football, the team is now part of the Sunshine State League along with 14 other teams. Head Coach RJ Fuhr said that roster size was one of the reasons the change was made, but safety was also a priority. “We felt like going into the 11-man season with 16 kids wasn’t what was in the best interest of our kids,” he said.

8-man and 11-man football have many differences. Both versions have the same procedures, rules, and structure because regardless of the total number of athletes on the field, football is football. Some differences between the two include field size, the number of players on the field, jersey number restrictions, how to score extra points, types of formations, and kickoffs just to name a few. 

With 11-man football, the field is 100 yards long and 50 yards wide. In 8-man football however, the field can either be 80 or 100 yards long and must be 40 yards wide. It is up to the home team to decide how long they want their field to be. For example, Oak Hall’s field is 100 yards long which tends to make the offensive drives longer than if we were playing at Master’s Academy (Vero Beach) which is only 80 yards. 

Oak Hall’s varsity football team is implementing the 8-man system this season

Of course, there is the obvious difference between the two formats being that in 8-man, there are only eight players on the field where in 11-man, there are 11 players of the field. This causes the offensive and defensive formations to look a little different. In 8-man there must be five players on the line of scrimmage, three of those being a center and two guards. If a team decides to have five linemen (a center, two guards and two tackles), and then have two wings, then the tackles are tight ends because they become eligible to receive a pass.  From a defensive point of view, teams have a lot of options.  If the team has a safety, it’s pretty useless because the majority of teams are run heavy teams instead of a passing or balanced team. 

Having those three fewer people makes kicking field goals very hard since one side of the line will have one less person, causing that side easier to blitz from. Also, most teams don’t have field goal posts. Instead, after a touchdown teams will go for two points by scoring from the 5-yard line.

In 8-man, kickoffs don’t exist. Instead, the drive automatically starts on the 25-yard line. Despite the fact that the teams don’t do kickoffs, teams are\ still allowed to punt (which often has the same effect as when kicking a field goal partially due to the lack of blockers and because most of the time, 8-man teams don’t have someone who can kick very well). 

While there are many differences in 8-man vs. 11-man, when you get down to it, it’s still football. Many people are realizing this because in recent years, there has been an increase in the number of 8-man teams in Florida since there are many small schools that can’t compete with the more populated schools that have a larger talent pool of student-athletes. For this football season, as the coronavirus has changed how the team practices, travels for away games, and even how the players get water during practice and games, it appears the 8-man Oak Hall team is a good fit for the school. “I am so glad we made the decision to go to 8-man and am very proud of how our team has bought into playing 8 man and also buying into our new offensive system,” Fuhr said. At the end of the day, football games are being played, there hasn’t been an outbreak of COVID-19 at Oak Hall, and the team is undefeated…a highlight to any season.

Football Team Plays On Through Pandemic

By August Ewert-Harpold

The Oak Hall School football team is following stringent guidelines to stay safe and in the game all season. In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, the team has adopted multiple precautionary measures designed to keep the team players as safe as possible. The coaches have been following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines as well as those of the National Federation of State High Schools (NFHS) and Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA). Head coach RJ Fuhr, along with the rest of the coaching staff have been very conscious of safety this season. Some of the measures that they have implemented, due to the FHSAA’s rules include “social distancing, mask wearing when possible, and limits to players in locker rooms”.

Before the games and practices all players must wear masks. Players also have to bring their own water bottles to hydrate. In addition, when conditioning occurs, all the players stay socially distanced. The game ball is also cleaned and disinfected between offensive series. With tackling during practices, the coaches have decided to limit the number of times this occurs. The restrictions and guidelines have not kept the team down. “I don’t think any of my teammates are worried,” said one of the team captains, senior Andrew Pickens. “We understand the pros and cons of playing football and it’s a choice we’ve made,” he continued. 

The OHS varsity football team utilizes the gym during a rainy afternoon, as all players and coaches wear masks for safety

In addition to Pickens, Carter Coleman, Jake Gill, and Brian Storey have stepped up their game as captains, to keep the team safe, and making sure that everyone is following the rules they were given by the coaches. “I feel totally safe and trust my coaches completely,” Pickens noted. “Everyone is really fired up and we’ve been rallying around each other.” 

During the summer the team didn’t use the weight room and were practicing social distancing on the field. The team is now practicing four days a week after school, with games on Friday nights as long as all goes well. 

Even though there are a lot of limitations to playing during a pandemic, Fuhr believes his players have adapted to the uncertainty of the season. “They are very cooperative and I’m very proud of their ability to handle adversity and how flexible and coachable they have all been,” he said.