A fast start will change your perspective on a game in a hurry.
The Oak Creek football team will testify to that after its 41-14 Southeast Conference win over Racine Horlick on Friday.
It took all of about 1 minute, 25 seconds for the Knights to take a 14-0 lead on the Rebels. Jamie Smith burst 66 yards for a score on Oak Creek's third play from scrimmage and then an extra point and a kickoff and one play more after that, it was 14-0 as linebacker Jake Regazzi tipped a Horlick pass, snagged it out of the air and went 20 yards the other way for an easy pick 6.
Padding lead early
The Knights would add a 7-yard run from Steve Stillwell and get a 33-yard dash for a score from Derrick Stephan all before the end of the first 12 minutes, as they went up 27-0.
"No question that made life easier on us," said Knights coach Mike Bartholomew. "We were able to take advantage of short fields, but I still think we have a ways to go on offense. From that point on though, we played it pretty close to the vest. I wasn't going to go for it on fourth down and short on my side of the 50, even it was an inch."
"In a situation like that, there's no way you want to flip the field and give them a chance to breathe."
And with a season that's going up-and-down on the Knights, that proved to be a sound strategy, as they evened their league record at 1-1 and their overall mark at 2-2. They gained some valuable momentum heading into their rivalry game at Franklin (2-0, 3-1) at 7 p.m. Sept. 20.
Oak Creek beat the Sabers 24-7 last season, but behind hard-charging quarterback Sean McGuire, the Sabers are contending for a Southeast Conference title and are coming off a 58-21 rout of Kenosha Bradford on Friday. Interestingly enough, it'll be Oak Creek's first game on a natural grass field this season.
"We're going to be in for a challenge on both sides of the ball," said Bartholomew. "Their defense does a great job (against the run), they have a great quarterback, good receivers and the running back (Chad Walton) is about the best I've seen since I've been here (14 years).
"This is always a big game. The kids know where it is on the schedule and they're excited for it."
Starting fast again
Bartholomew would like to see a repeat of the first quarter against Horlick where the Knights hit on all cylinders, especially on the defensive side. The Rebels were still without star quarterback Rickey Neal, Jr., and Oak Creek was able to force five turnovers (as opposed to no giveaways for themselves).
Bartholomew was especially praiseworthy of the defensive front, including Peter Mitchell, Jordan Frentz, Sam Johnson, Mitch Olsen, Tory Purpora and Justin Dzibinski. Linebackers Nate Windsor and Regazzi also came in for accolades.
"We're playing much harder up front," said Bartholomew. "I haven't graded the film yet but our defensive front controlled the game and put pressure on the quarterback."
"We're still starting only four or five seniors on defense, but they've gotten better. They're much more disciplined."
The defense picked up another score in the fourth quarter when Johnson picked up a fumble and rumbled 41 yards to the end zone.
The backs also ran hard, too, as the Knights had not one, but two running backs go over 100 yards on the night. Stephan, who added a 70-yard TD run in the fourth quarter, finished with 164 yards on 13 carries while Smith had 139 yards on just nine tries.
Overall, Oak Creek finished with 325 total yards on the ground on 32 carries, an average of 10 yards a pop.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Sports Shorts: Dec. 5
- Experienced Mitchell lands All-Suburban spot for Oak Creek
- Top-ranked Oak Creek girls basketball team has high goals this season
- Top-ranked Oak Creek girls basketball team defeats King, cruises to 2-0
- Friendly rivals: Franklin swimmers help Oak Creek when repairs needed
- Sport Shorts: Nov. 14
- Sports Shorts: Oct. 31
- Quintet off and running to state
- Speed just too much for Oak Creek football in loss
- Social media story: Prep football playoffs: Division 1 Level 1