White Oak to Once Again Lean On Its Offense As It Looks for Big Run in 2017
One aspect was the same and one was quite different in White Oak's win over New Diana last Friday night.
On one end, the Roughnecks' offense is as potent as it was last season, posting 54 points compared to 47 in 2016. On the other side, however, White Oak saw a different New Diana offense in its 54-51 victory.
"It was way too close for us, but New Diana is much-improved and they did a lot of good things offensively," White Oak coach Kris Iske said. "But our offense stepped it up once again and pulled through."
Owning a potent offense is the name of the game in White Oak these days. The Roughnecks scored less than 35 points in a game twice in 2016, which accounted for both of the team's losses.
The offense looks to be headed toward much of the same in 2017.
"We want ball control and of course we have the capability to make some big plays," said Iske, who noted his offense ran 98 plays against New Diana. "We don't have a lot of speed but we have a quarterback who can throw deep and wide receivers who run great routes. It's good to keep our offensive guys on the field; it's a major part of our success."
Despite missing three games in 2016 due to injury, senior quarterback Heath Hood isn't skipping a beat this season. He accounted for 477 yards of offense last Friday, with 285 yards and a touchdown through the air and another 182 yards and five scores on the ground.
"Heath really impressed me in practice during two-a-days this summer at how much more accurate he is throwing the ball compared to last year," Iske said. "He's improved, we've got receivers who have greatly improved and offensive linemen who are doing very well. As long as we can stay healthy we're going to be good offensively."
Despite giving up 51 points in its opener, White Oak's defense shows plenty of promise, Iske said. Elijah Trest, this week's ETSN.fm Defensive Player of the Week, made four sacks, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup to help secure the win.
"We just want to keep getting better every week on defense," Iske said. "We're young on defense so we're learning, and we're going to get better as every week goes. I don't want to peak right here at the beginning of the season -- let's do that in Week 10 as we head into the playoffs. It's going to be a process."
Up next for White Oak is an opponent that could mean plenty of offensive fireworks. The Roughnecks travel to Tyler to take on Bishop Gorman in a battle of two explosive offenses and quarterbacks.
Gorman junior quarterback Jake Smith is coming off a 2016 season in which he threw for 4,351 yards and 41 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions. Last Friday night in a 41-35 win over Garrison, Smith threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns, with the fifth coming on the last play to win the game. Four of the five touchdowns went to receiver Isaiah Haggerty, who finished with an incredible nine catches for 284 yards.
The Crusaders, who lost to White Oak 49-38 last season, are not strangers to putting up plenty of points. They made statewide news in 2016 after beating Ore City 91-71 in non-district.
"Hopefully we come out on top and it's not much of a shootout, but it very well could end up that way," Iske said. "They have a great quarterback and a great set of receivers, and it was a high-scoring game between us last year. It's going to be who can come up with the big plays on offense and big stops defensively."