Strong ground game leads Oak Park by Groves

By: Zachary Manning | Online Only | Published September 20, 2019

 Groves' Ralph Donaldson carries the ball against Oak Park High Sept. 20. Oak Park won 26-14.

Groves' Ralph Donaldson carries the ball against Oak Park High Sept. 20. Oak Park won 26-14.

Photo by Sean Work

OAK PARK –– As Birmingham Groves entered its matchup with Oak Park Sept. 20, it was going to be a battle of offense versus defense.

Through the first three games of the season, Oak Park’s offense had scored 131 points, while Groves had given up just 38.

The Knights made it very clear that they were going to attack Groves on the ground en route to their 26-14 victory. They opened the game with three straight run plays that got them to the Groves 29-yard line.

A bad snap stalled the drive, but the ground game would be a consistent theme for Oak Park throughout the game. The second possession for the Knights was four plays. Each play was a run, and the drive was capped off by a 22-yard touchdown run by Travis Boston.

“I don’t think we tackled real well, and they are really good,” Groves coach Brendan Flaherty said. “You get that combination, they’re going to run all over you, and they did.”

The Knights scored four touchdowns, three of which came on the ground. The win pushed Oak Park to 3-1 overall and kept them atop the Oakland Activities Association White Division.

“This was our statement game, let people know we aren’t playing,” Oak Park lineman Rayshuan Benny said.

Even with the Knights finding success on the ground, the Falcons were never out of striking distance. Even after Oak Park grabbed a 26-7 lead, Groves responded with a two play, 68-yard touchdown drive to cut the lead to 26-14.

Groves had a couple other chances to put points on the board in the fourth quarter. The Falcons had the ball inside the Knights’ 25-yard line twice with a chance to make it a game. One resulted in an interception and the other ended with a turnover on downs.

In the end, the loss knocked the Falcons to 3-1 overall and puts them at 1-1 in the OAA White.

“It just felt like the whole night we were constantly behind the eight ball trying to get out,” Flaherty said. “Proud of my boys. They didn’t quit. They’re great men. I love coaching them.”

Groves will look to bounce back at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at home against Troy Athens.