Don’t ask Andy Robinson about moral victories. Not after St. Frederick lost to Oak Grove in a 14-6 defensive slugfest Friday night.
After taking one on the chin, St. Frederick’s head coach shoulders the blame for the loss after the Warriors struggled to “finish” against a state-championship caliber Oak Grove team on the road.
“We didn’t finish,” Robinson said. “It’s frustrating because we didn’t finish.”
In reflecting on the Warriors' loss, Robinson's mind immediately went to one sequence. The Warriors were trailing 7-6 late in the fourth quarter Friday night against the defending Class 1A State Champions. And that's when Warrior defender Gunter Tannehill recorded an interception and returned it inside Oak Grove territory with approximately four minutes to play. A penalty on the return pushed the Warriors back before a turnover two plays later gifted the Tigers with good field position for their final scoring drive.
“That was the key moment of the game,” Robinson said. “You go from being on the plus side of the field to a penalty on the return and then you turn the ball over. Credit to them for creating the turnover. Our guys didn’t blink in the fourth quarter, though. I’ve just got to do a better job offensively to get us more points.”
Oak Grove tailback Ron Craten found the end zone on a four-yard touchdown run with two minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
St. Frederick isn't the first team to struggle against Oak Grove's defense, and it won't be the last. Three weeks ago, Oak Grove limited Class 3A state title contender Sterlington to just 12 points in a 14-12 hard-fought victory.
The Warriors struck first blood in the first quarter when senior athlete Beau Bennett tossed a 28-yard touchdown to veteran running back Nelson Sparks.
That scoring play came within the opening three minutes of the contest, and unfortunately for the Warriors, would mark St. Frederick’s only score of the game.
“They had a mishap on the snap on special teams, so we were able to get it deep in their territory early,” Robinson said. “We put out something schematically this week that we thought we would be able to execute. It was fourth down, and we ran the play and Beau made a good throw.”
Oak Grove’s defense limited St. Frederick to just 51 total yards on 38 plays, but the Warriors defense kept them in the game.
The Tigers’ powerful rush attack had to fight for everything they got on Friday night, as Oak Grove’s Craten found the end zone twice in this defensive slugfest. Craten scored from 10 yards out in the second quarter, and the extra point that followed gave the Tigers a 7-6 lead they carried for the majority of the contest.
St. Frederick defenders Jeremiah Willis, Thomas Marsala, James Mayronne and Bennett each recorded tackles for losses.
“Against their scheme, and definitely against veer-type schemes, it takes a total defensive effort to play assignment football like that,” Robinson said. “It’s so repetitive you have to be disciplined enough to do that every play. I thought Coach (Billy) Bell put a great plan together. Our guys came out and played hard. We kept scratching and fighting and clawing. It’s disappointing to lose the game, but to go on the road and play a championship-caliber team like Oak Grove like that, there are some positives you can take from it.”
The challenge now for St. Frederick is to avoid all distractions that go hand-in-hand with homecoming, as the Warriors host Sicily Island Friday night.
“We just have to keep our head down and correct mistakes,” Robinson said. “There will be a ton of distractions, but we have to focus on the football game.”