The Golden Eagles (9-3) recovered from a three-game losing streak (Elwood, Eastbrook, Mississinewa) to end the regular season by finding their form in the postseason with wins over Madison-Grant (40-14) Bluffton (55-22), and Alexandria (35-14) in sectional play to grab their first title since 1996.
“My first impressions of them are that they’re very well-coached, they’re very physical, they bank on winning the line of scrimmage and they’re a run-dominant football team,” Tolle said. “Therein lies the game. I think it’s going to boil down to who wins that line of scrimmage.”
Oak Hill runs a wing-T/option hybrid offense that has only completed 19 passes this season, but run for nearly 4,000 yards. Four different Golden Eagles have carried the ball over 100 times, led by junior fullback Zach Daniels, who has 177 carries for 1,389 yards and 19 TDs. Junior Quarterback Derrick Randall has added 117 carries for 894 yards and seven TDs, while senior wing Nick McPike adds 138 carries for 641 yards and seven TDs. Senior wing Ethan Bowland has also proven to be a formidable option with 106 carries for 579 yards and 15 TDs.
Senior linebacker Josh Snider leads the Blue Devils’ defense with 105 tackles (73 solos).
“It’s a very difficult scheme to defend,” Tolle said. “They don’t pass the ball very often. I think the challenge there is if they don’t want to throw the ball, let’s make them throw the ball and be disciplined in the secondary, because the worst thing that could happen is you give up an easy one in the passing game when that’s not really something they want to do. We have to be very disciplined and very physical.”
Tipton will counter with a more-balanced, spread offensive attack to battle Oak Hill’s 5-2 defense.
Senior QB Austin Hooker is 75 of 136 through the air for 1,121 yards, 10 TDs and three interceptions. He’s also carried the ball 84 times for 462 yards and 12 TDs. Senior tailback Nate Hein has added 191 carries for 1,174 yards and seven TDs, while junior Brody Dell has sprinkled in 130 carries for 684 yards and nine TDs.