By Gary Fauber
OAK HILL —
When Jalen Jones started his high school career at Mount Hope, he got a taste of the Fayette County rivalries that meant so much to so many communities. When Mount Hope closed and its students — Jones included — went to Oak Hill, the Red Devils’ jump to Class AAA included no rivalries.
That changed Friday, in a historic way.
Woodrow Wilson and Oak Hill met for the first time since 2003, and the Red Devils took the drama out early. Jarrell Green’s 86-yard return of the opening kickoff put Oak Hill ahead 14 seconds into the game, then Jones and K.K. Goodman took over, leading the Class AAA No. 11 Red Devils to a 34-6 win in front of a packed crowd at John P. Duda Stadium.
“Man, the rivalry is crazy,” Jones said. “I didn’t know it was that big. Coming from Mount Hope, playing Fayetteville and all them was a big rivalry. But I never knew Beckley and Oak Hill was a big rivalry until now. The Oak Hill community was just going crazy.”
And that was just the pregame banter. Jones and Co. gave the Oak Hill faithful even more reason for excitement.
A week after getting dominated by Class AA No. 1 Bluefield, Oak Hill (7-2) turned in arguably its best performance of the season. It was coach Eddie Souk’s first experience in the Woodrow-Oak Hill rivalry, and he stayed with what he has been known for since his days as the head coach at Mount Hope.
The Red Devils ran 58 plays — 55 of them on the ground. Oak Hill finished with 417 rushing yards and 427 yards overall.
That success in the run game came despite Woodrow’s defense selling out to try to stop it.
Of Oak Hill’s three pass plays, one was intercepted and another was a 10-yard completion from Deonte Scruggs to Marc Logan. The other was a halfback option by Jones that fell incomplete on fourth-and-10 at the Woodrow 35.
“Our strength is to run the football,” Souk said. “We can throw if we have to. They had 10 people in the box. They picked that one off; we kind of waited until a down they knew we were going to throw on. But I felt we could have thrown a little more on first and second down that would have helped us a little bit, but we were having great success running the football. I wasn’t going to change it.”
Indeed, the Flying Eagles (3-6) had no answer. Oak Hill scored in any fashion it wanted, be it on a sustained drive or with the quick burst — Jones’ 63-yard touchdown put Oak Hill ahead 21-6 on the first play of the second quarter.
That was just part of a big night for Jones, who was held to 20 yards by Bluefield. He ran for 239 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries against Woodrow.
“We’re a running team first,” Jones said. “We like to run it down your throat, but if we have to pass we can pass. We just need to be smart about things.”
“They deserved to win,” Woodrow coach John H. Lilly said. “They came to play football. They were physical.”
Green’s kickoff return seemed to set the tone. Souk said he stressed to the team the value of playing hard the entire game, and the players apparently listened.
“I was on the kids all week long about playing four quarters of football,” Souk said. “We have showed up and played second-half football every week. We just seemed sluggish the last three weeks in the first half. We came out tonight and showed we could play four quarters of football.”
Goodman also had a big night, running 19 times for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Woodrow quarterback Brent Osborne played most of the game with a leg injury after getting upended on a run on a fake punt halfway through the second quarter. The junior was 15-of-23 for 182 yards.
Ronald Blanks scored on a 16-yard touchdown run for Woodrow.
Oak Hill will close out the regular season Friday, trying to solidify its playoff positioning at home against Greenbrier East. Woodrow will wrap things up hosting Hedgesville.
It was Oak Hill’s first win in the series since 1976.
Lilly doesn’t want to see another 10 years go by before the teams’ next meeting.
“We’ll shake hands at the end of the game,” Lilly said. “What I would like for them to do, if we’re going to be the Backyard Brawl then let’s not (just) play when you’ve got one good team. Let’s play every year.”
WW (3-6) 6 0 0 0 — 6
OH (7-2) 14 7 0 13 — 34
OH—Jarrell Green 86 run (Jalen Jones kick), 11:46.
OH—K.K. Goodman 3 run (Jones kick), 5:37.
WW—Ronald Blanks 16 run (kick blocked), 3:07.
OH—Jones 63 run (Jones kick), 11:48.
OH—Green 7 run (Jones kick), 6:58.
OH—Jones 20 run (kick failed), 1:36.
RUSHING — WW: Troy Lilly 6-29, Blanks 5-25, Chase Hancock 1-1, Brent Osborne 5-(-4). OH: Jones 24-239, Goodman 19-128, Antonio Gray 5-24, Green 5-23, Deonte Scruggs 2-3.
PASSING — WW: Osborne 15-23-1-182, Hancock 1-1-0-3. OH: Scruggs 1-2-1-10, Jones 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — WW: Hancock 6-73, Noah Hancock 3-41, Blanks 3-25, Lilly 2-31, Trey Cole 2-12. OH: Marc Logan 1-10.
TAKEAWAYS — WW: Kyle Ayers (FR), Dylan Foster (INT). OH: Joey Re (INT).