BY DAN STICKRADT
OXFORD — Bud Rowley gets asked a lot of questions these days.
Who is going to replace Mr. Football Prescott Line and towering lineman Collin Goetz, who plowed room for Line using his 6-foot-7, 260-pound frame last season? Those are just two routine questions he hears all of the time.
Oxford lost a quality senior class overall — five who are playing in college — from a team that finished 7-3 overall, including tied for second in the deep Oakland Activities Association White Division in 2011.
The Wildcats, who had their streak of 28 straight winning seasons snapped in 2010, bounced back to reach the postseason for the 17th time under Rowley and could be one of the better teams in the OAA-White again this season. They are going to be more balanced than last year, when they rode the legs of Line, now at Southern Methodist, and a powerful offensive line.
“I still think we’re going to be fine,” said Rowley, who is in his 36thseason with the Wildcats. “We have some good football players.”
Sophomore Glacier Wallington (5-9, 175) is one of those “good football players” and is on his way to potential stardom. A three-sport varsity athlete as a freshman, Wallington earned All-OAA White Division honors as a ninth-grader, playing in eight games for the Wildcats and showing flashes of what is to come.
Wallington will still receive plenty of protection from the likes of senior linemen Zach Hadron (6-2, 230) and Logan Money (6-4, 270), who were part of the wide bodies in the trenches last season. Senior Andrew Davis (5-10, 180) is another powerful player who plays much bigger than his frame.
“Glacier is going to be a good,” smiled Rowley. “We saw what he is caopable of last season.”
The running game will feature sophomores Chase Lalla (5-9, 170) and Scott Stubenrausch (5-6, 160), both who played varsity last season as freshmen, teaming up with juniors Kyle Reason (5-10, 175) and Jeremy White (5-10, 170), senior Vinnie Griffith (5-10, 190), freshman John Parker (5-9, 160) and senior Liam Logan (6-0, 170), another standout wrestler who did not play football last season.
While not known as a passing team, the lightning-quick Wallington has improved his passing skills and will have multiple targets this season. Senior Kyle Anderson (6-4, 210) was hurt in an auto accident last season and only played a third of the season. He will be the top tight end. Senior Nathaniel Brubaker (6-4, 210) is a sure-handed receiver who will roam the flanks along with senior Brennen Orr (5-10, 180).
Marty Giannola (6-0, 180), one of several standout wrestlers in the program, leads the linebackers unit. Last year the aforementioned Line dominated in that position as well, setting a school record for tackles, and that will leave the door open for others to contribute.
Senior Piper Thaler (6-2, 210), who became the school’s first All-State lacrosse player last spring, is the top returning lineman, while Money, Hadorn and Davis will also be key factors near the line of scrimmage. Junior Richard Martin (6-3, 230), who will play on both sides of the football, could be another player used to plug some holes.
Many of the team’s running backs and receivers will also fill in the secondary to try to swipe some passes this season.
The OAA White Division was one of the state’s better league’s last season, as five members reached the postseason, including Oxford, Farmington Harrison, Southfield, Rochester Adams and Farmington. North Farmington, which also reached the postseason coming out of the OAA Blue Division last season, makes the shift to the OAA-White this season.
“There’s going to some good teams in our league. We’ll be ready,” snarled Rowley.
HEAD COACH: Bud Rowley, 36th season (38th overall) (228-110-1).
ASSISTANT COACHES: Dave Brown, Kyle Rowley, Bill Keenist Jr., Luis Gomez.
2011 RECORD: 7-3, 5-2 OAA White Division (tied-second); Postseason: Lost to Rochester Adams (26-20) in Division 2 pre-district.
POSTSEASON APPEARANCES: 17, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011.
RETURNING STARTERS: Glacier Wallington, soph. QB-DB (5-9, 175); Logan Money, sr. OL (6-4, 270); Piper Thaler, sr. DL (6-2, 210); Andrew Davis, sr. OL-DL (5-10, 180); Zach Hadorn, sr. OL-DT (6-2, 230); Marty Giannola, sr. LB (6-0, 180).
KEY PROSPECTS: Chase Lalla, soph. FB-OLB (5-9, 170); Scott Stubenrausch, soph RB-DB (5-6, 160); Nathaniel Brubaker, sr. WR-SE (6-4, 185); Liam Logan, sr. RB (6-0, 170); Kyle Anderson, sr. TE-OLB (6-4, 210; injured last season); Matt Strzelecki, jr. TE-LB (6-1, 190); Vinnie Griffith, sr. LB-FB (5-10, 190); Brennen Orr, sr. WR-SE (5-10, 180); Kyle Reason, jr. RB-OLB (5-10, 175); Joseph Regan, jr. RB-OLB (5-10, 180). Richard Martin, jr. OL-DL (6-3, 230); John Parker, fr. RB-DB (5-9, 160); Jeremy White, jr. RB (5-10, 170).
NOTABLES: Gone are four standout players who are now on college rosters, including Mr. Football Prescott Line (southern Methodist) and lineman Collin Goetz (Central Michigan).the Wildcats do welcome back Glacier Wallington, who was an rare all-league QB as a freshman and a host of experience players. Oxford has several multi-sport athletes coming from basketball, lacrosse and wrestling. They likely won’t put up the gaudy numbers like last season, but should have enough to stay in the upper echelon of the OAA-White.
To submit information to www.northoaklandsports.com, e-mail email@example.com. To advertise, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow us on Twitter @LocalSportsFans and more than a dozen other social media networks.
FOR MORE FOOTBALL COVERAGE: http://northoaklandsports.com/?s=Football&x=12&y=12
Have photos or video of this event that you wish to share? E-mail pertinent information to www.northoaklandsports.com Senior Editor Dan Stickradt at email@example.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.