Oak Hall ends spring healthy, victorious

Oak Hall's Abram Jerkins (2) battles through Impact Christian defenders on Thursday.
Oak Hall's Abram Jerkins (2) battles through Impact Christian defenders on Thursday.
Photo by C.J. Gish

The Oak Hall football team had plenty to be thankful for on Thursday night in its spring game against visiting Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville).

The Eagles suffered no injuries, built a 22-6 halftime lead and cruised to a 36-20 victory to end the spring.

The two teams played three 10-minute quarters and a 12-minute running clock in the fourth quarter.

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“We’re healthy, honestly getting out of a spring game healthy is huge,” said Oak Hall coach R.J. Fuhr. “And we did some really good things. We did some good things offensively, the touchdown at the end we had a lot of young guys in there, the one touchdown we had a broken play and some missed tackles so, clean that up, but I thought we did well.”

Oak Hall played without starting running back and 2022 leading rusher Briggs Copeland, who tore his hamstring in track, but rising senior Carter Dykes stepped up and scored Oak Hall’s first touchdown on a 35-yard run. Quarterback Dakota Brower’s extra point gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 6:25 to play in the first quarter.

Oak Hall's Mike Peterson
Photo by C.J. Gish Oak Hall’s Mike Peterson Jr. (right) grabs a pass for a 2-point conversion against Impact Christian on Thursday.

That capped a 67-yard drive on only six plays.

On the first play of ICA’s next possession, sophomore Aaron Akins intercepted Lions’ quarterback Hans Price and took it back 36 yards for the score.

“He got hurt during baseball and had surgery and then came back after baseball was over and dislocated his finger and just got cleared on Wednesday to play, so I was happy that he got a couple of picks,” Fuhr said. “He’s a great athlete.”

Brower’s 2-point pass play to Mike Peterson Jr. gave the Eagles a 15-0 lead with 6:13 to play in the opening quarter. The rising junior took it away from the defender.

He also hauled in a 17-yard pass from Brower on the opening drive and added two leaping catches, including a 62-yard touchdown reception and run for a 22-6 lead with 5:26 to play in the half.

“He’s a dude,” Fuhr said. “He’s one of those guys that can jump out of the gym. You just kind of throw it up and he’s going to make a play. He’s special, so with our running game and play-action with that, we’ll be tough to stop.”

Peterson, who will be a junior in the fall, is the son of current University of Florida linebackers coach Mike Peterson.

Abram Jerkins (5’10, 230), who made a stop on a 4th-and-2 play on ICA’s second offensive possession, had a couple of good runs and provided a solid backfield with Dykes.

“I call him the minibus,” Fuhr said. “He’s like (former Pittsburgh Steeler running back) Jerome Bettis. He has great feet, very good 1-2 punch there.”

Brower, who had a 32-yard run to start the Eagles’ second offensive series, seemed in control all night directing the offense.

“He has kind of changed his body, he’s growing for one thing, but he’s really been in the weight room,” Fuhr said of his starting QB. “Running track has helped him. He’s a dual-threat guy, but he kind of has a pocket presence now and he stood in there a couple of times.”

He finished off his scoring night with a 60-yard touchdown pass to junior David Grow for a 29-6 lead on the Eagles’ first possession of the second half.

Jerkins had a pair of 10-yard runs on the 4-play, 70-yard drive.

Peterson’s younger brother, Gavin, capped the scoring for the Eagles.

Gavin, who will be an 8th-grader next year, threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to his brother and, once again, the 6’3 receiver made another leaping catch outside the 10 and then ran it in for the score.

ICA’s final score came on a 2-yard touchdown run by E’liyjah Caldwell on the final play of the game. Caldwell also had a 50-yard scoring run in the first half.

Oak Hall, which is coming off an undefeated regular season, looks to extend its playoff streak (2015-2022) to nine straight seasons in 2023.

“We’re pretty young,” Fuhr said. “I’m happy to end the spring on a good note. We’re healthy, have some good film to watch.”

But Fuhr said there is one area in particular they need to work on.

“Our pass blocking,” he said. “We’re still inconsistent with our pass blocking, and we’ve got to keep working in the weight room and conditioning, because we’re still thin. It doesn’t take much. If you lose one guy you really lose two because they play both ways. Developing these young guys to add depth, to create depth, I think is our biggest thing.”

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