Oakes helps pull out win in first start as Clarence quarterback
If that means handing the ball to Emaure Williams, Ben Reinhardt and Vince Taverna all night long, he’ll do that. And if he needs to scramble around and make a season-saving pass, he’s capable of that, too.
Thanks to a powerful rushing attack and one big pass by Oakes, the junior got the only thing he wanted out of his first varsity start — a victory. And those that thought the Red Devils’ season was headed down the drain without Armstrong might have to think again.
“We faced a lot of adversity this week,” Oakes said. “But we came through in the end. I feel like I did my part; everyone did their part and we became even more of a team. Our senior leadership really came through this week.”
Oakes has delivered at the varsity level before. He scored 15 goals as a sophomore last season and helped Clarence to an ECIC-I championship in lacrosse. In football, he was the junior varsity starter last year and likely the varsity starter next season.
But when Armstrong suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in a Week 2 loss to Frontier, Oakes’ time became now.
“He’s capable; we have confidence in him,” Clarence coach Mark Layer said. “That’s why he’s the one out there doing it. It was a tough situation, but Lex has been practicing for this. He was the JV starter, so we know he can play. He just did a tremendous job.”
The numbers from his first start might not seem spectacular — he completed 5 of 9 passes for 78 yards and was intercepted twice. But with his team down four points in the final minutes and facing a fourth-and-nine situation, Oakes did his part with one amazing play.
Facing heavy pressure, he scrambled to his left all the way to the hashmark, reversed his course, stopped and found Taverna all alone near midfield.
The senior running back raced down the right sideline all the way to the 12-yard line. One play later, Clarence scored the winning touchdown.
“I was getting pressure from the front,” Oakes explained. “I rolled out to my left and realized everyone was covered. My running back said he was going to be in the back, hoping for any kind of a screen pass or anything like that. I just rolled back and threw him the ball.”
It’s unlikely that anyone could replace Armstrong, a second-year varsity starter who is headed to the University of Pittsburgh to play baseball next season, but Oakes’ teammates are confident he can capably handle the position.
“Lex had a tough situation, but he did real well,” Williams said. “Mark went down, but Lex stepped up as a football player. He’s been in this situation before, in lacrosse he’s stepped up and played varsity sports. He just did what he had to do.”