WHITE OAK — The season opener is still a week away, but White Oak looked like it was in mid-season form Thursday night.
The Roughnecks’ first-team offense scored on all six of its possessions and the defense forced two turnovers in a 42-6 scrimmage win over Elysian Fields at Roughneck Stadium.
“I think we played efficiently overall,” White Oak coach Gerry Stanford said. “The kids did a good job of really just staying level-headed. They didn’t get too up, didn’t get down low when we made mistakes. We just kept playing ball and tried to be as consistent as we could, but understanding that we’re still on the road of progress.
“We’re trying to get better each week for that gauntlet of a schedule we start next week.”
White Oak’s offense was sharp throughout and didn’t waste much time getting on the scoreboard and asserting its dominance early.
The Roughnecks needed just three plays and 55 seconds to go 70 yards on a drive capped by Riley Lakin’s 34-yard touchdown run. Defensive back Gabe Michael came up with an interception on Elysian Fields’ first play, setting up another White Oak score, this time on quarterback Dylan Gale’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Josh Benson.
The Roughnecks added two more scores before the first quarter ended, extending the lead on Gale’s 57-yard touchdown to Jansen McCurdy and then stretching it to 28-0 on Gale’s 9-yard touchdown run.
Gale was efficient in the six series, hitting nine of his first 10 passes and finishing the night 16 of 23 for 226 yards and four scores, plus the rushing touchdown.
“I have a year under my belt at quarterback and I think everybody’s comfortable with the system,” Gale said. “I think we’re doing pretty good.”
The White Oak defense continued its strong play against a young Elysian Fields team that lost key playmakers from its state semifinal run last year. The Yellowjackets scored their lone touchdown in the fourth quarter against White Oak reserves.
“We saw a different style of team this week than we saw last week (against Hughes Springs),” Stanford said. “Last week it was a Slot-T offense. This week a spread offense. We didn’t prepare for it. We wanted to see how the kids responded to a situation they don’t see very much. I thought we responded well against a team that’s going to be a very well-run, playoff team.”
Gale lobbed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Nichols to push the lead to 35-0 early in the second quarter, a margin that held to halftime. The Roughnecks’ starters racked up 293 yards on just five first-half possessions while successfully employing a hurry-up attack.
“I really thought going through the game we were slow as far as how fast we were going,” Stanford said. “Then the defensive staff for the other team said we took 49 snaps in the first half. That’s a lot of snaps. On average, most teams take about 30 a half. So we try to push those limits and get more than 72 a game. And we were able to do that tonight. It’s a conditioning deal, mentally and physically.”
The first-team offense only played one series in the second half, but needed just two plays to score when Gale hit Michael for a 30-yard touchdown, making the senior the fourth receiver to haul in a touchdown in the game as the second-year starting quarterback spread the ball around.
“If one guy’s not open, I always know that another guy is,” Gale said. “Even if they’re a backside route, they always run 100 percent, full speed. So I don’t ever have to rely on one guy.”
Elysian Fields will open its season at Corrigan-Camden. White Oak and Redwater will face off at Gilmer’s Buckeye Stadium in zero week in a series that is tied 1-1 since Stanford took over at White Oak.
“We’ve not traditionally fared very well against Redwater,” Stanford said. “They’ve always done a great job. They’re a very well-rounded, physical team coached by Tommy Graf, who does a great job there. We’ve got our work cut out for us. it’s going to be a physical game.”
(Follow Jimmy Carter on Twitter @jimmy__carter)