The Oakland-Craig football team is one win away from returning to the Class C2 State Championship game for the second straight season.
The last obstacle between the Knights and Lincoln are the undefeated Ord Chanticleers, who will host Oakland-Craig this Friday.
Ord finished the regular season unbeaten at 7-0, with two games cancelled due to COVID-19. Those games included vs a winless Twin River on October 9, and what would have been the regular season finale against 4-2 Gibbon on October 22. Ord did play Sutton in a make-up game on the 9th, winning 35-16, but the replacement game do not count for against the teams.
So far in the playoffs, the Chanticleers have beaten Bishop Neumann 38-14, and picked up a 24-12 quarterfinal win over Aquinas Catholic last Friday.
Oakland-Craig enters the semifinals at 9-1, with their only loss coming to unbeaten Fremont Bergan on October 16.
The Knights have also been affected by Covid, as their September 18 game with Norfolk Catholic was cancelled. Instead, The Knights hosted Logan-Magnolia of Iowa in a replacement game, winning 38-0.
In the postseason, O-C has wins over Crofton 44-14, and they were able to escape Hartington Cedar Catholic with a 15-6 victory last week.
Currently sitting at 9-0, Ord boasts an impressive balanced attack on offense, led by dual-threat quarterback Zach Smith, who has completed 62-98 passes for 1,055 yards and 16 touchdowns, compared to six interceptions. Smith has also carried the ball 117 times for 739 yards and 12 more scores.
Tommy Stevens is the leading rusher for the Chants, having carried 197 times for 1,337 yards and 25 touchdowns.
John Deriso is the favorite target whenever Ord throws the ball, hauling in 27 catches for 357 yards and four scores.
Defensively, Garret Kluthe has 64 tackles for the Chants, along with 63 from trey Warner.
As a team, Ord has record 50 tackles for loss, 15 sacks and have forced 26 turnovers: 15 interceptions and 11 fumbles. Kelen Meyer has seven of those picks.
The Chanticleers enter Friday night’s game averaging 46.6 points on offense, while allowing just over 10 points per game on defense.
For Oakland-Craig, the Knights average 42 points per game on offense, and allow 7.3 points per game on defense.
Offensively for the Knights, QB Grady Gatewood is 61-110 passing for 1,080 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Four different O-C players have double digit catches in the receiving category, with Caden Nelson leading the way with 15 catches for 205 yards and a score.
Oakland-Craig uses multiple ball carriers in their running attack. Coulter Thiele has 47 carries for 781 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tavis Uhing has 101 carries for 502 yards and 7 scores. Caden Nelson has 89 carries for 472 yards and 13 TDs, and Jaron Meyer had 49 carries for 439 yards and 9 scores.
Mike Brands leads the Knights on defense with 82 total tackles, 41 of them being solo.
Oakland-Craig has recorded 34 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks, 19 interceptions and five fumbles on defense.
Ord was the state runner-up in Class C1 in 2018, and is looking for just their second ever state finals appearance.
Oakland-Craig is trying to get back to the state finals for the second year in a row, after winning last year’s state championship in C2. The Knights were also champs in C2 in 1995, and runner-up in 1997 and 2015.
It’s Class C2 state semifinal football this Friday night, November 13, with 9-1 Oakland-Craig at 9-0 Ord.
Kickoff is set for 6:00 pm.
The game will be broadcast on 107.9 The Bull with pregame coverage beginning at 5:30.