Oasis victorious in opener, Love gets first win as head coach
When the game clock hit triple zeroes Friday night, first-year Oasis High School football head coach Jeff Love and his team found themselves in the win column to open the 2020 season.
A team with all new parts, pieces, coaches and tactics handled Marco Island Academy (0-1) on their home turf at Caloosa Football Field on their way to a 35-14 victory on senior night behind an impressive performance from senior quarterback Toby Kellner.
“You know, it’s not about me,” said Love when asked how it felt to get his first win at the helm of the Oasis football program (1-0). “It’s about these kids, this administration (and) the community. It’s a cool feeling. It’s great for all of these guys — Marco Island included — just to be out here and playing. That’s what high school football is all about. It’s a good feeling.”
Kellner got the Sharks’ offense moving out of the gate, as he capped off their first drive with a 16-yard rush to put his team up 7-0.
Marco Island came right back to take the lead when Peter Morales reached the end zone on a 2-yard run. A successful 2-point conversion put the Manta Rays up 8-7. It would be their last lead of the evening.
Sophomore running back Joziah Coleman was the next Shark to find pay dirt when he took a 5-yard in for a score, giving Oasis a 14-8 lead just as the first quarter wound down. Coleman amassed 68 yards rushing on the night.
Senior Kai Shelton, who accumulated six receptions for 125 yards and a score, reeled in a 15-yard pass from Kellner to give the Sharks a 21-8 lead before the half.
In the third, Kellner found senior Hunter Eichelberger for a 6-yard touchdown, as the 6’2″ tight end held onto the ball and absorbed a solid hit at the goal line.
Kellner dazzled all night, being efficient through the air, evasive on the ground and smart in his decision-making. He finished the night 14-for-20 with 239 yards passing, 67 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
“He’s a gutsy senior,” Love said of his quarterback. “The way he has come in and commanded the respect of the team has been outstanding. Guys look up to him. When you see the plays he makes on the field, it’s pretty cool and something you can lean on as a coach. He’s just a great kid, and great kids do great things when they focus on the execution.”
In the fourth quarter, the Sharks took their final bite of the opponent when Shelton intercepted Marco Island’s Kyler Howard and brought it back 17 yards to the house for the pick-six.
Howard, who played fairly well for a clearly fatigued team due to roster size, added an 18-yard rushing touchdown to cap the scoring for the game.
“For the kids to be able to come out here and play — 80 percent of the country doesn’t get to do this right now,” Love said. “We talked today at the pre-game meal about being thankful and just being able to do this. It’s awesome just to be out here. It was a fun night — a good night to be here.”
Cramps were abundant most night for both teams, as the Florida heat did not give in during the night hours.
“We’ve been running for weeks,” Love said. “(Games are) just different. We’re a very young team. There’s just some football stamina that’s not there that I don’t think would have been there regardless of if we had a pandemic or not. We do need to do a better job of hydrating. It’s South Florida, and this is what you sign up for when you play football here.”
Love said over the course of the week he and his team will work to get better and continue to work on their game-plan execution.
Oasis takes on Southwest Florida Christian on the road next week.
–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 F
Marco Island Academy 8 0 0 6 14
Oasis High School 14 7 7 7 35
O- Toby Kellner 16-yard run (Mason Ricker kick good) 7:55
MIA- Peter Morales 2-yard run (2-pt good) 4:50
O- Joziah Coleman 5-yard run (Ricker kick good) 1:25
O- Kai Shelton 15-yard reception from Kellner (Ricker kick good) 3:34
O- Hunter Eichelberger 6-yard pass from Kellner (Ricker kick good) 7:49
O-Shelton 17-yard interception return (Ricker kick good) 6:50
MIA- Kyler Howard 18-yard run (2-pt failed) 4:49