Donovan Edwards, West Bloomfield dominate Oak Park in season opener, 39-0
Oak Park — It would be hard to find a more talented trio of running backs on the same field in the state on Friday night in the Oakland Activities Association Red division game between No. 2 West Bloomfield and No. 9 Oak Park.
West Bloomfield showcases the top 1-2 punch in the state at running back in four-star Donovan Edwards and four-star junior Dillon Tatum while Oak Park was set to put the ball in the hands of Michigan State-bound back Davion Primm, who was supposed to run behind a line anchored by four-star two-way lineman Rayshaun Benny.
But, the premier showdown never materialized with Oak Park missing nearly a dozen players for various reasons, including several starters led by Benny, who was sidelined with a leg injury.
West Bloomfield took advantage of the situation, dominating Oak Park 39-0 in a game played without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The season was pushed back three weeks with the MHSAA originally postponing the season to spring on Aug. 14, then reversing its position on Sept. 3, allowing teams to start practicing the day after Labor Day to prepare for their openers.
Edwards was ready for the season opener, as was West Bloomfield’s defense. Edwards scored on runs of 1, 11 and 4 yards, all coming out of the wildcat formation. He finished with 40 yards on nine carries.
West Bloomfield limited Oak Park to less than 60 yards of total offense, just 14 in the first half while building a 32-0 lead. Primm was limited to six yards on nine carries as West Bloomfield linebacker Jordan Hoskins would not allow him to break free outside.
So, how strange was it to play without fans?
“It wasn’t weird at all, we just had to bring our own energy, we’re our own fans out here,” Edwards said. “
In addition to losing Benny for the game, Oak Park had multiple penalties, dropped third-down passes, had mix-ups in the backfield and had trouble on special teams with one snap going over the punter’s head for a safety.
Edwards’ final TD run just three minutes into the second half put the mercy rule into play at 39-0 with the running clock the rest of the game.
West Bloomfield had nine drives with its worst field position coming from its own 47.
Alex Short was impressive in his debut at quarterback for West Bloomfield. He completed 4 of 5 passes for 45 yards, including a 20-yard scoring strike to Immanuel Mitchell that opened a 32-0 lead with 40.3 seconds left in the half.
Short rushed for 62 yards on 12 carries in the first half.
“It (great field position) was great, it made everything easier, our defense did a great job today and you couldn’t as for anything better,” Short said. “It’s unbelievable. It got taken away from us and we couldn’t believe it and we’re just grateful to be out here and we’re not going to waste it.”
West Bloomfield scored 17 seconds into the game when it started its opening drive at midfield, then Tatum broke loose for a 32-yard gain to set up Short’s 18-yard TD run.
West Bloomfield increased the lead to 13-0 midway through the opening quarter, first forcing a three-and-out, then having another short field to work with when an Oak Park defender grabbed Edwards’ face mask on the punt return, putting the ball at the Oak Park 37.
Edwards picked up 17 yards on the drive and Short’s run on fourth and 3 set up Edwards’ 1-yard TD run.
Tatum went to work again to help West Bloomfield open up a 20-0 lead early in the second, picking up 13 and then 14 yards during his team’s longest drive of 53 yards, which was capped by Edwards’ 11-yard TD run, a play after Short was shaken up and sent to the sideline.
Short returned to throw his TD pass after West Bloomfield added more points, first on the safety and then on Jake Ward’s 40-yard field goal.
West Bloomfield entered as OAA Red division champs while Oak Park was making its entrance in the Red after winning the OAA White division last year.
The teams met in each of the previous two seasons with West Bloomfield pulling out close wins each time, 20-14 in last year’s season opener and 27-21 in 2018.
There would be no close one this time around.