'It's a new season': Oak Park opens playoffs with first win, downs Grosse Pointe South
Grosse Pointe Farms — If this was the start of a new season, it couldn’t have started better for Oak Park.
Winless in six games during the pandemic-shortened regular season, Oak Park (1-6) opened the state playoffs with a 35-27 victory Friday over Grosse Pointe South (4-3).
“All I’m going to say it’s a new season,” said running Davion Primm, who rushed for 137 yards and scored on two 4-yard runs in the first half. “We’re coming for the ring.”
And make no mistake about it, this Oak Park team, as presently constituted, feels it can make a serious run.
Oak Park will play University of Detroit Jesuit in the second round of district playoffs.
“We do,” coach Greg Carter said. “We know we’re a good team. We only have one starter returning from last year, and three starters on defense, and a couple of those guys were injured (most of the season). We knew if we could get everybody together, and with the growth of this team, we could do some damage.
“We’re better than our record indicates. We’re in a great league (Oakland Activities Association) and we have not been whole this year. (But) we’re getting close to being 100 percent).”
The turning point occurred after South had taken a 19-6 lead on linebacker Jonathan Drake’s recovery of Primm’s fumble and ran it 30 yards for a touchdown.
Instead of rolling over, Oak Park came right back down with Primm’s second touchdown and cut the deficit to 19-14. Then punter Ky’Shaun Jackson fielded an errant snap and sprinted 78 yards for a touchdown with 12 seconds left in the first half.
The two-point conversion made it 22-19, and Oak Park was on its way.
“We just shook it off,” said Primm, of his fumble and his team’s rebound. “I shook it off and kept going. We started talking about it on Monday, about how it all starts here. We came to win.”
A 31-yard touchdown pass from quarterback James Burnley to Jackson (on fourth-and-4), and an 89-yard scoring pass from Burnley to Amari Harris, both in the third quarter, ended any suspense.
“These kids are resilient,” Carter said. “We would forget the losses this season and get better. We’re a different team.”
South coach Tim Brandon knew this could be a dangerous game after watching Oak Park on film.
“They’re not really an 0-6 team,” Brandon said. “We have the utmost respect for coach Carter and his program. They just made big plays and we made big mistakes.
“They had athletes finding space and making great plays.”