Oakley football enjoying turnaround

Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News
Running back Ethan Abell has helped Oakley to a 3-0 start.

Oakley football coach Jeff Hennick has already checked off his main goal for this season. The Plainsmen had not won a league game since 2015, but they defeated Thomas More Prep-Marian 25-13 in their season opener to snap a 20-game losing streak in the Mid-Continent League.

“Biggest goal I had was to win an MCL game,” said Hennick, 10-20 in three-plus seasons at Oakley. “It’s been a long time since we won an MCL game. That was the biggest thing I wanted to get done.”

Oakley then won the next week in its home opener, edging perennial power Plainville 10-7 in another MCL matchup.

“Just to beat a prolific program like them, I think that helped our kids’ confidence even more,” Hennick said.

Oakley improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in Class 1A district play with a 34-7 win last week at Ell-Saline. The Plainsmen next play host to Inman (2-1 overall, 2-0 district) on Friday in another district matchup.

The Plainsmen have enjoyed success in the ground game, with senior Ethan Abell running wild behind a veteran offensive line that has every starter returning from last fall.

“The biggest thing that makes (Abell) so tough is our guys up front,” Hennick said. “When those guys can do the things they’re doing, Ethan’s fun to watch, because he’s got the speed to open things up.”

Abell has rushed for 543 yards on 64 carries, averaging 8.5 yards per attempt, with six touchdowns. He rushed for 227 yards against TMP and 261 versus Ell-Saline.

“He’s a very, very quick back, very special,” Hennick said. “He’s probably one of the most special speed backs I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.”

Hennick also has 10 returning starters on defense. Junior lineman Christian Koch leads the team with 25 tackles and senior linebacker Jonathan Temaat has 21 stops.

“Thus far in the season, we’ve been very, very pleased,” Hennick said of his defense.

With that MCL losing streak now just a memory, Hennick wants to emphasize keep the good times rolling.

“When we look at it as a staff, we tell the kids you’re starting to do some good things here,” Hennick said, “but you have to continue to work and get better.”