Oak Hall (Gainesville) football dominates North Florida Football Conference awards
An undefeated season culminated in a 2016 North Florida Conference Championship for the Oak Hall Eagles varsity football team. The perfect 10-0 season, the first in the school’s history, is more than just numbers in a record book; it’s a reminder of how teamwork, perseverance, work ethic and unbridled encouragement can change, and in due course, create history.
The Eagles, whose combined record from their 2013 and 2014 seasons was 2-17, battled through the adversity of the past, and with new leadership and a newfound spark of optimism and confidence, in 2015 and 2016 posted a combined record of 17-2.
In two seasons leading the Eagles, Head Coach Matthew DiBernardo has seen his team transform into the supportive, confident and accomplished football players he knew they could be when he first arrived at Oak Hall. DiBernardo knew the talent and leadership was always there, it just needed to be exposed and let loose.
Leading the way this season was North Florida Football Conference’s Player of the Year, senior Chase Trunnell, who set school records for both yards in a season and rushing touchdowns in a season. Trunnell, an offensive and defensive powerhouse, had 159 carries for 1199 yards with 19 touchdowns and 14 receptions for 177 yards with one touchdown while boasting 56 tackles, 10 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 4 fumble recoveries on the defensive side of the ball.
Trunnell had plenty of help on both sides of the ball during Oak Hall’s banner season, as four more Eagles were named to the All North Florida Football Conference Team for their performances.
On defense, senior middle linebacker, Michael Akey, had a stellar year with 76 tackles, 9 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries. Sophomore offensive/defensive lineman Thomas George, noted 27 pancake blocks, 18 tackles and 5 sacks. George also earned the honor of Highest Graded Offensive Lineman.
Junior quarterback, Matthew Armstrong, was 57 of 112 for 816 yards passing with 14 touchdowns and carried the ball 108 times for 597 yards with six touchdowns.
Senior fullback, Jackson Carey, had 56 carries for 424 yards with 7 touchdowns and 164 receiving yards with 2 touchdowns.
Senior Chance Mayo did it all for the Eagles, leading the team in receptions (15 catches 4 touchdowns), punt returns, and kickoff returns, and recorded an interception and led the conference in punting average at 40.1 yards per punt.
Senior safety, Michael Fortner, was presented the North Florida Football Conference Sportsmanship Award. Fortner served as the special team’s captain for the Eagles and was dubbed the “Quarterback of the Defense.”
DiBernardo, finishing his second year as the Eagle’s Head Coach, was named the 2016 North Florida Football Conference Coach of the Year. DiBernardo was previously named Florida Dairy Farmer’s Independent Coach of the Year in 2015, and was the Runner-Up for the Florida Dairy Farmer’s Independent Coach of the Year in 2016.
Subsequent to DiBernardo’s appointment in 2015, the Eagles defense allowed 768 points in 2013 and 2014. The Eagles allowed a mere 80 points in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
In 2017, the North Florida Football Conference will be part of 2A, allowing for teams to qualify for playoffs and ultimately compete for a State Title.