OXFORD >> Led by one of the top running backs in the Naugatuck Valley League in Joey Salemme, Seymour has had plenty of success punishing teams with its effective ground game.
Not Oxford though. The Wolverines refused to let that happen.
Oxford shut down the Wildcats’ rushing attack on its way to a 27-6 victory Friday in an NVL-SWC Challenge contest at Wolverine Field.
Oxford (4-2) stacked the box and held Seymour (3-3) to a season-low 91 yards on 32 carries. Salemme finished with just 31 yards on 14 rushes.
“They did an excellent job,” Seymour coach Tom Lennon said. “Those coaches did an excellent job preparing them. Nobody has been able to stop our run game the way they have. They kind of forced us to play left-handed there and did a great job, so hats off to them.”
Seymour’s only score came in the second quarter on a 82-yard kickoff return from senior Christian Thurmond.
The Wildcats simply couldn’t get anything going offensively. Oxford was just too strong and physical. Seymour tried to adjust some fronts and blocks heading into the second half, but to no avail.
“We’re just resilient,” said defensive back and quarterback Kyle Chudoba. “We just went out there and played physical. We knew it was going to be a physical game. They have a really good running back and good offensive line. We just wanted to go out there and shut them down. That was our goal. We clogged the middle and our linebackers did a good job.”
Seymour drove down into the red zone just once, late in the fourth quarter.
Oxford’s defense is perhaps a bit overlooked. A senior-laden group led by middle linebacker Marcus Esteves and outside linebacker/strong safety Steve Persson, the unit forced six turnovers in a season-opening win over Weston and another four in a loss to Masuk.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines’ offense did its part as well Friday.
Chudoba connected with Chris Vankamerik on a 64-yard touchdown to put Oxford ahead 13-0 in the second quarter.
Thurmond returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for Seymour’s only score.
In the third, Chudoba tossed a 48-yard touchdown to Esteves and followed it up with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Vankamerik in the fourth to put the finishing touches on the win.
Chudoba finished with 198 yards on 5-of-12 passing and also rushed for a touchdown. Persson added 20 carries for 104 yards and Vankamerik had two catches for 100 yards and two scores.
There were many storylines heading into Friday night’s game. Oxford students used to attend Seymour High prior to its high school being built five years ago. Oxford coach Joe Stochmal is a Seymour graduate and offensive coordinator Bob Kelo served as an assistant at Seymour.
“I’m sure it means a lot to the kids and the community…,” Stochmal said. “Our kids are going to fall into that rival mode and we will play to that somewhat. But every week is a challenge and every week we have to ready to play.”
Oxford 27, Seymour 6
Seymour 0 6 0 0 — 6
Oxford 7 6 7 7 — 27
O—Kyle Chudoba 1 run (Ryan Flach kidk)
O—Chris Vankamerick 64 pass from Kyle Chudoba (kick failed)
S—Christian Thumond 82 kickoff ret (kick failed)Third quarter
O—Marcus Esteves 48 pass from Kyle Chudoba (Flach kick)
O—Chris Vankamerick 37 pass from Kyle Chudoba (Flach kick)
Team records: Oxford 4-2; Seymour 3-3