Greg Carter has helped 12 football teams win state championships in Michigan, including eight as an assistant and four as a head coach.
Now in his sixth year at Oak Park, Carter knows exactly what it takes to earn big wins and take programs to the next level.
He’s doing that with the Knights (4-2), who upset Clarkston, 14-7, on Friday and earned their first win over the Wolves in program history.
“It was definitely one of our better moments,” said Carter, who has faced Clarkston three times since joining Oak Park. “It was a big win for us as a program. It was against a 4-1 team and against a team that puts together a run for a possible state championship every year.
“It was definitely a big win for us.”
Oak Park snapped a 7-7 tie midway through the fourth quarter when quarterback Corey Graham tossed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Da’John Davis, who snared the ball in between two Clarkston defenders and then scooted into the end zone for the winning score.
The Knights defense stepped up during the ensuing drive, as Desmond Barber intercepted a pass that gave Oak Park possession and the ability to run out the clock in the final few minutes.
“They were in desperation mode and opened it up a bit,” Carter said. “They started throwing it around, so we had to play good pass defense.
“We were in man-defense underneath and zone over the top. Their receiver tried to catch the ball but got hit, and Des was right there where he needed to be. Thank goodness because we got the ball back.”
Oak Park receiver Keveon Clark reeled in a 40-yard reception that gave his team a 7-0 advantage just before halftime.
Clarkston running back Michael Fluegel punched in a 10-yard TD early in the fourth quarter to knot the score.
“They were better than us, and we couldn’t move the ball,” Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson said. “They physically handled us.
“The score isn’t indicative of that, but they handled us pretty good up front. They threw us around like rag dolls. They dominated the game pretty much, and they were much more physical than us.”
The loss dropped the Wolves, who haven’t missed the playoffs since 2002, to 4-2 overall. They must win two of their final three games to ensure a 14th consecutive berth in the playoffs.
“We got to get better in a hurry,” Richardson said. “We got West Bloomfield, Lake Orion and (Rochester) Adams all in a row now.
“Those are all really good teams. We can’t be pouting or worrying about that. We got to put on our big boy pants and play.”