When the District 3-A tournament begins next week, it will do so with a game at Oneida’s Jane Terry Hoffman Field.
The Indians, who had won five of six games heading into Tuesday’s regular season finale against the Knoxville Ambassadors, secured the right to host a first round tournament game with several key district wins in succession, the last of which was a dominating performance against an out-manned Oliver Springs team on Friday.
With a 10-1 win over the Bobcats, coupled with top-seeded Cumberland Gap’s 8-0 win over Rockwood, Oneida locked down the No. 2 seed as the club wrapped up regular season district play.
So by the time the Indians were squaring off against Scott High in Huntsville on Monday, it was just about bragging rights and renewing a spirited rivalry against players and coaches they know well.
The story of Oneida’s late-season surge, according to first-year head coach Derek Keeton, has been the team’s resiliency. Illness, senior activities and injuries have played a major role this season. By the time the Indians faced Scott High on Monday — a game they won 5-3 — they were down five players due to injury alone.
“Tomorrow will be tough because we are beat up and the Knox Ambassadors are good, but to win five of our last six games with the adversity we have had, I could not be more proud of these boys,” Keeton said after Monday’s game.
A key story for the Indians has been the play of Danner Keeton. He’s the coach’s son, but he’s also one of the youngest players on the field, and that hasn’t stopped him from becoming the key component of Oneida’s offensive attack.
Keeton had four goals in Friday’s win over Oliver Springs. Perhaps more impressively, he scored four goals in Monday’s win over Scott High.
When Keeton wasn’t scoring against the Bobcats, Dante West and Blake Queener were. The seniors teamed up for four goals and four assists — two each — to help lead the Indians. Also scoring for Oneida were Toby Hacker with a goal and two assists and Zach Burchfield with a goal. Zack Hacker, Zac Kazee and Jagger Patton had assists for the Indians.
In Monday’s win over the Highlanders, the Indians broke a 2-2 tie with a 3-1 second half, with Keeton scoring four goals and Toby Hacker scoring a goal.
Scott High was led by Eli Storey’s two goals, while Will Blakley had another goal.
Oneida’s final week of the regular season began with 2-1 win over Rockwood to put the Indians in position to secure the No. 2 seed. Keeton scored the only goal of the first half, off an assist by West, to put the Indians in front 1-0 at the intermission. After Rockwood answered to tie the game in the second half, Toby Hacker scored the game-winning goal off an assist from Keeton with 12 minutes to play.
The Indians fell to Grace Christian in non-district action on Saturday, 2-1.