OIL CITY — Thanks to COVID-19, all postseason football games in District 10 are being played at the site of the designated home team, and Oil City fans had waited a long time for a chance to see their Oilers clinch district gold on their own turf.
On Halloween night, that chance became a reality as Oil City literally ran past from Harbor Creek behind a 201-yard and four-touchdown performance from Sean Stack en route to a 51-14 Class 4A Championship title, the third consecutive for the Oilers and fourth in program history.
Stack was called upon to step up at the running back position as the Oilers’ primary rusher Cam Russell nursed a wrist injury throughout the game. Despite not playing at 100 percent, Russell still racked up 135 yards on 19 carries. And with Stack’s effort, Oil City finished with 359 total rushing yards and 453 yards of total offense.
Holden Stahl was also effective for the Oilers through the air, completing 4 of 6 passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns of 52 and 12 yards. J.T. Stahlman was responsible for three completions, compiling 82 yards and a touchdown.
Harbor Creek’s offense was paced by Casey Smith who was 20 for 32 for 150 passing yards and two touchdowns. His twin brother, Cody Smith, was on the receiving end of seven of those passes for 59 yards, while Austin Vaughn also caught seven for 53 yards and a score.
The contest was knotted at 8-8 after the first quarter, and it appeared that a classic was brewing at Oil Field, but the home side went on a tear in the second frame, scoring 28 unanswered points to open an unassailable lead.
After forcing a quick three-and-out from the Huskies on their opening possession, Oil City needed only two plays to break the ice. A play fake got the Harbor Creek defense to bite, allowing Stahl to connect with Stahlman for a 52-yard score.
The visitors responded with a 10-play, 63-yard drive to even the scoreline less than five minutes after falling behind.
Then, the Oilers orchestrated a 13-play, 80-yard drive that carried over into the second quarter and ended with a 12-yard slant pass from Stahl to Dakota Cole to restore the lead for Oil City.
Little did anyone know, that drive would kick-start a four-score quarter, headlined by Stack, who broke for three of his touchdown runs in a span of 6 minutes and 22 seconds.
The most impressive of those runs came immediately after a Huskies’ punt. Taking the ball at their own 22, Stahl took the snap, turned to his left and pitched the ball to Stack, who made a one-handed snatch out the air, slipped around the left corner and streaked down the Harbor Creek sideline for 78 yards.
The Huskies did add another score in the third quarter on a 17-yard pass from Casey Smith to Vaughn, but Stack recorded his fourth touchdown shorty after and Zac Kiefer added a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter for Oil City to ice the cake.
The Oilers had previously won a district title in Class 3A in 1998 before winning consecutive 5A crowns in 2018 and 2019.
They now boast an 8-0 record and will enter the PIAA state postseason, where Oil City will travel to Altoona to face the District 6 champions, Juniata, on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 1 p.m. at Mansion Park.