OAKLAND — Caidyn Cunningham had a lot on his plate this past week, more than most high school juniors deal with.
He also had a big band of supporters to lift him up through the pain and agony of losing two family members — his brother Cody and cousin Isaac Hartwick — in the blink of an eye on Sept. 14, shortly after Caidyn led Glide High to a 46-0 victory over Reedsport.
Starting at quarterback and cornerback Friday night, Caidyn Cunningham intercepted an Oakland pass to set up Glide’s first TD, and threw for a TD as the Wildcats beat back Oakland 22-7 in a nonleague football game at Eddy Field.
“For sure it was a struggle,” Caidyn Cunningham said. “I knew my brother was always with me, keeping me safe and guiding me.
“I have so much emotional support (from the team), they love me and I could feel it.”
“Coming off the thing that happened earlier in the week, we were all pretty emotional. It’s really what drove us through the game,” Glide senior Zach Holland said after scoring three times. “It was a tough week of practice, but we kept pushing ourselves through it and came out with the win.
“We’re playing for Cody and Isaac, and the entire Cunningham family.”
It was far from a clean game — yellow hankies erased multiple big plays on both sides and turnovers cropped up time and again — but it was a test of more than football skill.
“It has been real tough,” GHS coach Jody Doty said. “This is a family that has been a part of Glide for a long time, and part of this program for a long time. That young man was a trooper to come out to practice this week and make it to this game. It was a heck of a roller coaster ride for him. It was good for him to be out here and be a part of this team. They support him real well. We’re proud of him.”
Caidyn Cunningham’s pick, when Oakland’s receiver broke off his route early, gave the Wildcats great field position and led the way to Holland’s first TD, a 10-yard run. Cunningham hooked up with Holland on a 20-yard TD throw with 4:52 left in the half for a 12-0 lead.
Zack Welker and Cayden Kangiser disrupted Oakland’s offense — helping force a fumble and then tackling the Oakers’ Conrad Jones in the end zone for a safety on fourth down.
That gave Glide a chance to add another score, but time ran out after Cunningham hit a long pass to Dillon Towne for a first down at the 19.
Glide stopped Oakland inside the 20 three times in the game — the one time Oakland punched in a score was in the third quarter after the Wildcats failed to get a punt off and settled for an incomplete pass on fourth down at the 10-yard line.
“They did a good job, they have a good defense, a good experienced defense,” OHS coach Ben Lane said. “Our offense is coming together, but that’s been happening to us the first four weeks of the year. We smell the end zone and we’re putting it in, but we’re not finishing.”
Dawson Tolliver hauled in a 13-yard pass from Jones for Oakland’s score with 2:10 left in the third, a quarter the Oakers dominated in time of possession.
Jacob Brooksby led Oakland with 89 yards on 10 carries, while Jones had 92 yards on 4-for-7 passing. Glide intercepted Jones three times.
Holland had two interceptions, the second a dynamic pick with 30 seconds to go.
“It was toward the end of the game, so once I turned around and saw all the people coming I wanted to get as many yards as I could,” Holland said.
“This game meant a lot to me, especially after last year when the results weren’t good,” Caidyn Cunningham said, referencing Oakland’s 52-32 win at GHS in 2017. “I wanted to play lights out for my brother; he didn’t want me to go home and feel sorry for myself.”
Glide (3-1) will open Southern Cascade League action next Friday with a home game against Illinois Valley. Oakland (0-4) will host Regis in its Central Valley Conference opener next Friday.
Glide 6 8 0 8 — 22
Oakland 0 0 7 0 — 7
G — Holland 10 run (pass failed), 3:25
G — Holland 20 pass from Cunningham (pass failed), 4:52
G — Safety, punter Jones tackled in end zone, :27
O — Tolliver 13 pass from Jones (Jones kick), 2:10
G — Holland 22 run (Wilding pass from Cunningham), 10:50.