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Driver issued 2 citations for hitting teacher in crosswalk

Jennifer Croy says she was left with injuries to her leg, arm and ribs after she was hit by a car that failed to stop at a crosswalk in front of Stone Ridge Elementary School. (Photo by Ben Felder)

A teacher working as a crossing guard was struck by a car that had failed to stop while children were crossing in front of Stone Ridge Elementary School, injuring the teacher who was taken to an area hospital.

The incident took place Aug. 31 around 8:30 a.m. Christopher Matthews, 20, was issued two citations for failure to devote full time attention and failure to yield right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalk. The citations combine for a total of $354 in fees.

Jennifer Croy, a first-grade teacher at Stone Ridge, works as the school’s crossing guard before and after school. She said traffic had been stopped to let a mother and daughter cross when a car traveling eastbound on West Memorial Road approached the crosswalk at a high speed. Croy yelled for the driver to stop and said he swerved at the last second and hit her in the leg.

“His (front left) bumper hit my knee and I fell to the ground,” Croy said. “He kept going and I couldn’t tell until he passed that (the little girl) was okay.”

Croy was in the middle of the street and the car went between her and the little girl, who had just begun to cross. Croy said she ran after the car and that Matthews finally came to a stop. He told her he could not see because of the sun and then left the scene.

“When I saw (the little girl) was okay I took off running and he stopped way down the road,” Croy said. “He rolled down his window and said ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I couldn’t see, the sun was in my eyes,’” Croy said. “I told him this was a school zone and he wasn’t even doing the speed limit.”

Croy said she spotted a bowl of cereal in the cup holder of the car and was able to get a partial number of Matthews’ license plate, which were also Tennessee tags.

“I checked on the little girl and she was crying,” Croy said. “The mom was consoling her and said she didn’t get hit, she was just scared. It was past time to start school and I came to the office.”

Croy said she did not immediately realize she had been hurt until she came into the school.

“I guess I came out of that shock and realized I had just been hit by a car,” she said.

Police and an ambulance were called where a report was taken and Croy was given medical attention. Croy said she declined a ride by ambulance to the hospital but had a friend take her. X-rays did not show any broken bones but Croy said she was told there could be ligament damage in her leg and that her shoulder and ribs were very sore.

Oklahoma City Police were able to locate the home of Matthews using the vehicle description and plate numbers Croy had given. According to OKCPD Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow, Matthews told officers he did not know he had hit Croy and that is why he failed to initially stop. Wardlow said no arrest was made.

Pick up a copy of next week’s Gazette for more information on this story.

Piedmont rally falls short in season-opening loss to Deer Creek

A Piedmont rally fell short as the Wildcats lost its season opener to Deer Creek, 38-31. (Photo by Greg Evans)

Last season, Piedmont was plagued by disappointing second halves. Against Deer Creek on Friday, the Wildcats mounted a furious comeback that fell short against their rivals 38-31.

Piedmont started the contest on the ground with Cassius Calhoun and Collin Bricker combining to pick up the team’s first first down. While the Wildcats were forced to punt on that first drive, it showed that Piedmont could move the ball on Deer Creek.

On the opposite side of the ball, the Antler’s toss sweep allowed Deer Creek running backs to gain huge chunks of yardage and the Antlers scored their opening touchdown. That lead would only last for about 30 seconds as Bricker and Christian Foster connected on a long catch and run for Piedmont’s first score.

“We played our butts off tonight,” Foster said after the game. Foster finished with five receptions for 223 yards and two touchdowns. “We’d been working on that type of play a lot. That work is paying off, but we have to go hard in practice and keep getting better and keep playing together.”

Another Bricker to Foster connection brought the Wildcats into the redzone near the end of the first quarter. A quick toss over the middle to James Green gave Piedmont its first and only lead of the game at 14-7.

Piedmont closed out the first quarter with momentum on their side, but Deer Creek stole that momentum right back with a long run early in the second quarter to tie the game. The special teams play of the game came in the second quarter, when Piedmont pinned Deer Creek at the one on a great punt and ball awareness by the coverage team.

Deer Creek ended the first half with a long bomb that put them up 21-14 and a last second field goal for a 24-14 halftime lead.
The quarterback run game lead to Deer Creek’s first score of the second half. Sacks by Cameron Cowan and Darrius Burris threatened to start a Piedmont rally, but Deer Creek blocked the Wildcats’ next punt and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Antlers their biggest lead of the night at 38-14.

Piedmont responded with another long distance connection between Bricker and Foster and converted the two point conversion to bring the score within 16.

Piedmont’s rally continued after Hunter Winkle recovered a Deer Creek fumble near midfield and Bricker and Dylan Broyles hooked up for a 46 yard touchdown on the following drive to bring the Wildcats within 10.

A full defensive effort ended a Deer Creek drive early and a couple complete passes to Foster and Green helped Piedmont get close enough to hit a field goal and bring the game down to single digits.

However, Deer Creek recovered a Piedmont onside attempt and slowly melted away the final ticks on the clock.
“We played hard,” Bricker said. “We came out in the second half and we didn’t quit.”

Despite the loss, Piedmont took some big steps as a team since its last scrimmage and that didn’t go unnoticed by Coach Craig Church.

“Honestly, our improvement is like night and day,” Church said. “We had some key mistakes, busted assignments and we had a punt blocked. Those are all frustrations, but we fought back. We had a different amount of kids that stepped up and made plays. Defensive linemen pressured the quarterback and wide receivers made plays. We’re going to get in film and correct those easy mistakes. There were no physical mismatches (against Deer Creek). I’m excited about this fall. I’ve felt like we have come a long way in a couple weeks.”

Piedmont will play at Harrah next week.

Wildcat offensive line looks to answer questions

Piedmont’s offensive line comes into this season as one of the team’s biggest question marks, but coaches say they are confident this group of guys will be able to help the Wildcats succeed.

One of the Wildcats’ biggest question marks going into the 2011 season is how the offensive line will adapt to a new offensive scheme.

At times last season, the line wasn’t able to give much time to the quarterback as he tried to get the ball down the field. With more of an emphasis being put on the passing game, the line will be called upon even more this season.

“What we’re doing (this year) is different enough, that there has been a learning curve for those guys,” Coach Craig Church said. “They’re picking it up fairly quickly, though. I definitely think (the offensive line) has progressed as fast as any. Coach (Justin) Jackson does a great job with them.”

Church said that the Kingfisher scrimmages went a long way towards the line figuring things out.  There are a lot of concepts that a coach can tell a player about that they won’t really get until someone in another jersey is coming at them.

“At the Kingfisher camp, we didn’t look good inside,” Church said. “But a light came on, I definitely saw them start to play much better as that day went on.”

Lane Denwalt played center for the Wildcats last season, but is making the move to left tackle. Jacob Harris looks to start at guard, and is described as a steady and hard worker by his coaches. Hunter Winkle has been playing at both guard and tackle. Hunter Amos has been pegged as this year’s center and while undersized, has been praised for being steady and having good feet. The right tackle position is still being figured out, but a number of players have been working out there.

“Depth has been our biggest issue,” Church said. “Depth has a bigger impact on the line than anywhere else. We’re deeper at the skill positions, but a lot of schools this size are like that. There just are not a lot of big kids. It’s similar to my experience in 6A (at Stillwater), but you could argue that for 4A, we’re small.”

Church explained that the line has shifted to a zone blocking scheme, where the linemen block whoever comes into their ‘zone’ and don’t pick who they will block before the snap. Church said the scheme was introduced in the ‘60s to help smaller schools and the short passing game. Players try to get the ball out faster, so the linemen don’t have to engage with the defenders for extended periods of time.

“I think that this scheme is playing into what we want to do well,” Church said. “It will allow them to be athletes and use their ability and the defender’s momentum against them. Then, it’s all up to the back to make the correct read.”

The general idea of the hurry-up offense the Wildcats will use this season is designed to keep the flow of the game in Piedmont’s favor. The scheme will spread out defenses, which should limit the number of interior pass rushers, and get the ball into space quickly. The hurry-up doesn’t mean the team just runs to the line and snaps the ball either, it allows a team to get set and then rest when needed. By getting to the line quickly, it forces the opposing team to keep their players in or risk penalty. That’s a good spot for any driving offense to be.

“Honestly, there is no magic bullet to (building stamina),” Church said. “The last things we want to do is let kids think that being thin at a position is an out. Conditioning has been a major part of our summer pride and the kids are buying into it. We have a lot of kids playing both ways, but a lot of schools have to do the same thing, so it’s not an out.”

The thing about the offensive line is that no one ever notices their hard work until something goes wrong. A quarterback getting sacked always draws more attention than the many times the line gives him enough time to make a completion. Like the rest of the squad, there are going to be some growing pains this season. However, the line is picking up the system quickly and hope to turn the question mark into an exclamation point.

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