Hinsdale Central's Garrett Oakey thrives after move back to backfield

3 minute read

Jakub Rudnik
Pioneer Press

Late in the third quarter against Oak Park-River Forest, the Hinsdale Central football team held a seven-point lead. The Red Devils got the ball back on their own 27 after a Huskies punt.

On the first play of the drive, senior running back Garrett Oakey took the handoff, got a block on the cornerback from junior running back Luke Skokna and saw nothing but open field. He was gone for a 73-yard touchdown on Friday.

That explosiveness and big-play ability is exactly why Oakey is again in the backfield for the Red Devils.

As a sophomore, the Hinsdale resident served as the backup running back behind then-senior Christian Bobak, scoring five times on the ground. But junior year he was moved to wide receiver to help with the passing game.

With the graduation of quarterback Josh Bean in the spring, Oakey was moved back to his original position, where he's excelled.

His 163 rushing yards in the 21-13 West Suburban Silver win over OPRF gave him 256 for the year - 40 shy of his rushing total as a junior. However, he led the team with 439 receiving yards in 2016.

Oakey carried the ball 19 times against the Huskies and averaged 8.6 yards per carry.

"He's a dynamic player, and he had to play outside last year by necessity, which he never complained about it," Red Devils coach Dan Hartman said. "It's good to see a kid like that come back this year, his senior year, and play so well."

In 2016, the ground game was primarily Skokna running behind a massive, experienced line, to the tune of 1,078 yards. Now, Oakey and Skokna are splitting carries and Hinsdale Central (2-1, 1-0) is running more multiple-back looks to keep defenses on their toes.

"Instead of just me, me, me, it's Oakey, one of the best athletes on our team, switching it up," Skokna said after rushing for 100 yards on 23 carries against OPRF. "I think it's a lot harder on the defense when they don't know who's getting the ball between me and Oakey, and (senior tight end Matt) Bjorson."

Both backs said they benefit from having a teammate share the workload. It keeps them fresh deeper into games - and hopefully the season.

"It's good for both of us, because we both get the ball," Oakey said. "Nobody is mad at each other for getting more touches. I like it a lot. I think it's really versatile to get us both the ball."

Jakub Rudnik is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

Twitter @Pioneer_Press

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