With Big, Physical Offensive and Defensive Lines and Ethen Knox at Running Back, Oil City Has High Hopes in 2022

| August 25, 2022

OIL CITY, Pa. (EYT) — The Oil City football team has a lot of its stars back.

(Above, Ethen Knox finds some running room against Sharon last season/photo by Richard Sayer of Eight & 322.)

And the Oilers will be playing in a new classification.

After a 3-5 campaign in 2021, Oil City moved down to Class 3A from 4A. The Oilers have 13 starters back, including leading rusher Ethen Knox and highly touted tight end/offensive lineman Cam Crocker.

That should bode well for a team that was young last season, but learned on the job and is now a lot more experienced and very hungry to take a giant leap forward.

The goal is to win the Region 4 championship and chase a District 10 crown.

Oil City Area High School sports coverage on Explore and D9Sports.com is brought to you by Redbank Chevrolet and DuBrook.


“Last year, the whole team was super young and I don’t think we did as well as we were all hoping for,” Knox said. “I think this year because the whole team was trying to build last year, will just be better.”

Knox put together an outstanding sophomore campaign as a running back, despite entering camp last season not really sure where he’d line up.

Originally a wide receiver, Knox reported to the team thinking he’d probably still be catching the ball instead of getting handoffs.

But the coaching staff saw something that prompted them to switch him to the backfield. In his first game against General McLane last year, he broke off a couple of long runs and gained 185 yards on the ground on 27 carries. The next week he piled up 290 on 31 rushes against Conneaut.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Knox was on his way.

Later in the season, he set the school record for rushing yards in a single game with 492 against Franklin.

By the end of the year, Knox rolled up 1,825 yards rushing on 253 carries and 14 touchdowns in just eight games.

Knox, though, will likely have less of a workload this season. That’s by plan. Knox said head coach Dan York, entering his 23rd season with the Oilers, wants to preserve the back.

Oil City is also determined to improve its passing game, which produced just 10 completions and 200 yards all season.

Crocker may be the wild card.

At 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, he’s a devastating blocker, but he’s also nimble enough to play some tight end. With a big target like Crocker, senior quarterback Dane Ley may be able to thrive this season.

He’ll be behind a huge line — and huge is something of an understatement.

When Crocker, a senior, is at tackle he’s one of the smallest of the big bodies up front.

Henry Milford is a 6-1, 306-pound junior who will return to guard. Junior James O’Dell is another 300-pounder at tackle.

They’ll also be opening up running lanes for Knox, who tried to get quicker and faster this offseason.

“I try to do a little bit of everything,” Knox said. “I mean, I’ve been told by some people that I’m not as shifty as other backs, but I think I can make some moves. I do just like to get up field.”

The main team that is in Oil City’s way this season for a possible region title is old nemesis Meadville.

As always, the Bulldogs are blessed with speed and experience coming off a season in which they advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals.

Oil City, though, is hopeful its brawn can out-duel Meadville’s swiftness.

With a drop down to Class 3A, a bevy of talent back on the offensive and defensive lines, and, of course, Knox, Oil City could be in for a resurgence this season.

Oil City Area High School sports coverage on Explore and D9Sports.com is brought to you by Redbank Chevrolet and DuBrook.

Copyright © 2022 EYT Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of the contents of this service without the express written consent of EYT Media Group, Inc. is expressly prohibited.

Category: Local News, Oil City, Sports, Uncategorized