It's been three years since OPRF last went to the playoffs in football.
The Huskies needed little time Friday night to score and grab control in a victory that snapped that long drought.
Less than two minutes into the Homecoming game, OPRF (6-2) intercepted the ball and scored on its first play on offense when quarterback Lloyd Yates found Tom Odell for a 35-yard touchdown pass in the 49-22 win over Morton. The Huskies' sixth victory ensures their first trip to the playoffs since 2009. OPRF also scored on its fourth play on offense, as Jakari Cammon scampered 70 yards for the first of his five touchdowns, igniting an explosive night.
By halftime, Cammon rushed for 169 yards on five carries. Three of those carries resulted in touchdowns. OPRF commanded a 28-14 lead at the break and led 49-14 before Morton (2-6) scored with 2.6 seconds left in the crossover game with the West Suburban (Gold) opponent.
The Huskies were eager to return to the postseason.
"It's very exciting to change the program around," Cammon said. "A lot of people think Oak Park is not really a football school, so me being here, this is my senior year, I'm just trying to change things around so when I come back 10 years later, I can know I'm a part of a team that changed things around."
A trip to the playoffs bolsters OPRF's turnaround from its 3-6 finish last season.
"It's amazing," junior running back Michael Hayden said. "It's a really good accomplishment for us. It's even better to be a part of the turnaround group."
Led by Cammon's five touchdowns and 292 yards on nine carries, the Huskies rushed for 562 yards as a team. Cammon scored on runs of 70, 65, 20, 16 and 60 yards. Hayden capped OPRF's scoring with a 62-yard run with 2:32 left in the third quarter. With their running game marching up and down the field, the Huskies passed the ball just five times.
"We knew if we could get them to take some guys outside of the box, we could run the ball," coach John Hoerster said. "So, we tried to spread them out and it left some openings. The line did an amazing job. The quarterback made some really nice reads and Jakari had a really, really nice night. He ran really well. He secured the football. I was really proud of his effort."
Hayden also topped 100 yards, rushing for 126 yards on 10 carries.
"Credit goes mainly to the o-line, just good blocking," he said. "It was all a team effort."
Morton cut the Huskies' lead to 14-6 early in the second quarter after a seven-yard touchdown run, but the Mustangs missed the extra-point kick, and OPRF responded. On the Huskies' first play of the ensuing drive, Cammon steered to his left and juked a tackler at the 30-yard line, scoring on a 65-yard run.
"Coach had great play-calling," Cammon said. "When their defense was lined up against us, he made a great play call and the o-line did the rest, and I just did my job to score."
The Huskies have one regular-season game left. They'll face West Suburban (Silver) foe Proviso West on Friday. OPRF is tied for second in the conference behind undefeated Glenbard West.
"We want to go into the playoffs with a win, not with a loss, so we have momentum and we can be in second place in conference," Cammon said.