The OPRF football team geared up for this weekend's Homecoming bonanza against highly-ranked Downers Grown North by upending Proviso West 27-14 in Hillside on Saturday. And the Huskies did it with a new starting quarterback.
Erik Mikelsons, who played the bulk of OPRF's victory over Morton the week prior, took the label of starter when Justin Brown's lingering groin muscle pull needed another week to fully heal. Head coach Jim Nudera remained undecided on who would start against Downers North. Mikelsons' numbers against Proviso West probably won't be a deciding factor for the coach, considering the 6-foot-1 junior converted just 4 of 18 passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns, though the victory may stand for itself.
The Panthers jumped on the board first when Thurston Tolliver hit Darien Watson for a 32-yard touchdown pass with 9:24 to go in the opening quarter. The 2-point conversion attempt failed.
Mikelsons and the Huskies responded with a 6-yard TD run just four minutes later. Sam Frank's extra-point gave OPRF a 7-6 lead, one they would never relinquish.
Frank upped the lead three more points on a 37-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Four minutes later Mickelsons hit Jon Meacham for a 9-yard TD pass.
Frank then sealed the first half with a 35-yard field goal with 58 seconds on the clock. The Huskies led 20-14.
"We had to make some adjustments offensively with a new starting quarterback, so it took the team some getting used to," said Nudera. "The defense played great."
Mikelsons closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 39-yard TD pass to Cedric Rowland.
De'Angelo Wisdom helped the Huskies move the ball, rushing for 85 yards on 29 carries.
OPRF was forced to watch a 35-yard Mikelsons to Jason Simmons TD pass be called back in the second quarter when an official apparently blew an inadvertent whistle during the play. Although play had not been halted, nor were players distracted, the touchdown was called back and the Huskies had to settle for a field goal.
"It was a little disheartening when the official comes over and tells you he messed up and it ends up costing you a touchdown," said Nudera, himself an official for wrestling. "But mistakes can be made. I'm just thankful it wasn't a closer game."
The callback had significance for the Huskies. It was their fourth of the season.
"It's been a recurring thing for us," said Nudera. "We score a touchdown and it's called off on a technicality."
The Huskies have a heavy Homecoming opponent to deal with in Downers Grove North this Saturday (1:30 p.m.). The Trojans are 5-1 overall and boast Illinois recruit Garrett Edwards at quarterback. Edwards scored three rushing touchdowns and threw for one in a 33-6 pounding of Glenbard West on Friday.