Huskies ousted by Maine South in 8A playoffs

OPRF (9-2) enjoys stellar season while establishing a bright future

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By Marty Farmer

Sports Editor

The Oak Park and River Forest football team's dream run ended Saturday afternoon in front of a vocal home crowd at Oak Park Stadium. Maine South quieted the Huskie faithful to a considerable extent by scoring four of the first five touchdowns of the game en route to its 34-21 victory over the Huskies in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs.

The Huskies finished the season with a 9-2 record, highlighted by a 5-1 runner-up finish in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division and a 35-13 playoff victory against Dundee-Crown in opening round action. Maine South moves on to the 8A quarterfinals where the Hawks will face rival Loyola, which defeated Notre Dame 24-0 on Saturday.

After the Huskies committed a costly encroachment penalty on a Maine South field goal attempt, running back Clay Burdelik put the Hawks up 7-0 on his 3-yard touchdown run off right tackle midway through the first quarter. Maine South quarterback Brian Collis tossed a 6-yard scoring strike to Justin Fahey extending the Hawks' lead to 14-0 with 8:36 left in the second quarter. The Hawks took full advantage of good field position early to build their lead.

"I put a lot of the blame on myself," OPRF head coach John Hoerster said. "We took the ball to start the game and we had our backs into the wind and couldn't flip the field. We just to needed to find a win to get that turned. We got in a hole in the first quarter and just couldn't win that early field position battle. They had a short field and took advantage of it."

OPRF quarterback Lloyd Yates drew the Huskies within 14-7 on a 70-yard touchdown run (followed by Sebastian Medala's PAT) at 8:19 of the second quarter.

Maine South seemed to put the game away on touchdown passes from Collis to Tony Buenrostro (nine yards) and George Sajenko (eight yards) to build a commanding 27-7 lead at the midpoint of the third quarter.

However, the quick-strike Huskies responded four plays later after Sajenko's touchdown snag, when Yates connected with Purdue-bound Simmie Cobbs on a 52-yard touchdown toss to make the score 27-14 with 4:46 remaining in the third quarter.

After Maine South responded yet again on a Burdelik one-yard touchdown plunge with 9:42 left in the game, extending the Hawks' advantage to 34-14, OPRF attempted a frenzied rally over the final nine minutes.

"There's no quit with our guys," Hoerster said. "They always believe. We talk about being optimistic in life and always believing that there's hope. They could have hung their heads at certain points during this game but they didn't. We made some plays and got some momentum back but we ran out of time."

Yates threw his second touchdown pass on the afternoon via a lofted 37-yard pass to senior wide receiver Ryan Chancellor to pull OPRF within 34-21. On the ensuing possession, Collis was picked off by OPRF linebacker Sam Cottingham-Beard. Unfortunately, multiple (and questionable) unsportsmanlike conduct/personal foul penalties called against the Huskies down the stretch hampered their ability to pull closer on the scoreboard.

While several calls may have been questionable, the Huskies are also due some culpability, considering they finished with 15 penalities for 137 yards. By stark comparison, Maine South had just three penalties for 30 yards.

Yates completed 18 of 28 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns (two passing/one rushing) along with two interceptions. The junior signal-caller also rushed 11 times for 124 yards. Senior wide receivers Xavier Rowe (nine catches, 72 yards) and Cobbs (five catches, 102 yards) also played major roles offensively.

On defense, Justin Starks had a team-high 11 tackles while senior defensive linemen Andre Lee and Emonte Logan added nine tackles apiece. Promising sophomore Allen Stallings recorded eight tackles, while Cobbs and Cottingham-Beard each had an interception.

"Our players made some great strides this year and accomplished some really amazing things," Hoerster said. "They have so much to be proud of and the lessons they learned [this season] they will be able to apply in their lives.

"We played a darn good team in Maine South, and we played them hard till they end. We couldn't catch a break and we couldn't make the plays when we needed to get the win."

With several key returners including Yates, Stallings, Adam Lemke-Bell, Marty McAndrews, Antonio Cannon, Jahmari Moore and Dawon Browley Lacey plus reinforcements from an undefeated sophomore team, the Huskies should field a highly competitive team next season.

"I think our junior class could be even better than us. I think [next year] they can get even farther in the playoffs," said OPRF senior center Steve Skrine. "This season, we never gave up- that defined our season. Unfortunately, we didn't get past the second round but 9-2 is a heckuva season and I had an awesome time with these guys."

Senior linebacker Manny Renteria also offered well-deserved praise for his teammates, Hoerster and even the aforemenioned OPRF fans: "Coach Hoerster is doing a very good job. Our senior class was unbelievable. We all believed in each other, and the fans were great, too. We all turned the program around together."

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Reader Comments

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Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: November 12th, 2013 8:01 PM

I wasn't referring to your comments. I was referring to comments about Orrie not playing AA players. But I'm willing to reconsider that your comments are ignorant and stupid too, if you wish.

OPRF FB Letterman 1964 from River Forest  

Posted: November 12th, 2013 5:42 PM

@Jerry I do not remember you being a member of our team. What gives you license to say my comments on Coach Noth were "ignorant and stupid". Myself and fellow team members had nothing but respect and admiration for Coach Noth. As a member of the "greatest generation", Coach Noth would never put up with undisciplined athletes. It was "his way or the highway" Go enjoy a margarita in Phoenix, cowboy.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: November 12th, 2013 4:25 PM

Congratulations to the Huskies, players and staff for a great season. We're all looking forward to an even better season next year. Looks like there's a new sheriff in town. The comments about Orrie Noth are both ignorant and stupid. There was only one AA student at OP in those days, Faith Julian. Orrie took over a wounded program that had recorded the only 0-fer season in history and restored some Huskie pride. I admired Orrie Noth, as did anyone who knew him.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: November 12th, 2013 4:09 PM

Good points, Todd. Saw MS play Wheaton Warrenville, and they were pretty ineffective. Went -02 to start season. But both Montini and WWS are elite programs, and the Hawks clearly benefitted from playing them early on. Have won 10 straight since then.

todd kahn from oak park  

Posted: November 12th, 2013 1:20 PM

I meant Morton, not Proviso - in years past it was Proviso East. Still, concept is the same.

todd kahn from oak park  

Posted: November 12th, 2013 1:18 PM

If OP is going to be a perennially good program, it would help to beef up the non-conference schedule. No reason to play 0-9 Fenger, 2-7 Leyden, and 1-8 Proviso East. In hindsight, that's why, despite a stellar 8-1 record, OP was a 4 seed playing a potential state champ in round 2 - who by contrast played Montini and Wheaton Warrenville South. A good start would be getting Fenwick back on the schedule, right?

Marty Farmer, sports editor Wednesday Journal from Oak Park  

Posted: November 12th, 2013 10:53 AM

No worries on my end. I'm fine. Aside from the OPRF side of things, that was the first time I've seen Maine South. Solid team. Obviously, they have great tradition. The Maine South/Loyola tilt could potentially be a classic. I didn't make an 8A pick, but I like Glenbard West to repeat in 7A.

OPRF FB Letterman 1964 from River Forest  

Posted: November 12th, 2013 9:19 AM

Marty please don't get your panties in a bundle. The comments for the most part are constructive criticism. The Huskie team needs to embrace discipline if it ever expects to advance to a championship level. The game on Saturday was an embarrassment with the penalites. Coach Noth would have benched any player who made a late hit!

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: November 11th, 2013 8:22 PM

@ todd K. Absolutely right. As I said, DAVE INSERRA can be an overbearing jerk. Should have been penalized for it. CHARLIE BLISS, however, is Maine South's offensive coordinator. He's not a bully, and he wasn't running on the field, being too busy with really good play calling. As for OPRF fans "staying classy," well, sorry, but I was sitting right in their midst- I was one of them- but as the game wore on, many of them were loud and anything but @#%&*!! f*******, a**h***! #@*&#@!! classy.

todd kahn from oak park  

Posted: November 11th, 2013 7:30 PM

From where I sat, Bliss looked like a bully who tries to intimidate the officials and gets away with it because he coaches Maine South. And, as long as criticizing out of town teams is ok...the student section of Maine South was a bunch of entitled classless jerks. Almost all of their chants were derisive towards OP's fans and players. Oak Park's student section does the community proud. Stay classy Oak Park!

todd kahn from oak park  

Posted: November 11th, 2013 7:26 PM

@Bill - Since Marty said nothing about saying things about anyone out of town :-), it was somewhat ridiculous that MS's coach at one point walked halfway on the field and talked to one of his players, and at another ran down to the 20 yard line to berate an official. Neither one drew a flag which is absurd. Also should have been flagged for head to head tackle as Ginny noted. But that's not why OP lost and the penalties on OP were justified - just wasn't called both ways.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: November 11th, 2013 7:19 PM

Sat with buddies from Park Ridge at the game. Several things stood out?Play after play, with too few exceptions, MS off. coord. Charlie Bliss's play calling was devastatingly effective, while OPRF's too often relied on extra effort from star players. 2: MS head coach Inserra can be a pushy jerk, and should have been flagged for the on field stuff. But he's also a great coach who disciplines his players and would NEVER have tolerated that costly out of bounds cheap shot by a star OPRF player.

Ginny Beacom from River Forest  

Posted: November 11th, 2013 3:18 PM

Congratulations Huskies on a great year! it would have been fun to see OPRF play Maine South on an even playing field. I've read the comments on the Huskie penalties, but what about the lack of M.S. calls? A helmet to helmet collision on a defenseless receiver that was heard at the top of the stands, decking our kicker on an extra point, & never penalizing their coach for being on the field, where he spent most of the game. Are these the best officials the IHSA has to offer? Shame on them.

Marty Farmer, sports editor Wednesday Journal from Oak Park  

Posted: November 11th, 2013 12:18 PM

Hello readers: Thanks for your interest in both the Wednesday Journal and OPRF football. As a friendly reminder about comments, please keep any opinions about OPRF football or any in-town team/coaches/players relegated to the action/play on the field.We've had instances where some comments perhaps even mild initially escalated into some inappropriate and unfounded comments. Criticism/praise are fine but we will remove unwarranted comments. This is after all hs sports not the pros. Thanks, Marty

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: November 11th, 2013 12:17 PM

1st, to Letterman, no one cares. Coach Noth likely wouldn't have allowed AA players. 2nd, as I saw written elsewhere, MS played like a team that's in the playoffs year after year, OP played like one that's learning how to get there year after year. The Huskies fought hard, but made mistakes you can't make against a good team. The future looks great. Lastly, I hate to moan about referees, but the game was poorly officiated. Borderline calls went agains OPRF, + intimidation from MS coaches. Bad.

todd kahn from oak park  

Posted: November 11th, 2013 10:33 AM

They played exciting football and provided great entertainment for my 6 year old son and I who attended every game. This is a great looking program and they will make Oak Park proud for years to come...but too much trash talking, late hits, that drew flags. Again you can't give a championship caliber team 137 free yards. Looking forward to next season. This is a fun TEAM, but Lloyd Yates alone is worth the price of admission and people will be paying big $$ to see him play one day soon.

todd kahn from oak park  

Posted: November 11th, 2013 10:27 AM

Not fair to blast OPRF Letterman - he and Bill Dwyer are absolutely right. This was a great and fun team to watch, but unsportsmanlike penalties were very common with this team. They were fortunate a 15 yard taunting penalty didn't cost them the Downers Grove North game. They had FIVE 15-yard penalties on Saturday, including a sideline violation. You can't beat programs like Maine South with that kind of discipline, or lack thereof. Don't want to take anything away from this team...(cont'd)

Al Bundy  

Posted: November 10th, 2013 11:11 PM

Hey "OPRF FB Letterman 1964", I scored 4 touchdowns in a single game. Polk High. So put the letterman jacket away. Trust me, no one cares.

In Response to OPRF FB Letterman 1964 from River Forest from Oak Park  

Posted: November 10th, 2013 12:38 PM

They had refs back in 1964?


Posted: November 10th, 2013 12:21 PM

OPRF FB Letterman 1964 from River Forest  

Posted: November 10th, 2013 7:09 AM

The Huskies had 15 penalites for a loss of 137 yards! Three of the penalites were for unsportsmanlike conduct!! You cannot advance with an undisciplined team. Coach Noth would have sent the players of the unsportsmanlike infractions to the locker room. Hoerster has lost control of the team.


Posted: November 9th, 2013 9:22 PM

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: November 9th, 2013 8:18 PM

Gutsy effort by the Huskies. But this report misses some details. First Maine South touchdown came after an encroachment flag on a Hawks field goal. The Huskies didn't get going until the second quarter, while the Hawks looked prepared and disciplined. Well over a dozen OPRF penalties, including three unsportsmanlike penalties helped kill Huskie drives. The Huskies were robbed of a take away by a bad call on a clear fumble, but when you don't get the ball to Simmie Cobbs near enough, well?.

Paddy h  

Posted: November 9th, 2013 6:24 PM

Hoerster is a fantastic coach! My hat goes off to the team this year. A great group of men. OPRF hasn't had a program in years and I think it's safe to say that they are BACK! I'm very excited to see them next year. Congrats on a great season men.

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