By Brad Spencer
There's no doubt the announcer for the OPRF football games will soon be tinkering with how to pronounce Dain Mrozek's last name correctly.
The junior quarterback made his varsity starting debut by helping lead the Huskies to a 21-7 victory over Downers Grove North in both teams' West Suburban (Silver) Conference opener at Oak Park Stadium on Friday night.
Mrozek (sounds like Prozac, and, yes, you pronounce the M) got the start after John Phelan suffered a torn ligament in a toe on his right foot in the final series of OPRF's win over Proviso East the week prior.
The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Mrozek, more of a passing quarterback than an option-oriented one, did his share of impressive running. He set up the game's first touchdown with a bruising 7-yard scamper and finished the game with 79 yards on the ground. But his arm came in to play as well. On third and eight from their own 48, Mrozek dumped a pass to running back Jakari Cammon in the middle of the field and the senior sprinted his way to a 52-yard touchdown. Matt McCormack's extra point put the Huskies up 7-0 with 1:53 left in the first half.
"I had jitters to start, but then the adrenaline kicked in and I zoned in on what I had to do," said Mrozek after the victory. "I told myself a couple of times, 'It's just football,' and that seemed to relax me."
In the third, Mrozek marched his offense down to Downers North's 12-yard line. On fourth and 1, he broke through the line but fumbled. OPRF's Kahli Hartzog recovered the ball in the end zone to put the Huskies up 13-0.
After the Huskies committed three penalties, including two questionable personal fouls, Downers North quarterback Riley McGinnis burrowed in for a 5-yard touchdown with 31 seconds left in third.
An interception by Brennan Van Spankeren in the fourth set up Cammon's 1-yard touchdown run with 7:26 left in the game. Mrozek found an open lane off the right tackle and went in untouched for the 2-point conversion.
Cammon, who came out of the gate slipping tackles and running through Downers North's defensive line, racked up 177 yards on 33 carries.
"I was here last year when we didn't win a conference game, so I knew how important this was for us," said Cammon. "With Phelan getting hurt it's a speed bump, but I knew Dain would step up and we'd be alright. This win gives us the confidence we need going forward."
Before Friday night, the last time the OPRF football team secured a win against an opponent in the Silver Division was Oct. 23, 2009. The opponent was Downers Grove North. Last year the Trojans handed OPRF a 56-20 loss in the season finale to keep the Huskies winless in the conference at 0-6.
The Huskies (2-1, 1-0) travel to Elmhurst Friday (Sept. 16) to take on York (7:30 p.m.).