By Brad Spencer
OPRF football head coach John Hoerster will close out his first year skippering the Huskies with the season finale in Hillside at Proviso West on Friday night (7 p.m.). Stymied by season-ending injuries to starting wide receiver Tommy O’Dell (leg) and quarterback John Phelan (toe), Hoerster’s inaugural season hasn’t gone too smoothly — the team is currently 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference.
But the Oak Parker was upbeat about the future when I caught up with him last week following OPRF’s 19-6 victory over Morton, especially when the topic was junior running back Jakari Cammon, who has surpassed 1,300 rushing yards on the season.
How important is it for the Huskies to finish out the season strong?
It is very important for us to finish strong. We need to continue to improve and grow as a team and as a program so that the momentum will carry over into the off-season, and into next year. A win would be great, but it's the attitude and the details that I am more focused on.
From your prospective, how well has [running back Jakari] Cammon progressed this season and what do you foresee in his abilities for next year?
Jakari has improved this season first and foremost as a leader. He was elected as one of our captains this summer as only a junior, and has risen to this occasion by displaying his leadership abilities on and off the field. He is also in tremendous physical shape. He has gotten more carries than I would typically like, making him a target for defenses, but his off-season and in-season training, along with his mental toughness, have given him the ability to take the pounding of a 20-plus carry game.
Who impressed you the most in Friday's game against Morton besides Cammon, and why?
Friday's win was not pretty, but we go the job done. Morton came out to play, and they are coached very well. We had to overcome some adversity, but ultimately our guys did what they needed to do to come out with a win.
Jake Lintvelt impressed me with his maturation process. He has only been a varsity starter for two weeks, and he is still learning the offense. What can't be taught, however, is his competitiveness and his fiery attitude.
The other players who impressed me were Nile Sykes and Ian Sutherland. Nile is also only a sophomore, and he is improving by leaps and bounds as the season has moved on. He has the potential to be a dominant player, and showed signs of what is to come by his great second half performance against Morton.
Ian Sutherland is a junior, and one of the leaders on the defense. He overcomes his lack of physical size by the size of his heart. On top of this, he is extremely focused, prepared and technically sound in his fundamentals; he is always in the right position to make a play.