For the first time in the school’s 117-year history, OPRF hosted a high school football game under lights on Friday night, but the outcome for the team wasn’t as glorious as the wash of brightness that consumed the field at Oak Park Stadium.
With the stands packed with a boisterous crowd estimated to be 5,500, the Huskies fell to highly-ranked Glenbard West 31-12.
It didn’t take long for the Hilltoppers (4-0, 2-0) to strike. After the Huskies (1-3, 0-2) went three-and-out on their first possession, Glenbard West quarterback Tyler Warden burst into the end zone from a yard out with still 9:30 left in the first quarter.
Glenbard West struck again with three minutes left in the quarter on a 1-yard run by Adam Bruere.
To start the second quarter, Warden (7-of-16, 105 yards) hit Nick Burrello in the middle for a 17-yard touchdown, keeping OPRF at bay 21-0.
The Huskies got on the board with 5:09 left in the first half. Caleb Conway recovered a blocked punt to set up Tony Stapleton’s 2-yard touchdown plunge. The extra-point by Nicolas Poilevey was deflected and OPRF trailed 21-6 at halftime.
A 32-yard touchdown run by Revie Sorey midway through the third gave Glenbard West a lofty lead.
The Huskies scored once more when quarterback Jack Rogalla (6-of-21, 55 yards) connected with Zach Draus on a 37-yard touchdown reception in the fourth, but any chance at a possible upset was long gone by then.
Despite the loss, the first football game under lights at the stadium was a success for the school and for the football program.
“It was just extremely exciting for our guys to be coming out of the tunnel to a cheering crowd for a Friday night football game,” said head coach Jim Nudera. “It’s just outstanding, and I can’t say enough for our community and our kids. It’s just a great thing to finally happen.”
Nudera added that his players may have gotten a bit carried away from all the excitement.
“Don’t get me wrong, Glenbard West is a very good football team, but we were not able to overcome some major mistakes on the field,” he said. “Incorrect routes were run and tackles missed. I just think their concentration may have been compromised by their emotions.
“They need to sustain the concentration level in every circumstance. The effort is there and the fight is there. They didn’t lie down; they gave it everything they had. It’s tough enough to overcome your opponent, but when you have to overcome your own mistakes on top of that, it’s a difficult challenge.”
Both the football and girls field hockey teams were out Saturday morning picking up trash around the stadium at 7:30 a.m.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to show the community we care and we appreciate what has been given to us,” said Nudera of the show of support for the high school’s neighbors.
OPRF travels to Lyons Township this Friday to take on the Lions (3-1, 1-1). Game time is 7:30 p.m. The Huskies host their second and final Friday night game of the 2009 season on Oct. 23 against Downers Grove North.