Glenbard N. 12
The OPRF football team seems to have taken a cue from the Chicago Bears.
The Huskies, who were highly touted in the preseason for their big and experienced offensive line much like the Bears, were unable to gain ground against Glenbard North on Friday night. The difference between the Huskies and the Bears is that OPRF fell 12-6 in its season opener, while the Bears thus far have only lost meaningless exhibition games.
The Huskies also struggled to contain Panthers running backs Evan Natick and Phil Jackson (13 carries, 73 yards). Natick finished with 64 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including a four-yard run that capped off Glenbard North’s seven-play, 69-yard opening drive.
OPRF’s defense tightened up a bit thereafter. Linebacker Matt McCormack, replacing the injured Luke McCarthy (separated shoulder), racked up a team-leading nine tackles. Things began to look promising on the offensive side of the ball as well when Michael Raleigh recovered a Panthers fumble at OPRF’s 47-yard line. But on fourth down and two from the 14-yard line, running back Tony Stapleton was stopped short and the Huskies turned over possession. Stapleton, who rushed for over 1,200 yards last season, finished with 52 yards on 23 attempts.
A bad snap led to an OPRF fumble in the third, which in turn led to Glenbard North scoring an insurance touchdown. Starting tackle Isaac Chadri, filling in for Raleigh (leg cramp) at center, snapped the ball over quarterback John Phelan’s head. The ball was recovered by Glenbard North’s D’Angelo Hodges. Natick scored his second touchdown on a 6-yard run with a little less than two minutes left in the third.
Phelan’s debut as the starting quarterback for the Huskies was a rough one. The junior was sacked three times and intercepted once. He connected on 12 of 19 passes for 108 yards and one touchdown – a 7-yard pass to Zach Draus with 1:51 left in the game.
“We struggled getting the ball rolling there’s no question,” said OPRF head football coach Jim Nudera. “We didn’t block the run as well as we could have. They [Glenbard North] were plugging the gaps at the line.”
Nudera explained that the lack of offense may have had to do with his linemen getting complacent during practices.
“Due to our lack of depth this season, during practice scrimmages our offense can move at will, which I have explained is a false sense of security and isn’t realistic to what they’ll see at game time. It’s a complacency issue, one that we will address again this week.
“But we also have a few guys starting at key positions on varsity for the first time, so hopefully the first-game jitters will be behind them now. Overall, the effort was there and I was glad to see that.”
When the Huskies take on Hinsdale South in a West Suburban Conference crossover game this Friday (7:30 p.m.), they’ll also have the added bonus of getting comfortable on Hinsdale Central’s home field. Due to installation of synthetic turf at Hinsdale South, the game has been moved to Hinsdale Central, which OPRF will return to on Oct. 2 to take on the Red Devils.