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Friday evening at Oak Park Stadium began as joyful as a family pick-nick, but it didn’t end that way on one side of the field.
OPRF head football coach Jim Nudera’s Huskies opened West Suburban (Silver) Conference play hosting York, which is led at quarterback by Nudera’s son, Jim Nudera Jr. With OPRF defensive coordinator Tim Hasso being Nudera’s brother-in-law and the uncle to the younger Jim, the game was a family affair. The Nuderas and the Hassos all met with smiles at midfield before the game, but afterwards only those on the York side remained smiling as the Dukes capitalized on three miscues to hand the Huskies a 36-14 loss.
Things looked good for the Huskies (1-2, 0-1) up until near the end of the first half.
With 19 seconds left in the opening quarter, Sawvanche Wansey put the Huskies on the board first with a 7-yard touchdown run up the middle. The play was setup by a 22-yard pass play from John Phelan to Francis Bourke.
But the younger Nudera, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior, answered in the second quarter with a 54-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Preuss. Nudera, a lefty, dropped back in the pocket, pump-faked to the right before unloading a high lofty pass to Preuss jetting down the left sideline. The Dukes (3-0, 1-0) converted a 2-point conversion to go up 8-7.
Just a few minutes later, Phelan, also a junior, gave OPRF the lead back with an 8-yard touchdown run. But that would be all the scoring the Huskies would manage the rest of the game as miscues and turnovers contributed to their downfall.
Leading 14-8, a fumble during a handoff between Phelan and running back Tony Stapleton led to a safety, which also eventually led to a York touchdown. Ryan Kent’s 35-yard touchdown run with 33.9 seconds left in the first half gave the Dukes a 17-14 lead. Kent finished with 201 yards rushing on 33 carries.
A botched snap during a punt attempt in the third quarter gave York the ball at OPRF’s 6-yard line. Minutes later, Kent scored from three yards out.
OPRF’s Dan Brennan blocked the extra point attempt, keeping the Huskies within range at 23-14. But Kent struck again after the Huskies failed to snag a first down on fourth and three from York’s 26-yard line. The senior running back found the end zone from 12 yards out this time, burrowing up the middle.
A fumble that led to an additional touchdown and an interception sealed the victory for York.
“We played terrible, especially in the second half, and it’s inexcusable,” said OPRF head coach Jim Nudera directly following the game. “We lost our focus and we lost ourselves. There isn’t much more to say. We’ll need to regroup and find our concentration and get ready for next week.”
Stapleton finished with 106 yards rushing on 20 carries. Phelan completed 8-of-16 passes for 91 yards. He was intercepted twice.
Nudera Jr. connected on 3-of-6 passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
Nudera will get to see his son play again as the Dukes host Proviso West on Friday night. However, his mind may be preoccupied with thoughts on OPRF’s game against last season’s Class 7A runner-up Glenbard West on Saturday. The Huskies take on the undefeated Hilltoppers in Glen Ellyn at 1:30 p.m. Glenbard West is coming off a 28-7 win over Hinsdale Central.