OAK PARK AND RIVER FOREST FOOTBALL WEEK 5 PREVIEW
Matchup: York (3-1, 0-1) at OPRF (4-0, 2-0)
Where: at Oak Park Stadium
When: Friday (Sep. 26), 7:30 p.m. kickoff
Last year’s score: OPRF 41, York 13
Preview: At first statistical glance, the Huskies and Dukes look evenly matched with OPRF outscoring its oppnents 167-64 en route to a 4-0 record, while York holds a 161-55 scoring edge and a 3-1 mark. However, the Dukes’ victories came against Clark, Proviso East and Willowbrook (not exactly murderer’s row) whereas the Huskies opened the season with a huge win at perennial power Lincoln-Way East and also blew out relatively solid teams in Proviso West and Downers North.
Last season, the Huskies routed the Dukes in Elmhurst so motivation will be high for both squads. In its toughest game to date, York lost by 20 [41-21] to Hinsdale Central. OPRF will be even a tougher task, especially on the road.
As for the Huskies, they can’t afford to look ahead to their epic showdown against Glenbard West on Saturday, Oct. 4 in Glen Ellyn. I feel like I write this every week but only because it’s true. While OPRF and Glenbard West appear to be the class of the West Suburban Conference Silver Division, the rest of the league is capable of pulling off an upset. On an aside, OPRF head coach John Hoerster grew up in Elmhurst and attended York so this is always a meaningful game for him.
OPRF scouting report: It’s no secret that heading into last week’s game at Downers Grove North, the Huskies’ explosive offense had been racking up points and yards mostly via the running game. And when you have quarterback Lloyd Yates, running backs like Antonio Cannon, De’Viaughn Benion and Jamarri Watson along with a stellar offense line, running the rock makes complete sense.
However, Downers Grove North stacked the box and made a concerted effort to limit the OPRF ground game. Consequently, Yates completed 10-of-14 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns. Ke’Juan Ratcliff (62 yards) and Kamal Bey (57 yards) each had three catches. The Huskies’ primary team slogan is “Grit, Zeal & Optimism.” Adaptability and versatility also come in handy when you have an offense like the blue and orange.
“We tell the offense all the time that defensive coordinators have to make a decision on what they’re going to take away,” Hoerster said after the Huskies’ 35-3 win over the Trojans. “We had a really hard time running the football. They did a great job taking away the run so we had to be able to throw the football.
Take what the defense gives you. It’s an old sports cliché but true. OPRF is very difficult to defend because they have players with speed, size and toughness. The end result is a multi-dimensional attack led by the perfect signal caller for this kind of offense, Yates,
Speaking of defense, the Huskies are rounding into form nicely. Other than a tough opener at Lincoln-Way East, which was a shootout between two prolific offenses, OPRF has allowed only 29 points over the last three games (9.6 points per game). Nathan Godwin, Dallis Flowers, Shawn Woods, Marty McAndrews, Jahmari Moore, Sam Francis, Jelani Onigbinde and Allen Stallings are all playing at a high level for OPRF. Expect at least three or four of these players to earn all-conference honors later in the year.
And don’t forget burgeoning star Kamal Bey, who scooped up a fumble and returned it 80 yards to the house against DGN to change the complexion of that game. Bey, a state wrestling champ, is a special talent.
York scouting report: Under new head coach Matt Monken, who came to Elmhurst after a successful coaching stint at Bolingbrook High School, the Dukes feature a veer option offense. The main man OPRF will need to contain is running back Lucas Alexander. Last week, the 5-8, 155-pound junior torched Willowbrook for 185 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 21 carries. Kyle Coughlin and Joe Biggins are other featured running backs and Bobby Dunn is the team’s 6-1, 185-pound starting quarterback.
Defensively, Kolton Stephens (6-2, 270) anchors the defensive line while linebacker Mike Kosanovich is another team leader. A win over OPRF would shed York in a whole new light around the West Suburban Silver, not to mention a 4-1 record.
York fun fact: Led by legendary coach Joe Newton, the York cross country boys program won 28 state championships between 1962-2013. Known as the Long Green Line, the boys cross country program was also featured in a documentary released in 2008.
Outlook: Monken is a solid coach but it’s always tough taking over a program that’s in rebuilding mode (York was 3-6, 1-5 West Suburban Silver in 2013). Even Hoerster finished 3-6 in his first year as the OPRF head coach before the Huskies took full flight.
While the Dukes have been scoring points in bunches, they have yet to face a team the caliber of OPRF. Plus, the Huskies are at home and looking for a crisp, final tune up before heading out to Glenbard West next week. Look for the Huskies to come out on fire and overwhelm the Dukes early with their playmaking ability on both sides of the ball.
My pick to click is Antonio Cannon. After being held in check against Downers North, the hard-running junior is poised for a bounce back breakout performance so I’m feeling 2 to 3 touchdowns for AC.
Prediction: OPRF 38, York 10
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