OPRF senior Davion Talbert, left, offers encouragement to teammate Jared Scott during the Huskies' 56-39 loss to Glenbard West at Duchon Field in Glen Ellyn Saturday, Oct. 8. (Courtesy Artis Carroll Photography)

“The status quo sucks” is a quote from George Carlin that the Oak Park and River Forest High School football team has adopted as a slogan this season.

Loosely translated for the Huskies’ purposes, it means that while OPRF has qualified for the state playoffs a school-record five seasons in a row and been a consistent winner under head coach John Hoerster, more is expected.

Within the highly competitive West Suburban Conference Silver Division, the quote rings partially true for the Huskies.

OPRF is in contention to win the coveted conference title while eight-time defending conference champion Glenbard West isn’t. Whether its Hinsdale Central, Lyons Township or the Huskies (or a combination of these teams), a new champion will be recognized this season. The mighty Hilltoppers have already been dethroned. Change is in the air.

On the flip side, the dynamic between Glenbard West and OPRF unfortunately remains the same. The Hilltoppers defeated the Huskies 56-39 at Duchon Field in Glen Ellyn Saturday.

Under Hoerster, the Huskies are 0-5 against the reigning Class 7A state champs and have lost in seemingly every way fathomable. Whether it’s been high-scoring shootouts, last-minute losses or blowouts, Glenbard West has been the itch the Huskies just can’t seem to scratch.

“We were too inconsistent today,” Hoerster said. “We all have to watch film and figure some things out. We saw glimpses of some really good things on all sides of the ball, but we just couldn’t string together a consistent run of those positive things.

“And I don’t care what people say about Glenbard West, that’s still a very good team. If you don’t play with consistency, they are going to take advantage of that. They are very well-coached and have kids with talent and discipline.”

While the coaches and players collectively accept responsibility for the loss, the defense had a particularly rough day in the office. Although the game was played at picturesque Duchon Field along the shores of Lake Ellyn, the Huskies’ defense was unsightly Saturday.

As if allowing 56 points isn’t mind-boggling enough, OPRF also gave up 626 yards overall and 434 rushing yards. Glenbard West junior running back Ryan Diver gashed the Huskies for 310 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries. Fellow junior Dre Thomas chipped in 93 rushing yards, while quarterback Cole Brady finished 8-for-12 for 192 yards and four touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Ben Reifel and senior tight end Alex Pihlstrom caught two TDs apiece.

The Hilltoppers, who entered the game on a rare two-game losing skid, scored at will. Prior to this week, the Huskies had allowed only 66 points in six games which made Saturday’s showing so unexpected.

“It was a humbling experience,” said OPRF cornerback Brenden Flowers who had an interception against Glenbard West. “We were 6-0 and things were a little high but this (loss) will bring us back down to earth.

“Usually we can rely on our defense, but our offense kept us in the game. We did some positive things today. We’ll learn from this game and be ready for Lyons (Township) next week.”

Glenbard West led 14-0 after one quarter, courtesy of a 2-yard touchdown run by Dionte Moorehead and a 24-yard TD catch by Reifel.

Touchdowns gone wild

The second quarter offered a entertaining scoring barrage (at least for fans), in which the Huskies outscored the Hilltoppers 27-21 to draw within 35-27 at halftime.

OPRF senior quarterback Jeremy Hunt opened the scoring on a 2-yard run with 10:59 left in the second quarter. On the ensuing play, Diver ran right through the middle of the OPRF defense for an 80-yard run, extending Glenbard West’s lead to 21-7. The Huskies scored on a 25-yard TD pass from Hunt to Blair, but the Hilltoppers responded again with a 12-yard TD reception by Pihlstrom.

After Hunt threw an interception, Diver’s 6-yard run capped off a 7-play, 50-yard scoring drive to give Glenbard West a 35-14 advantage with 3:02 left until halftime. In the final three minutes of the second quarter, OPRF scored on Keyon Blankenbaker’s 90-yard kickoff return and Rolliann Sturkey’s 3-yard run to make the score 35-27 at the half.

“It looked pretty bleak at different moments but we got some a spark from different phases of the game,” Hoerster said. “Keyon (Blankenbaker) had a great touchdown return on a kickoff that really brought some life back into us. Jared Scott made some incredible plays. Two-way players like Kohri Blair and Ryan Molina really came to play.”

The second half provided a similar narrative with both teams trading touchdowns in the third quarter. Hunt tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Molina for the Huskies’ score.

In the fourth quarter, Brady found Pihlstrom in the end zone again on a 22-yard pass play to give the Hilltoppers a 49-33 lead at the 11:42 mark.

OPRF methodically moved the ball down the field 76 yards on 12 plays only to be denied a touchdown on a fourth-and-1 at the Glenbard West 1, OPRF running back Terrance Roundy (13 carries, 40 yards) was stuffed at the line of scrimmage by the Hilltoppers in the key defensive play of the game.

“We have some good things to pull from this game and I liked the fight in our guys,” Hoerster said. “We’re playing some really good teams the rest of the way so we have to fix our mistakes.”

Although the Huskies couldn’t quite keep up with Glenbard West offensively, Hunt passed for 285 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Scott hauled down 10 catches for 119 yards and Blair has six catches for 90 yards and two TDs.

The offensive line also protected Hunt reasonably well in the pocket. Running the ball effectively was more difficult, however, as the Huskies finished with 93 yards on 31 carries.

“We did a really good job throwing the ball and made some strides,” Scott said. “There were some holes in their coverages which we were able to exploit. We could have run the ball a little better although I don’t think we did bad. There’s definitely room to grow all around.

“Even though there was a lot of bad and good in this game, we can learn from it. We needed an atmosphere like this to play in for our upcoming games. The games coming up will be even bigger and we’ll be ready.”

Sturkey led OPRF in tackles with 9.5, followed by senior linebacker Tariq Thurman (9) and senior safety Wesley Cheatham (8). Molina turned in a solid all-around effort with six tackles and three catches for 38 yards.

OPRF hosts Lyons Township on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

The Lions are loaded with talend on both sides of the ball, led by quarterback Ben Bryant, running back Reggie Terrell, wide receiver Brandon Fischer and defensive tackle Mickey Brown.

In the conference standings, Hinsdale Central (7-0, 5-0) is in first place, followed by OPRF and LTHS (both 6-1, 3-1) and then Glenbard West (5-2, 3-2).

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