The Oak Park and River Forest and Fenwick High School football teams should contend for their respective conference championships this season. The Huskies are in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division, while the Friars compete in the Chicago Catholic League Green Division.
Here are previews for both highly respected leagues and my prediction of how OPRF and Fenwick will fare this season.
West Suburban Silver
Outlook: Glenbard West has dominated the conference in recent years; however, the Hilltoppers tied for second with Lyons Township and OPRF last season behind champion Hinsdale Central. All four teams should compete again in the top heavy conference for the title, with LTHS pegged as the preseason favorite.
The Lions are loaded with Cincinnati-bound quarterback Ben Bryant (top-rated quarterback in Illinois, Rivals.com) directing a potent offense and defensive tackle Mickey Brown anchoring a strong defensive line. Powered by running backs Ryan Diver and Dre Thomas along with wide receiver Alec Pierce, Glenbard West should be prolific offensively. Hinsdale Central hopes to defend its conference title, while OPRF has plenty of talent albeit young and relatively inexperienced.
Top 5 Players: Matt Bjorson, SR., TE, Hinsdale Central; Mickey Brown, DT, Lyons, SR; Ben Bryant, SR., QB, LTHS; Alec Pierce, SR., WR, Glenbard West; Phil Saleh, SR., OL, OPRF
Did You Know: OPRF is the 12th-winningest football program in IHSA history. The Huskies have an overall record of 653-386-26 entering this season.
Predicted Order of Finish: LTHS, Glenbard West, OPRF, Hinsdale Central, Downers Grove North, York, Proviso West
Chicago Catholic League Green
Outlook: Fenwick, which finished 11-2 and advanced to the Class 7A state semifinals last year, is the favorite to repeat as conference champions. While the Friars lost a considerable amount of talent (particularly on offense), they will play with a chip on their shoulders after the way last season ended in a controversial 18-17 loss against Plainfield North.
The Friars will be strong defensively and West Virginia-bound wide receiver/tight end Michael O’Laughlin is one of the best players in the state. Montini and De La Salle look like the main challengers, although each has cause for concern.
The Broncos are transitioning to new head coach, Mike Bukovsky, after the retirement of Chris Andriano who coached at Montini for 38 years. Andriano’s teams won six state titles and 12 conference championships.
De La Salle is forced to play its home games at St. Rita this season, while its campus undergoes a major renovation, including the eventual installation of a new athletic field.
Marmion could be a sleeper.
Top 5 Players: Austin Glazier, SR., OL, Fenwick; Brandon McPherson, SR., QB, Marmion; Matt Morrissey, SR., QB/TE, Montini; Brad Norgle, SR., QB, Montini; Michael O’Laughlin, SR., WR/TE, Fenwick
Did You Know: O’Laughlin was a forward on the Friars’ best boys basketball team ever last season. Fenwick finished 30-5 and lost to Morgan Park in the Class 3A title game last season.
Predicted Order of Finish: Fenwick, Montini, De La Salle, Marmion, St. Francis