Shaking off a 1-2 start this season, The Oak Park and River Forest High School football team has rebounded well with two straight impressive wins.
The Huskies, who blew out Morton in a conference crossover game in Week 4 action, maintained their momentum with a 41-12 win over visiting Proviso West on Sept. 21.
OPRF scored three touchdowns in the first quarter and two more in the second quarter to build a 34-6 lead. With a victory essentially in hand, The Huskies outscored the Panthers 7-6 in a pedestrian second half.
Daemyen Middlebrooks started the scoring barrage for OPRF when he recovered a Proviso West fumble deep in Panthers’ territory and returned it 17 yards into the end zone. Alec Fraggos caused the fumble when he stripped the ball from a Proviso West ball carrier. Henry Darrow’s extra point put the Huskies up 7-0 with 7:01 left in the first quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Jaden McGill added a pair of touchdown runs (33, 81) and Darrow converted two more PATs as the Huskies pushed out to a 21-0 advantage at the end of the opening quarter.
McGill threw a 28-yard TD pass to senior wide receiver Trevon Brown and Darrow made the extra point as OPRF led 28-0 about midway through the second quarter.
Like McGill, reserve quarterback Toby Kunkel picked apart the Panthers’ defense with a pair of touchdown passes. Kunkel threw scoring strikes to Brown (56 yards) and Craig Shelton (11 yards) to cap off a tremendous showing offensively by OPRF.
McGill turned in another highly efficient performance. He completed 2 of 3 passes for 52 yards and rushed 5 times for 107 yards, plus the aforementioned three touchdowns. Kunkel also played very well, connecting on all three of his passing attempted for 78 yards and a pair of TDs.
Brown caught three passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Nazareth Bryant chipped in 43 yards on the ground off 10 carries.
OPRF finished with 288 yards of total offense and averaged 12.4 yards per play.
OPRF coach John Hoerster praised the team’s defense and special teams after a tough 7-0 loss at Hinsdale Central, but he also noted the offense needed improvement. Scoring over 80 points in the last two games is a subtantial sign of progress. The Huskies also dropped 42 points in a win over Downers Grove South on Aug. 31.
With playmakers like McGill, Brown, Shelton and Nazareth Bryant, it figured to be only a matter of time before OPRF started scoring in bunches.
Defensively, the Huskies shut down Proviso West. OPRF forced five fumbles and recovered three. The Panthers rushed for 81 yards on 39 carries (2.1 yards per carry).
Cedric Cheatham led OPRF in tackles with seven and had a sack. Aidan Shea, Brian Ziech and Jaylan Pascascio had four tackles apiece, while Danny Francis contributed three tackles.
Defensive players Ashford Hollis, Izaiah Ruffin, Zephaniah Jackson, Jared Schainis and Machi Young also played well for the Huskies.
OPRF visits Downers Grove North on Friday, Sept. 28 in another important conference matchup. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Hinsdale Central is on top of the West Suburban Conference Silver Division with a 3-0 conference record, followed by Glenbard West at 2-0. Pegged as the preseason favorites, both teams are 4-1 overall.
OPRF and Lyons Township land in the middle of the pack with 1-1 records. York and Downers Grove North sit at 1-2, while Proviso West is 0-3.