After a long season of struggling to put it all together, OPRF’s varsity football team will not be going to the playoffs for the first time in John Hoerster’s tenure at the school. The Huskies (4-5) were taken down by Glenbard West (9-0) in a 42-0 loss on Oct. 25.
OPRF’s head coach knew heading into this game that it was going to be an uphill battle.
“They just had our number tonight and did everything they were supposed to do,” said Hoerster. “We needed to put ourselves in a position where we weren’t 4-4 heading into this game. You have a lot of woulda coulda shouldas from the season, but you have to just work your way through it.”
The Huskies didn’t have the firepower on offense that was needed to take down their undefeated foes. OPRF’s quarterback, Jaden McGill, couldn’t find any rhythm through the air due to constant pressure from Glenbard West’s line. He had a few misfires throughout the game and only completed five of his 14 passes on the night for 22 yards.
The junior quarterback didn’t make any excuses after the loss.
“Our mindset going into the game was, ‘Yeah, we are 4-4 and they’re 8-0, but we have to drop the records and execute our coaches’ game plan,'” said McGill. “Glenbard is a really good team. You have to give them a lot of credit for what they did tonight.”
First Quarter: The Huskies struggled on offense out of the gate and, to make matters worse, senior running back Nazareth Bryant hurt his ankle on the second play of OPRF’s first offensive possession. He would return to the game later in the first quarter but, according to Hoerster, wasn’t at 100 percent the rest of the way.
After Bryant went down, the Huskies turned the ball over when McGill threw a play-action pass into double coverage intended for wide receiver Eric Locke. It was picked off by the Hilltoppers’ Caleb Moorhead who took it to the Huskies’ 30-yard line.
Glenbard West drove the ball to the goal-line when the OPRF defense poked the ball out of the hands of running back Nic Seifert. The ball rolled into the endzone and Ryan McFadden pounced on it for the touchback.
Things would go south for the Huskies from that point on.
After an unsuccessful drive ended with a Huskies punt, the Hilltoppers used their run game to plow through the OPRF defense (averaging 7.8 yards per carry on the night). Threatening to score on fourth-and-goal on the Huskies’ 2-yard line, Glenbard West running back Jaylen Moore found the endzone to give his team an early 7-0 lead.
Second Quarter: While the Huskies limited the damage of the Hilltopper offense early on, Glenbard West exploded for three touchdowns in the second quarter. The first came on an eight-play drive that ended with Moore notching his second of three rushing touchdowns on the day from two yards out.
Glenbard West running back Joey Richmond made the most out of his three carries and scored two touchdowns on Glenbard West’s last two possessions of the first half to give them a 28-0 lead over the Huskies.
OPRF had one last chance to score before the half when the offense pushed the ball to the Hilltoppers’ 28-yard line. With under 20 seconds left, McGill tried throwing a touch pass down the sideline to Locke, but it was underthrown and ended up in the hands of the Glenbard defense at the 2-yard line.
Third Quarter: To keep their postseason hopes alive, the Huskies went for an onside kick to start the second half, recovered it at the 43-yard line and used nine plays to get to Glenbard West’s 13-yard line. After a run for no gain and an incomplete pass, McGill tried to find Locke on third down but the pass went wide and out of bounds. The drive ended when McGill was stopped short of the first down marker when he scrambled to his left, didn’t have an open receiver, and was greeted by multiple Hilltopper defenders to stunt the scoring threat.
On the ensuing possession, Moore took advantage of the turnover on downs when he scampered for a 43-yard touchdown with 5:09 after Glenbard West made its way to OPRF’s side of the field. Glenbard added to its lead with 27 seconds left in the quarter when Seifort ran for a 27-yard touchdown to finish off the scoring for the night.
Moving forward: the Huskies will have a year to move past their disappointing season.
“We haven’t thought about next year, but I’m going to try and get the team together and make sure we are ready for next season,” said McGill. “I’m not focused on that right now, but we will get to that down the road. Our record is what it is, but this is a hard-working group of kids who have a lot of heart. It’s sad we had to go out like this.”