For the first time since October 2019, the Oak Park and River Forest High School football team played a game fully open to the public.
But despite providing the capacity crowd with thrilling moments, the Huskies dropped their season opener to Wheaton-Warrenville South 42-28 on Aug. 27 at Oak Park Stadium.
“It was awesome,” said OPRF coach John Hoerster of returning to a normal game-night atmosphere. “It put things in perspective. As much as we would’ve liked the outcome to be different, we got to be out here, and that’s something we’ve got to be grateful for.”
The game got off to a very fast start as WWS scored just two plays into the game, with quarterback Matt Sommerdyke connecting with Danny Healy on a 62-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead.
However, the Huskies immediately responded on their first drive as Demetrius Dortch (9 rushes, 115 yards; 5 receptions, 110 yards) darted down the Tigers’ sideline for an 85-yard score to even things up just 1:20 into the game.
“We had some guys that really worked hard, and Demetrius is one of them,” Hoerster said. “He’s a great kid who’s a special athlete and competitor. I couldn’t be more proud of how he played.”
OPRF then surprised WWS with a successful onside kick, and used more trickery on the following drive as Anthony Brown gained a first down on a fake punt. But a holding penalty stalled things and the Huskies eventually punted.
WWS scored on its next two possessions, a pair of touchdown runs by Lance Kottke to take a 21-7 lead after the first quarter.
However, late in the second quarter, OPRF embarked on an 82-yard scoring march of 11 plays, capped by Kelby Gray’s two-yard dive up the middle to cut the deficit to 21-14 at the half.
The Huskies continued the momentum as the third quarter when Gray (14 rushes, 92 yards, 2 TD) again found the house, this time from 46 yards out to tie things up at 21.
“We’re fortunate that we have a handful of running backs that have a great work ethic and are unselfish,” said Hoerster.
But Sommerdyke countered with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Bell on the ensuing drive to give the Tigers the lead for good. Then on OPRF’s next possession, a fumble by Eric Locke (5 receptions, 45 yards) was recovered by WWS, who took immediate advantage when Sommerdyke tossed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Quentin Spencer for a 35-21 lead after three.
“We were right there; we had some opportunities and were just a bit off,” Hoerster said. “Hat’s off to Wheaton-Warrenville South; they’re a good program and made a few more plays than we did.”
WWS put the game away midway through the final quarter when Sommerdyke threw his fourth touchdown pass, 34 yards to Bell. OPRF quarterback Jack Gooch (18-for-41, 209 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Martin late for the final scoring.
“I told [the players] that Week 1 is the ugliest game we’re going to play all year,” said Hoerster. “We have to make a commitment to learn from this and get better.”
The Huskies will host Hinsdale South on Sept. 3. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Fenwick breezes past Morgan Park 35-12
Fenwick opened its season in impressive fashion with a 35-12 rout of Morgan Park Aug. 27 at Triton College.
The Friars tallied three touchdowns in the first quarter to take a 21-0 lead and coasted from there.
Quarterback Kaden Cobb ran for one score and threw for two others — 14 yards to Cam Coppage and 44 yards to Bryan Hunt Jr. He also connected with Max Reese on a 55-yard pass to set up one of two touchdown runs by Danny Kent.
Fenwick hosts Niles Notre Dame Sept. 3 at Triton, with the kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.