In recent years, the OPRF football team’s games with Downers Grove North have been hard-fought and competitive.
On Sept. 22 at Oak Park Stadium in front of a large Homecoming crowd, it seemed another tight game would be in store after the opening quarter was scoreless. But the visiting Trojans took command with a 17-point second quarter and rolled to a 38-6 victory over the Huskies.
“They’re a really good football team,” said OPRF coach John Hoerster. “They’ve got a quarterback [Owen Lansu] who can really spin it, several running backs that can go, and a good offensive line with a great scheme. Defensively, they gave us fits; we had a really hard time getting anything going on offense. They had a great game plan and executed it perfectly.”
OPRF (1-4, 1-2 in West Suburban Conference Silver Division) moved the ball well on the game’s opening drive and advanced into DGN territory. But then some trickery backfired.
Johnny Nelson took a snap from the Trojans’ 38 and threw a lateral to backup quarterback Owen Watson, who fired deep to Mikee Vielehr, but the defense read the play well and intercepted.
“They had it sniffed out,” Hoerster said. “We knew they were a good team, so we needed to try and get a spark. It wasn’t a bad throw; they just played it well.”
The Huskies’ defense was solid in the first quarter, but in the second, DGN (5-0, 2-0) started moving the ball. The Trojans converted two fourth downs on a lengthy drive that was capped with a two-yard touchdown run by Lansu, giving DGN a 7-0 lead with 7:36 left in the half.
To make matters worse, OPRF senior linebacker/running back and co-captain Sam Gray suffered a serious injury late in the half.
“Sam is just an unbelievable kid, and to see him go down like that was hard,” Hoerster said. “Everyone loves him so much; he’s a great teammate.”
OPRF averted the shutout when Nelson (19-of-36, 147 yards) connected with Vielehr (6 receptions, 39 yards) for a nine-yard touchdown with three minutes remaining in the contest. The Huskies finished with 236 yards of total offense.
Two bright spots offensively for OPRF were Jeremiah Jenkins, who caught eight receptions for 74 yards, along with Kobi Tate, who rushed for 45 yards—including an 18-yard burst—on six carries.
Tate also had a tackle for a loss defensively, and Khalil Nichols had a sack.
“Our kids kept fighting,” Hoerster said. “We’re dinged up a little bit and we’ve got a lot of guys getting reps in different positions, trying to figure it out. It’s a work in progress, and we’ve got to keep grinding.”
OPRF hosts Lyons Township Sept. 29, with kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m.