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Shattering the Status Quo

OPRF football needs a statement win against mighty Glenbard West

October 10th, 2017 12:00 PM

Photo collage by Artis Carrol

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Melvin Tate

Contributing Reporter

"The status quo sucks" is a quote from George Carlin that the Oak Park and River Forest High School football team adopted as a slogan last season.

Loosely translated for the Huskies' purposes, it means that while OPRF has qualified for the state playoffs a school-record five seasons in a row and been a consistent winner under head coach John Hoerster, more is expected.

Another opportunity to truly take that next step arrives this weekend against 2016 Class 8A state semifinalist Glenbard West at home, on Friday the 13th no less.

Last season, the Huskies rolled into Glen Ellyn brimming with confidence and a 6-0 record offering suggestions that OPRF was finally ready to beat Glenbard West. In span of about three hours, the Hilltoppers dropped 56 points, 625 yards of offense and the Huskies' morale in one fell swoop.

Glenbard West enters Friday's game, again, as a prohibitive favorite. The Hilltoppers (6-1) have already beaten conference contenders Hinsdale Central and Lyons Township. Other than a shocking 64-32 loss against Maine South in their season opener, the Hilltoppers have been coasting by the competition as smoothly as ducks on Lake Ellyn during a picturesque fall afternoon.

Glenbard West has a dynamic offense, featuring three good running backs in Tyquan Cox, Ryan Diver and Dre Thomas, a solid quarterback in Alex Hollensbee, and a stud receiver in Alec Pierce. The defense has improved greatly since the shellacking administered by Maine South.

And here's a daunting stat for OPRF fans. Since Chad Hetlet took over the program in 2007, Glenbard West is 118-17 with two state titles.

Nevertheless, it's time for the Huskies to beat the Hilltoppers. This so-called "rivalry" needs to become one. It has been 10 years since the Huskies dealt Glenbard West a loss.

To paraphrase Judge Smails' line to Danny Noonan right before the latter's final winning putt in the movie "Caddyshack."

"Well Huskies, we're waiting."

Keys to beating Glenbard West

In order to beat the Hilltoppers, OPRF (5-2) will need to run the ball very effectively and control time of possession. Led by Terrance Roundy (17 carries, 127 yards) and Keith Robinson (9 carries, 87 yards), OPRF ran for 242 yards against York in a 30-7 victory last week. Quarterbacks Brian May and Toby Kunkel and wide receivers Trevon Brown and Craig Shelton need to play very well against Glenbard West. It's a given that the Huskies must win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball against the stout Hilltoppers' linemen.

Defensively, the Huskies can't give up any long runs outside against Glenbard West. Containment is a must. If OPRF can keep everything bottled up on the inside, the Huskies have a chance.

What would a win over Glenbard West mean?

Not only would it clinch the Huskies a sixth straight playoff berth, it would improve the perception some outsiders such as high school football analyst Edgy Tim have of Hoerster's program. Skeptics of OPRF football admit the program is solid, but needs more signature wins over the likes of Glenbard West, and in the postseason, as well.

I disagree with that assessment a bit. The Huskies are better than solid- they are good. Consecutive wins over perennial power Lincoln-Way East in 2014 and 2015, coupled with notable victories over Lyons Township, Hinsdale Central and Simeon in recent years, reinforce the quality of the program.

There's no doubt that OPRF football is consistently competitive under Hoerster again after going through a long period of mediocrity from the late 1980s until 2010. To be sure, there were a handful of playoff appearances during that time, but the Huskies  - despite always having quality athletes - could never sustain competitiveness. In fact, there were several seasons that the team won only two or three games, and the brand of football wasn't exciting, which led to widespread apathy in both the school and community. 
 
The Huskies had nobody to blame but themselves for the backhanded compliment, "sleeping giant" regarding the program's status.
 
That all changed upon Hoerster's arrival in 2011. Yes, OPRF was 3-6 in his first season, but I could tell that he was bringing a nice, fast-paced style of play to the program that would maximize the talents of his players. The excitement increased in 2012 with a 7-4 record and a playoff spot. Coolest part of the year? Winning at Hinsdale Central twice, including the first-round game. 2012 marked the first of five straight seasons of at least seven wins.
 
That's a hallmark of consistency in my book.

And yet, that elusive higher level remains hovering over the program.

The Huskies have the talent, coaching, facility and resources to get it done.

Only one other thing is still missing, and it's something I've written about before. The Huskies need more enthusiasm from the community. I know the parents and friends of the players are always supportive. I'm talking about the larger community as a whole.

Sure, attendance is up at Oak Park Stadium in recent years. The atmosphere in my opinion, however, is largely silent. A loud and supportive environment could do wonders for the Huskies and perhaps rattle the typically unflappable Hilltoppers.

So, for this Friday's home game against Glenbard West, I want to see the grandstand packed at the opening kickoff. I want to hear a loud, supportive, and encouraging atmosphere from the start. When the Huskies need a defensive stop on third down, I'd love to see the fans get up out of their seats and yell encouragement to the guys. They appreciate and feed off your noise. Sometimes instead of waiting for something good to happen, you need to help make it happen.
 
And there's this - I wrote earlier OPRF is playoff-eligible. That's true, but a team needs six wins to secure a spot. The Huskies need one more victory, and it would make the regular-season finale at Lyons Township October 20 considerably less stressful if they beat Glenbard West. So there's incentive for the Dog Pound student section as well as the rest of the stadium to be as loud and boisterous as possible Friday night. 

Shattering the status quo is never easy, but the OPRF players, coaches and fans can only make it happen one way.

Together.

 

*For more information about the OPRF/Glenbard West game - as well as other OPRF and Fenwick sports news - check out www.oakpark.com and Friar/Huskie Sports Nation on Facebook.