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They Got Game

OPRF, Fenwick football teams consistently produce next-level talent

September 4th, 2018 11:31 AM

Melvin Tate

Contributing Reporter

Entering this high school football season, Oak Park and River Forest has amassed 656 wins (11th all-time in Illinois high school football history). Fenwick claims 541 wins, which nets a tie for 50th in the all-time victory column.  

Numbers don't lie. The Huskies and Friars have long-standing winning traditions in Oak Park.

The primary reason for their success: great players.

Of course, everyone knows about Fenwick legend Johnny Lattner. The Friars' best player ever went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1953 while starring at Notre Dame. His jersey number #34 deservedly hangs in the rafters of Fenwick's Fieldhouse Gym. Moreover, his Heisman Trophy accompanies the current Fenwick football team to all games. As the players take the field before each game, each Friar pauses to rub the trophy for good luck.

Talk about a wonderful new tradition!

OPRF has retired only two numbers. Obviously, Iman Shumpert's #32 is retired for his basketball achievements.

The other number?

 #14 worn by football's Eric Kumerow. Kumerow was a dominating force at linebacker and also an accomplished basketball and baseball player for the Huskies during the mid-1980s. He was named All-State and All-American, and then went on to have college and pro careers at Ohio State and with the Miami Dolphins, respectively.

Players like Lattner and Kumerow serve as exemplary reminders as to why Fenwick and OPRF have sustained football success.

And today, there are several recent Fenwick and OPRF graduates that could potentially play in the NFL either this fall or in future years. 

Fox example, alums like Fenwick's Ryan Smith (Packers tight end) and Robert Spillane (Titans linebacker) and OPRF's Simmie Cobbs (Redskins wide receiver) are all hoping to survive NFL roster cuts this weekend. Additionally, there are other recent alums playing in college currently with dreams of a shot at NFL glory.

Former Huskies currently playing college football include wide receiver Jared Scott, fullback Jahmari Moore and defensive back Keyon Blankenbaker (all at Wyoming). Other Huskies playing college football include wide receiver Lloyd Yates (Northwestern), defensive lineman Allen Stallings (Indiana), quarterback Jeremy Hunt, wide receiver Eddie Gorens and offensive lineman Jacob Hale (all at Central Missouri).

Fenwick grads playing in college include wide receiver Michael O'Laughlin (West Virginia), offensive tackle Austin Glazier and defensive lineman Ellis Taylor (Fordham), quarterback Jacob Keller (Northern Iowa), wide receiver Sherman Martin (Toledo) and offensive lineman Adrian Nourse (Aquinas).

Even the current OPRF and Fenwick teams boast a few potential college players. The Huskies feature defensive end Izaiah Ruffin, who has made an oral commitment to Cincinnati. Wide receiver Trevon Brown, nose tackle Ashford Hollis, linebacker Cedric Cheatham, and defensive back Machi Young are drawing plenty of interest from college recruiters. 

As for the Friars, junior quarterback Danny Cronin had a nice summer which included recruiting interest from several Division I college programs. A solid season by the strong-armed 6-3 signal-caller will surely attract more recruiters. On defense, the Friars' Max Forst, Konrad Skowrya and Solomon Singleton all have a chance to play collegiately next fall. 

As long as both schools showcase local talent while also winning games, expect the college recruiting pipeline to flow freely in Oak Park.