Fenwick and Oak Park and River Forest host games against Dunbar and Willowbrook, respectively, in the second week of the high school football season. The Friars welcome visiting Dunbar at Triton College in River Grove, while the Huskies take on Willowbrook in a difficult West Suburban Conference crossover.
Here are my thoughts and predictions for both games, which kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6.
Fenwick (1-0) vs. Dunbar (0-1), 7:30 p.m., Triton College, River Grove
Last Week: Fenwick defeated Curie 45-14; Dunbar lost at Marist 42-0.
Outlook: The Friars looked impressive in last week's win over Curie, particularly on offense. Sophomore quarterback Kaden Cobb played like a seasoned vet in his varsity debut and got plenty of help from a stout running game. Danny Kent (103 yards, 2 TDs) and Isaac Novak (92 yards, 3 total TDs) enjoyed sterling performances thanks to a strong push from Sean Carpenter and the rest of the offensive line. Defensively, Bryce Legan (11 tackles) and Danny Farnan (9 tackles) led the way for Fenwick.
The Friars host Dunbar, which is coming off a shutout loss at Marist. Long a traditional powerhouse in the Chicago Public League, the Mightymen qualified for last year's IHSA Class 3A playoffs, losing to Herscher 37-20 in the first round. Twins Laron (quarterback) and Kayron (wide receiver) Owens are the headliners for Dunbar.
Tate's Take: On paper, this should be an easy win for Fenwick, and I believe it will be. But as well as the offense looked last week, I would like to see the Friars improve the passing numbers to become more balanced. Defensively, there were occasional dips when it came to focus on the running game. It's imperative that the Friars are locked in mentally for a full 48 minutes. A young team like the Fenwick can't afford many mental lapses once it starts playing very good teams. Still, the team is a work in progress so patience is required.
The Friars should notch their second win of the season, which will serve as a confidence-builder with a rigorous three-game stretch against Nazareth, Joliet Catholic, and Marist coming up.
Prediction: Fenwick 49, Dunbar 14
OPRF (0-1) vs. Willowbrook (0-1), 7:30 p.m., Oak Park Stadium
Last Week: OPRF lost at Waubonsie Valley 23-14; Willowbrook lost to Providence 14-7.
Outlook: The Huskies and Warriors are both coming off relatively close losses to quality teams. Led by running back Nazareth Bryant's 96 yards on 14 carries, OPRF ran the ball well, amassing 188 rushing yards against Waubonsie Valley. However, the Huskies passed for only seven yards. Obviously, more balance will be needed for OPRF to have any chance of success in 2019. Defensively, the young defense played fairly well, but two long touchdown passes allowed turned out to be the difference in last week's loss.
Willowbrook, which has reached the state quarterfinals three consecutive seasons, couldn't hang on to a 7-0 halftime lead at home against Providence, one of the area's perennially strong programs. Quarterback Sam Tumilty attempted to rally the Warriors in the closing seconds; however he threw an interception at the Celtics' goal line to seal Willowbrook's fate. The Warriors' strength offensively is a stout passing game with wide receivers Deandre Holliday and Everett Stubblefield as Tumilty's top targets. Montini transfer Ta'Vion Geanes looks to help Willowbrook increase its running game. He runs behind a solid line that includes mainstays Sergio Ayala and J.J. Gregory. Ayala, defensive back Mohammed Ayesh, linebacker Travis Moore and Tumilty lead a fast, athletic defense.
Tate's Take: Both OPRF and Willowbrook entered the season with high expectations. Coming off difficult losses last week, both team will be looking to right the ship.
The difference in this game? The Dog Pound. This is OPRF's home opener and there should be a large turnout at Oak Park Stadium. The Huskies generally feed off the energy the Dog Pound student section, Marching Huskies, cheerleaders, drill team, and fans supply and consequently play at a higher level.
Also, the greatest improvement in a football team often comes between Week 1 and Week 2. I anticipate the Huskies faring better offensively. In a close game between two evenly-matched teams, I usually go with the home team and I'll do so again here: OPRF squeaks out a much-needed win against a tough opponent.
Prediction: OPRF 28, Willowbrook 21
Answer Book 2019
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