December 3rd, 2017 11:03 AM
Fenwick senior wide receiver Michael O'Laughlin has been of the best football players in the state the past two years. He's taking his talent next year to Morgantown, West Viriginia to play for West Virginia University. (File photo)
The 2017-18 high school basketball season has begun, and already there's been plenty of excitement as both the boys and girls Oak Park and River Forest teams defeated crosstown rival Fenwick. Both victories ended lengthy winless droughts for the Huskies against the Friars. Expect to see more thrills from the likes of Dashon Enoch, Isaiah Fuller, Charlie Hoehne, D.J. Steward, Michael O'Laughlin, and Damari Nixon for the boys' teams, while McKenzie Blaze, Kate Moore, Maeve Nelson, and Ahsha Spencer lead the girls as our teams progress through the season.
But for this week's Tate's Take, I thought I would wrap up the 2017 football season. Obviously, the win totals from each team declined from the unforgettable 2016 campaign, but there were still several good moments from the Huskies and Friars on the gridiron this year.
Here are a few that stand out:
- Trevon Brown's diving touchdown catch at Simeon with :28 left in the game that propelled OPRF to an exciting 29-28 season-opening win. It was a remarkable debut for the 6-foot-3 junior wide receiver, who went on to have a strong season and made the all-conference team in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division.
-In the Simeon game, the young Huskies displayed a never-say-die attitude, rallying from a 22-6 halftime deficit. Terrance Roundy's 138 yards rushing and 2 TDs spurred OPRF's rally, which was clinched by junior Izaiah Ruffin's game-ending sack of Simeon QB Alante Brown.
- Fenwick's most exciting game was a 31-28 win over De La Salle in Chicago that clinched a share of the Chicago Catholic League Green title. Brian Dowd's late field goal proved to be the game-winner for the Friars after a red zone stand by the defense.
- Fenwick's Lucas Kolovitz easily had the "Play of the Year" in the De La Salle win. He caught a short pass from quarterback Danny Cronin, shook off one Meteor defender, broke the tackle of another one, stiff-armed yet another defender, and dragged two more defenders into the end zone for a touchdown.
- Fenwick senior running back Jason Ivery made a smooth transition from defense to offense, rushing for over 1,000 yards on the season.
Despite these great moments, deep playoff runs were not meant to be this year for either team. The Huskies finished the regular season with a 5-4 record and were shut out at Marist in a Class 8A first-round game 44-0. The Friars fell at Wheaton North 35-7 in a 7A first-round game. Fenwick did defeat Leo 28-6 in the Catholic League playoffs, but lost the title game to St. Ignatius 35-0 to finish 7-5 overall.
This was my first season in an official capacity at the Wednesday Journal as a contributing sports writer, and I enjoyed being around the coaches, players and parents. I have many people to thank for making my job covering football easier.
At OPRF, I want to thank athletic director John Stelzer, assistant athletic director Courtney Sakellaris and head coach John Hoerster for their assistance and cooperation. Hoerster is a good coach that genuinely cares about his players. He was polite and always had plenty to say to me win or lose. On a personal note he thanked me and said I did a good job of coverage. I'm looking forward to working with John some more next season.
At Fenwick, I'd like to thank athletic director Scott Theis and head coach Gene Nudo for their help. In talking with Nudo, I get the feeling of experience and know-how. The Friars' program will be competitive as long as he's around. He was respectful to me and was thankful for my presence at the games. His players were great, too - I could always count on Michael O'Laughlin and Jason Ivery to talk with me afterwards.
Lastly, I need to thank the players' parents. From the Molina and Robinson families at OPRF to the Cronin, Glazier, O'Laughlin, Blakeney, and Laigos families at Fenwick, they were thankful for the local coverage supplied this season. They are encouraging and supportive.
I have put together an all-star football team for 2017, featuring the best players from the Friars and Huskies. Michael O'Laughlin is the Player of the Year. The West Virginia-bound receiver had another stellar season with several highlight-reel catches and more often than not was the best player on the field.
Here's my All-Wednesday Journal football team:
QB: Danny Cronin, sophomore, Fenwick
RB: Jason Ivery, senior, Fenwick and Terrance Roundy, senior, OPRF
WR: Trevon Brown, junior, OPRF; Michael O'Laughlin, senior, Fenwick; Jack Polston, senior, Fenwick
OL: Austin Glazier, senior, Fenwick; Jack De Lisle, senior, OPRF; Anthony Leopold, senior, Fenwick; Rickey Robinson, Jr., senior, OPRF; Phil Saleh, senior, OPRF
Kicker: Brian Dowd, sophomore, Fenwick
DL: Thomas Hogan, senior, Fenwick; Ashford Hollis, junior, OPRF; Jacob Kaminski, sophomore, Fenwick; Izaiah Ruffin, junior, OPRF
LB: Cedric Cheatham, junior, OPRF; Joseph Rafferty, senior, Fenwick; Kevin Gilbert, senior, OPRF
Secondary: Jalen Bates, freshman, Fenwick; Lorente Blakeney, senior, Fenwick; Lorenzano Blakeney, senior, Fenwick; Jonathan Mitchell, senior, OPRF
Punter: Henry Darrow, junior, OPRF
OPRF: Keith Robinson, Aidan Shea, Talvin Gibson II, Fred Brandstrader, Craig Shelton, Machi Young
Fenwick: Gavin Ortiz, Max Forst, Lucas Kolovitz Christian Davila, Michael Leopold, Solomon Singelton