July 3rd, 2018 10:52 AM
A Fenwick player turns up field while being closely defended by a OPRF player during the crosstown rivals' 7-on-7 freshmen football scrimmage at OPRF Stadium. (Alexa Rogals/Staff Photographer)
It wasn't a Friday in autumn under the lights, but the Fenwick Friars and Oak Park River Forest Huskies did square off on a football field last week. On June 28, the two freshmen squads competed in a 7-on-7 scrimmage and a linemen challenge at OPRF.
The offensive team would start at the opponent's 40-yard-line and get ten plays to score as many times as possible. Each team was rewarded a point for either scoring on offense or forcing a turnover on defense. Fenwick won the first two series, and OPRF took home the last three. The 7-on-7 format only includes skilled positions players—a quarterback, running backs, and wide receivers—and the play is over once an offensive player is touched by a defensive player with two hands.
It was the first external competition either of the teams faced this year; both teams had only had a few practices under their belts before the game. For some of the players, it was the first organized football scrimmage they'd ever played in.
"It's a whole different pace than just playing against each other," OPRF freshman coach Joe Conway said. "You can tell that there are a lot of guys still picking up the basics."
Both teams visibly improved game by game, and all players played for each team by the end of the scrimmage. In the early going, Fenwick quarterback Kaden Cobb had his way with the OPRF defense. Cobb threw five touchdown passes in the first 20 plays of the scrimmage, rarely missing his wide receiver targets.
"(Kaden) is a very talented kid and definitely a winner," Fenwick coach Mark Vruno said. "We're very fortune to have him and the sky is the limit for him."
OPRF also has the luxury of having a talented player at the most important position. Drew Kunkel was on the mark on the majority of his throws, but OPRF's wide receivers struggled catching the ball early on.
Of course, with no rush to worry about, things were made easier for each team's quarterbacks. Kunkel and Cobb showed incredible potential in their first live action of the season.
The crowd surely wasn't as large as it would be for a varsity game in the fall, but just the idea of the crosstown rivals playing on the same field yielded a decent crowd for a 7-on-7 matchup in June.
Although Vruno and Conway expressed their desire for a varsity matchup in the regular season for the two teams in the future, Fenwick Athletic Director Scott Thies said that there were no plans for that to happen in the near future.
After the 7-on-7, the linemen got to have their fun, competing in relay races throwing medicine balls and drills where a lineman for each team would try to pull a tire and their opponent backwards five yards.
"I'd love to get back to the old days where we actually play each other in the regular season," Coach Vruno said. "But it's great to have these guys get out there and compete against their village rival anyway."