Hinsdale South’s offensive line has learned to adapt

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Hinsdale South must win its last two games to be considered for the IHSA football playoffs.

Frank Cabrera hopes to be there for all of them after the offensive lineman couldn’t play down the stretch a year ago. He was the only junior on an all-senior offensive line back then for Hinsdale South, which finished last season with a 6-4 record after losing to Oak Forest 29-0 in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.

The Hornets (3-4, 3-1 West Suburban Gold) had their window of opportunity for this year’s playoffs narrowed with a 17-7 loss to Hinsdale Central (4-3) Friday night in the 31st annual Doings Cup. South’s last win over Central was 35-27 in 2001.

Cabrera is the leader on the line for Hinsdale South’s offense, which has changed direction during the course of the season. Beginning the year under senior quarterback Jake Czajkowski, the Hornets expected to score through the air using weapons such as wide receiver Mark Watson and Shaun Dulleck. That would compensate for the loss of running back Arian Toney, who suffered a fracture to his foot in the preseason.

Eventually Czajkowski returned to linebacker and junior Rob Regan stepped in at QB to ignite a rushing attack with Michael Fassero, Alex Holmstrom and Robert Hall.

Meanwhile, the offensive line adapted as the season progressed.

“We just have to do our jobs and read the defense,” said Cabrera, a Darien resident.

As a two-year starter at left guard, Cabrera is Hinsdale South’s biggest offensive player at 6-foot-3, 280 pounds. He started playing football at Eisenhower Jr. High and was always considered one of the biggest players on the team.

Cabrera isn’t thinking about playing at the next level while staying focused on a possible playoff berth.

Cabrera severely sprained his left ankle in last year’s Doings Cup, a 34-27 loss at Central Sept. 29, and was forced to sit out the rest of the season. Eventually, Jake Dorrance returned from a concussion to fill Cabrera’s spot for the season finale and playoff game.

“I did help when he took my position,” Cabrera said. “I would give him tips and help and stuff.”

Cabrera still wears a brace for his left ankle, but only as a precaution. Much of his offseason training involved strengthening the muscles around his ankle.

Dorrance has since moved to center this season, replacing Zach Guritz, a walk-on at Northwestern. The rest of the offensive line includes junior Ikjot Wahi at left tackle, junior Jamar Taylor at right guard and senior Carlos Navarro at right tackle.

Hinsdale South’s offensive line was unproven before the season began, but now the Hornets are be in position to claim a share of the division title. With a home victory over Morton (1-6, 1-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, that could set up a showdown at Downers Grove South (4-3. 4-0), which has won four of its last five games after an 0-2 start under new coach Mark Molinari.

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