Despite dropping a 50-29 decision last Friday to crosstown rival Oswego, all is not lost for Oswego East.
“I’m not a big believer in moral victories, but it’s something that’s gonna carry us for the rest of the season,” first-year Wolves coach Tyson LeBlanc said of his team’s effort in the hard-hitting game that featured 144 yards in penalties (55 for his team, 89 for the Panthers).
The decision left Oswego East 3-2 overall.
“We’ve talked all along coming into this week that even though this is a big game, we have to keep our eyes on the big prize and that’s getting into the state playoffs, because anything can happen once you get there,” LeBlanc continued.
“Honestly, we’d have liked to win this game, but they’re a heckuva football team and they’re just a little bit more physical than we are.”
Comforting to LeBlanc and his staff had to be the play of senior running back Chris Cooper, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season but was fourth on the team entering the Oswego game after being limited by an early-season shoulder injury.
Cooper came in with 60 yards rushing on 32 carries (1.9 average) and three pass receptions for 32 yards. He topped both Friday, accounting for all four Wolves’ scores.
“He had a great game,” LeBlanc said of Cooper’s 69 yards rushing on 18 carries and 167 yards receiving on five catches, including scoring runs of 21 and eight yards, and touchdowns catch-and-runs on screens that covered 60 and 82 yards.
“This week with the game plan, I don’t know that we put enough in for him, but as the game went along, we did a better job of getting him the ball,” LeBlanc said.
The Wolves remaining games are at home with Plainfield Central, at Minooka, then home dates against Romeoville and Plainfield North.
Sandwich sittin’ pretty
Coach Dusty Behringer and his Sandwich Indians find themselves alone atop the Interstate Eight Large standings after claiming a 14-10 decision over previously unbeaten Coal City.
“Coal City has one of the best defenses in the conference, if not the state, and they were letting people know about it,” said Behringer. “We think our defense is pretty good, too, even though we had allowed 42 points to Manteno the week before. I was very proud of our defensive effort.”
The Indians limited the Coalers to 152 totals yards (131 rushing), forced a safety and won the turnover battle 3-1.
FB/MLB Seth McDonald, who scored the winning touchdown on a one-yard run with 2:27 remaining, was in on 13 tackles (eight solo, five assists) to tie DE Erik Schwartz (11 solo, two assists) for the team lead.
“We got the safety when they were punting from their end zone and the punter got a low snap and went to one knee to catch it (with 8:17 remaining),” said Behringer, whose team got an interception two possessions later.
“Erik (Schwartz) tipped it at the line and it went straight up in the air and Jarrod Johnson, another junior, came down with it. Erik has really come into his own. He’s a high motor, high energy guy.
“And Jarrod only comes in and plays the nose in passing situations. He’s been involved in something like 15 plays, but he’s got the interception and a couple of forced fumbles. He makes things happen. He plays like he practices, all out.”
Some kinda run
That’s what Oswego had, scoring 43 straight points after spotting Oswego East a 15-7 lead.
“You would’ve thought we run the spread, huh?” asked a pleased Oswego Coach Brian Cooney afterward. “We found a bubble in their defense and kept shooting holes through it. And No. 7 (Mickeel Stewart) did what he’s capable of doing and that leads to big chunks of yardage and controlling clock, things we try to do week in and week out.”
Aurora Christian’s Chad Beebe, the area’s leading receiver, missed Friday’s win over St. Francis with a broken arm suffered the week before.
Beebe’s dad, Don, said Chad did not have to have surgery and the earliest he is likely to return would be Week 8 (Oct. 12) at Montini, but if he’s not able, he would also be held out of the regular season finale against Guerin and “then play in the playoffs. That is our hope.”
Oswego DE Chad Burdo, who was sidelined with what appeared to be a serious knee injury, was scheduled to see a doctor Monday, according to coach Brian Cooney.
With 56 percent of the season completed, four area teams have become playoff eligible and five more are one win away.
Waubonsie Valley (19-0 over Bartlett), Aurora Christian (41-14 over St. Francis), Batavia (33-29 over Lake Park) and Kaneland (34-6 over Rochelle) all won their fifth straight without a loss last Friday and need just one more win each to secure a playoff berth.
Aurora Central, Oswego, Plano, Sandwich and Mooseheart are all 4-1 with four weeks remaining and all five appear to be locks for the postseason.