NORTHLAKE — The result was the same regardless of who was carrying the ball for Oak Park-River Forest on Friday night: big chunks of yards.
The Huskies’ offensive line — led by seniors Adam Lemke-Bell and Philip Berton — opened gaping holes all night as OPRF rolled to a 48-13 nonconference victory over Leyden Friday in Northlake.
“The offensive line has been stepping up huge since the beginning of the season,” OPRF senior quarterback Lloyd Yates said. “They’re doing great and that’s just awesome.”
The Huskies (2-0) rushed for 270 yards in the first half and started the running clock after taking a 42-0 lead over the Eagles (0-2) in the third quarter. Yates handed a lot of credit to seniors Lemke-Bell and Berton, both starters last year as juniors.
“They’re very smart guys,” Yates said. “They work hard and they play hard and it shows.”
Both Lemke-Bell and Berton love getting the opportunity to play on an offense as exciting as the one the Huskies showcase.
“Up front we’re just trying to get as big a push as possible and it helps that our backs are so explosive,” Berton said. “We have tons of mutual respect for each other.”
“Part of our mission is just to go out there and be big boys, throw our weight around a little bit,” Lemke-Bell said. “We have a pretty big offensive line this year and we just need to make those blocks.”
The only problem the line faces is trying to locate their ball carrier. One reason why OPRF’s option offense is so effective is that even the Huskies’ on the field don’t know where the ball is.
Yates (5 carries, 85 yards, 5-for-7 passing, 50 yards) scored one of his two rushing touchdowns when he ran untouched 26 yards up the middle because Leyden defenders pursued the running back on a sweep.
“We have to play a little differently,” Berton said. “Instead of just driving our guy we have to run downfield, so it helps that our line is pretty athletic.”
“I just do what I’m supposed to do,” Lemke-Bell said. “Obviously I know where the play is supposed to go but when you have a quarterback like Lloyd, he makes a lot of decisions that end up benefitting everyone.”
On Friday, the Huskies didn’t score until the end of the first quarter, but couldn’t be stopped once they got rolling. Antonio Cannon was the leading rusher, finishing with 187 yards and two scores on 10 carries.
— Leyden scored twice in the second half, on long throws from quarterback Tom Pajor to Alex Lemon (6 receptions, 111 yards). The 6-1 wide receiver hauled in touchdown grabs of 28 and 47 yards.