MINOOKA – Some, like Minooka receiver Zach Zamora, believe the Southwest Prairie Conference varsity football championship may very well be decided Friday night at Oswego.
That may seem ambitious considering two teams that are a combined 1-3 will face off in the first week of league play. Two SPC teams, Oswego East and Plainfield East, went 2-0 during nonconference play, and only one other team (Plainfield Central) was, like Oswego, winless.
Recent history suggests Minooka and Oswego are the teams to beat in the SPC.
Oswego is the two-time defending champion, having gone 14-0 in the SPC since 2011. In 2011, the Panthers started 0-2 before putting together a perfect season in conference play.
Minooka was one of three teams to finish 6-1 atop the SPC standings in 2010, and the Indians and Panthers had identical 6-1 conference records in 2009.
“The other thing you’ve got to look at too is that [Oswego] lost to really good teams and two big programs – Waubonsie Valley and Geneva, who has a really good football team this year. They’ve not lost to a couple slouches,” Minooka coach Paul Forsythe said.
“Looking at them on film, they’re probably one of the best 0-2 teams I’ve seen. We’re not going to take this lightly at all.”
Nathan Gunn rushed 15 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns to pace a Minooka offense that produced 266 rushing yards in its 21-14 opening-week win over Morris.
The next week, the Indians were held to 52 rushing yards on 27 attempts. Quarterbacks Shane Briscoe and Jake Czerniakowski combined to complete 20-of-34 passes for 213 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception.
Zamora’s nine catches for 133 yards led the team.
“I definitely believe that our intensity level has to change,” Zamora said.
“Just getting off the ball. We want to run a hurry-up offense here, and I believe that we didn’t really run it too well against Providence but that we’re going to get it done this week.”
Sophomore quarterback Steven Frank has completed 18-of-44 passes for 315 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions in Oswego’s losses to Geneva, 29-27, and Waubonsie Valley, 40-21.
With 46 yards, Frank is the team’s second-leading rusher behind senior Tyler Walsh, who has gained 232 yards on 51 carries and scored three times.
The Oswego defense has forced only one turnover, a Charlie Jakubowski interception, so far this season.
Geneva gained 429 yards on the Panthers, and their defensive effort against Waubonsie Valley prompted coach Brian Cooney to tell the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald, “The story tonight for our defense was giving up way too many big plays.”
“They’re big and they’re physical. They also have the ability to do some wide sets and throw the ball a little bit,” Forsythe said of the Panthers.
“I think they’re going to try and run the ball a little bit and test us there. That’s what I would do.
“Defensively, they’re playing better.”