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09/01/2012 Maywood Oak Park River Forest senior Tom Odell (21) breaks through a Proviso East tackle during the first half of the game at Proviso East on Saturday, September 1, 2012. | michael jarecki ~ for Sun-Times Media
A lifeguard in the Sarhara.
A timer at a tortoise race.
A bikini designer in the Antarctic.
A wide receiver at Oak Park-River Forest.
Through the first half of OPRF’s 16-12 loss to Downers Grove North in the teams’ WSC Silver opener on Friday, the Huskies appeared to have forgotten about their air attack. Head coach John Hoerster called for four passing plays.
Three times quarterback Lloyd Yates targeted running back Jakari Cammon, the conference co-offensive player of the year as a jumior.
One — only one — pass was directed toward a wide receiver.
Yet, senior Tom Odell, who split out wide on offense, said being a wideout for the Huskies is not the equivalent of working the carving station during a banquet for vegetarians.
“You have got to do your best to block out,” said the 5-foot-11, 190-pound team captain. “Blocking is just as important as catching a pass. A good receiver can give you a 10- to 20-yard play with a good block.”
At least Odell can take out his frustration on defense when he takes over at linebacker.
In the first half of Friday’s game in Downers Grove, OPRF signaled in 30 running plays. When you have a horse like Cammon, you have to ride it.
After being shut out and trailing 3-0, OPRF began looking to the air. But only after the Trojans successfully executed a fake field goal and kicker Gareth Jones ran five yards and kicked the PAT to give the hosts a 10-0 lead with 1:53 left in the third quarter.
So, after throwing just four passes through three quarters and 40 plays, the Huskies grew daring. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Yates discoverd Samora Nesbitt wide open, looking like the only guy on the field, for a 54-yard touchdown pass.
“I had lost it in the lights,” the 6-3 senior admitted.
He noted that the change of strategy may have come due to necessity. The Trojans (3-0, 1-0) were keying on Cammon, who added 12 yards on eight rushing attempts in the second half, after carrying 17 times for 53 yards before intermission.
“At the end, we had to move the ball,” Samora added.
It was Odell who wound up being Yates’ favorite receiver, collecting four catches for 76 yards, including a 57-yard strike that set up a 7-yard touchdown pass to junior Ryan Chancellor.
“The first two games we didn’t need to run those plays,” said Odell, who’s recovered from a broken leg. “It worked out really well. I think we were trying to stay safe with what we knew.”
So it might be that when OPRF (2-1, 0-1) welcomes York (0-3, 0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, there might be a passing play or two in the game plan.
“Our passing game was effective,” Hoerseter rated. “A big improvement from last year.”