An emotional finish : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|An emotional finish|
|Oswego East football strikes first, but season closes with 48-14 loss to finish 4-5 overall|
|by Kristin Sharp|
Rain started to fall again and the scoreboard was dark, but the Oswego East football players remained on the field long after the final horn sounded last Friday night.
An emotional group of athletes reflected on the end of a hard-fought 2012 season after it came to an end with a 48-14 loss to Plainfield North in Week 9.
Oswego East closed out the season with a 4-5 overall record under first-year head coach Tyson LeBlanc. The program has only achieved four wins one other time in its eight-year varsity history, back in 2007.
"One thing that we as a coaching staff stressed to them is if you want change, you have to change it," LeBlanc said. "Bringing in a new coach, changing the offensive philosophy, changing the defensive philosophy doesn't mean anything if the kids don't buy into it and change the things they've done in the past that have made them unsuccessful.
"Obviously we're not happy with the way things finished up tonight, but very proud of this group of seniors. The message I said to them is as much as it hurts right now, when they come back five years from now and this is a winning program, it's because of what they started. It's because of what they did this year. As a 17, 18-year-old kid, it's tough to envision that, but it's going to happen. We're going to make it happen."
Plainfield North improved to 7-2 with the win and secured second place in the Southwest Prairie Conference at 6-2. The Tigers received the No. 6 seed in the Class 7A playoffs and will visit No. 3 Oswego on Friday at 7 p.m. in the opening round.
Oswego East had plenty to fight for last Friday, hosting Plainfield North for a potentially historic win, and the Wolves came out of the gate ready to play.
The Tigers, however, were not ready for the opening kickoff.
Plainfield North senior Kendall Interial was met by Oswego East junior Jacob Gladysz, who knocked the ball out of Interial's hands. Oswego East senior Ryan Draksler recovered the fumbled kickoff return and the Wolves' sideline erupted.
Oswego East used just four plays to reach the end zone and take the early lead. Senior Chris Cooper had a 3-yard gain before a 24-yard quarterback keeper by senior Sean Kennedy to the Plainfield North 5.
After a 2-yard loss, Kennedy found senior wide receiver Scooter Smith for the 7-yard touchdown pass with 10:56 on the clock.
Kennedy's pass attempt was fumbled in the end zone, but recovered by senior Killian Mills for a successful two-point conversion and an 8-0 Oswego East lead.
"We've been fighting," Kennedy said. "That's one thing we can take away from the season, and the juniors and sophomores moving forward can never give up. That's something we can hang our hat on. We were fighting to the very end, and I think that's good."
Plainfield North answered on its next possession as senior Jay Roberts carried the ball six times to help position the Tigers at the Oswego East 3. Junior Robert Baker had a short 1-yard gain before scoring from the 2-yard line with 6:09 to play in the first quarter.
Roberts tried for the two-point conversion, but he was stopped short and Oswego East maintained an 8-6 lead.
Cooper had a first-down run into Plainfield North territory on the Wolves' next possession, but two incomplete passes and a run for a 3-yard loss forced Oswego East to punt.
Although Plainfield North was pinned back to the 1-yard line on the ensuing punt, the Tigers scored in just four plays - thanks to an 88-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Kurt Palendech.
Palendech also ran in the two-point conversion, and with 2:54 to play in the first quarter, the Tigers led 14-8.
Plainfield North eventually scored 48 unanswered points to assume a 48-8 lead and a running clock with 6:22 left to play in the third quarter.
"They put together a great game plan for us," LeBlanc said. "We weren't able to win the battles on the edge. That's what we came into the game hanging our hat on. Palendech, who plays quarterback and defensive back, did a great job of stopping our top receiver. Hat's off to them; we just ran into a team that was better than us."
Plainfield North's third touchdown came on a 36-yard run by Roberts as time expired on the first quarter, and the extra point kick extended the Tigers' lead, 21-8. Plainfield North also benefited from a botched snap on a punt attempt and took possession at the Oswego East 17. After an 8-yard gain by Roberts, he covered the remaining distance on the next play, and senior Chase Meadows' kick was good for a 28-8 score.
Kennedy was good for a 25-yard run on Oswego East's next possession, but a 7-yard loss on second down created a bad situation for the Wolves, who punted on fourth-and-long.
Less than three minutes later, Plainfield North was back in the end zone on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Palendech to senior Brett Fox. The extra point kick was good for a 35-8 lead.
Oswego East had a sustained drive midway through the second quarter after a first-down run by Cooper, but the Wolves stalled on third-and-10. Junior kicker Jason Evans sent a 45-yard punt to the Tigers, and the Wolves' defense came up with a stop.
Facing third-and-14, Palendech's pass to Roberts was short of the first down and the Tigers punted for the first time in the game with 1:02 to play in the first half.
Plainfield North held Oswego East to three-and-out on its first possession of the second half and took possession near midfield. Palendech took the opening snap under center and ran 47 yards for the score and a 42-8 lead.
A false start, incomplete passes and a personal foul call pushed Oswego East back to its own 15-yard line in the third quarter and the Wolves were forced to punt on fourth-and-30.
Plainfield North scored its final touchdown one minute later on a 1-yard run, and the extra point kick was no good.
Oswego East seemed to be headed toward the end zone late in the third quarter when a Evans was tackled and Plainfield North was whistled for roughing the kicker.
With a first down in Plainfield North territory, Kennedy threw an apparent 48-yard touchdown to senior Joe Talton, but the score was called back by a holding penalty. The Wolves continued to move the ball into the fourth quarter before Plainfield North intercepted Kennedy at its own 20.
Oswego East put one final score on the board with 3:15 remaining in the game when Kennedy connected with junior Branden Lowe from 39 yards out, sealing the final 48-18 score.