By Brendan Cadman
For the Bugle
In Friday night’s rematch, of one of last season’s most thrilling IHSA State Playoff games, Oswego again sent Joliet West back home with a bitter taste in their mouth, as the Panthers cruised to an easy 25-6 victory.
“That is a solid program and they always play us hard,” Oswego head coach Brian Cooney said. “We knew that they would come out hard, but our guys just stayed the course and gained the momentum in the second quarter.”
After a scoreless first period, which saw both teams squander opportunities to jump out ahead, it was Oswego who was able to strike first in the early stages of the second quarter.
On the back end of a time consuming, 93-yard drive, the Panthers used a 27-yard catch from junior wide receiver Jamal Fomby Jr. to set up the first scoring play of the contest. Immediately following the huge gain fellow junior, running back Charles Coleman, gave the Panthers a 6-0 lead by way of a one-yard touchdown run.
As the Panther defense stood tall throughout the first half, Fomby was able to extend the Oswego lead to 12 just before the end of the second quarter, thanks to a catch and run of 67-yards. Fomby would connect again with Senior quarterback Levi Olson at the beginning of the third quarter, while Coleman would also score again to put the game out of reach at 25-0 as the game enter the final period of play.
“This was a good bounce back especially after last week, which was not the best week for our offense,” Cooney commented. “I told our guys that I was impressed with the way and the manner that they came out with, it looked like Panther football. On our first series, even though we didn’t score, we knew we were back to playing Oswego football. Against what was really a tough and physical defense.”
While the offense produced a fine performance against the Tigers, it was the defense that was ultra-impressive.
Against an athletic and explosive Joliet West offensive unit, the Panthers time and again came up with big plays to keep the Tigers off of the scoreboard.
It wasn’t until the second unit was in the game, with just one minute to play, that Tiger quarterback Jaxon Aubry was able to connect with Colt Dolak, for Joliet West’s only score on the night.
“They (Joliet) scored on the last series of the game, but you know you really can’t complain about anything the defense did tonight,” Cooney praised. “Our game plan coming out was just to play our sound base defense. We’ve got the athletes to match with theirs, we can’t always say that, but we were able to line up some guys in man coverage across the board with their guys. We kind of got away from our structure in weeks one and two, so we just put our prime emphasis on getting back to the fundamentals.”
With the recent history and budding rivalry between the Tigers and the Panthers, a win in a game like this can really do wonders for the team able to come out of the fight with their hand raised. For the second time in as many meetings, it was Oswego who enjoyed the thrill of victory. With the season still in the opening third of the year, the Panthers hope to use this emotional win as a catalyst for the final six games of the season.
“We put a lot of stress this week on rising up,” Cooney said. “We really wanted to see how we were going to respond after a difficult loss against a good team, but a good team that we can compete with and beat. So the question was, how are we going to respond? Now we have to see after this week, how the kids prepare and respond for Plainfield East. We gave them the day off on Saturday, which they seemed to like, so hopefully they will come back with some juice and ready to compete.”
West (1-2) will look for bounce back and get their season on track next Saturday when it hosts Romeoville (0-3).