On Friday, October 15th, the varsity Wolves lost their annual Crosstown Challenge game against the Panthers with a final score of 38-14.
Going into this year’s Challenge, the Wolves knew that they had something to prove, as they brought home the trophy last year after a 15-year drought.
Junior running back Oshobi Odior caught one of the two touchdowns that assured the Wolves’ win during last season’s game.
“It was really crazy winning that game last year,” junior running back Oshobi Odior said. “It was a really fun night, but it definitely set a standard for us to meet this year.”
The varsity team had managed to maintain a 6-1 record going into Friday night’s game, losing only to Minooka over the course of what has proven to be a successful season.
“Practice is probably more important than some games,” junior Grant Vievesis added. “We really get to learn from mistakes we’ve made or even wins we’ve had. It’s a very long and tedious process, but it makes it worthwhile when we win.”
The Crosstown trophy is a coveted award within the two high schools and even the community itself that rallies around the famous event. But for the players themselves, the possibility of a win means more than a title.
“I’m not going to sugar coat it, this is probably our most important game of the season, besides any playoff games we play,” junior lineman Orlando Woodhouse. “It means so much to me and the team, and our mission is to win the game regardless of our opponent, but this game has that little extra special touch.”
According to Woodhouse, the team operates more like a brotherhood and would need that support of family going into Friday night’s game.
“We love each other like brothers,” Woodhouse added. “We just keep each other in check. Make sure we do the small things to keep our minds right and prepared for whatever comes our way.”
That night, the Wolves had major defensive struggles, as well as a hard time keeping up with the strengths of Oswego’s defensive line.
However, the Wolves proved they could hold their own against a dominant Panthers defense, with junior quarterback Robert Jones III passing to senior receiever Ty Carlson for a long touchdown in the second quarter.
“When the ball left my hand I had a feeling of where it was going,” Jones added. “I have faith in [Carlson]’s ability to run it back to the end zone. He did the rest and then we scored. I was really proud of us in that moment.”
The Wolves limped into the second half with a chip on their shoulder, down 24-7. The team struggled to regain traction after being pushed back by the Panthers defense.
The Wolves ended up putting another touchdown onto the scoreboard before the second half ended, but their attempts were no match for the Panther offense, who put up another two touchdowns in the second half.
“Even though [senior running back Darquel Sanders] had an injury during such an integral time in the game, it was really nice to see him support his teammates,” senior team manager Amal Dannoura said. “It was also great to see our guys step up when the coach needed a replacement for him. It definitely showed how prepared this team is.”
By the end of the game, the Panthers proved that they were prepared to take back their Crosstown champion title, but the Wolves did not walk away winless.
“We’ll go back to the film room, to the practice field, and back to our home stadium,” Vievesis said. “Loss is only temporary, and I have a feeling we’ll be back for more next year.”
The Wolves play this Friday, at their last home game of the regular season, against Plainfield North at 7 p.m.
Kelsey Gara is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl