East’s varsity football team traveled to Minooka Community High School on September 30, looking to bring home a win against the 4-1 Minooka Indians. Both teams entered the stadium looking to come away with their fifth win of the season, but the Wolves fell short, losing by only three points, 13-16.
The Wolves came out strong in the first drive of the game, with several first downs being either thrown or rushed by senior quarterback Robert Jones III. The Wolves traveled down the field, making it to the Indians’ 16 yard line, until a sack caused Jones to lose control of the ball, the fumble being recovered by the Indians.
This mistake led to Minooka throwing the ball for a 55-yard touchdown in the following drive, from third and 22.
The Wolves got the ball back in the second quarter but Jones threw an interception with 11 minutes left in the half.
Jones took the blame for some of these first half struggles.
“Really just early mistakes, on my part,” Jones said. “Offense was clicking really good, it was just a few physical mistakes on my end.”
Following the turnover, the Wolves’ defense held the Indians to just a field goal, but the Wolves had yet to score going into the half, 0-10
The Indians got possession after the half, but were forced to punt. The Wolves’ third quarter performance matched their first half, with no points scored by either team going into the final quarter of play.
In the fourth quarter, however, the Wolves offense came to play. A couple of field goals set the Wolves back another six points, but a touchdown was scored with eight minutes left in the game, and the Wolves chose to try for a two-point conversion, but missed.
The Wolves continued to pursue the comeback, with another rushing touchdown scored in the final five minutes of the game.
With a few seconds left, the Wolves were just a first down away from being within field goal range to tie the game, with senior kicker Owen Valek on standby to obtain those precious three points.
Valek admits that a situation like this can be stressful, being so close to tying up the game.
“It’s pretty nerve-racking, but you know, I’m kind of trained to deal with that scenario, so I really just need to come out here and do my job,” Valek said.
An incomplete pass by Jones led to a turnover on downs with just four seconds still remaining. The Wolves lost to the Indians 13-16.
Senior cornerback Michael Parrott noted how the Wolves were in the game until the end.
“Defensively we never gave up, despite being down in the first half,” Parrott said. “We were staying up and not letting the offense get down on themselves.”
This refusal to back down allows for the Wolves to continue to improve throughout the season, with head coach Tyson LeBlanc noting exactly what his plans are to avoid taking additional losses.
“We have got to stop turning the ball over offensively, and create some more turnovers defensively,” LeBlanc said. “We are going to work ball security at practice … and do what we need to do to create those turnovers.”
The Wolves will be looking to see some improvement as they face the Yorkville High School Foxes this Friday at home.
Jackson Wezeman is a staff editor for Oswego East’s online news magazine The Howl