South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Return of Oakville and Mehlville football leads to a 24-21 thriller, Panthers victory

Photo by Belma Mujakic
Above, Oakville wide receiver Tyler Lanzarini tries to elude a tackle from a Panther.

Local high school football fans deprived of a regularly scheduled season have been patiently waiting for a return to normalcy, and they finally received it last week as Oakville hosted rival Mehlville.

Mehlville (1-0) was strong on the ground and racked up 229 yards rushing in a 24-21 thriller over the Tigers (0-1). Oakville next hosts Marquette Friday, Oct. 16, while Mehlville hosts Eureka. Both games start at 7 p.m. Crowds are limited due to COVID-19.

The Mehlville-Oakville game had originally been slated to take place in Pacific due to St. Louis County restrictions on youth sports, but those restrictions were lifted and the game was returned to Oakville High School, its original location. It also served as the OHS Senior Night — the first time the first game of the season has been Senior Night.

“We went through so many difficult emotional roller coasters as things changed day to day,” Mehlville head coach Kent Heinemann said about the confusion of whether a season would even happen this fall. “The kids didn’t complain too much, and then at the last minute the administration said that we could play at Oakville and it was a great Friday night for everyone.”

Oakville head coach Mike Genge, who is kicking off his first season at the helm of the Tigers, echoed similar sentiments on his team’s ability to stay focused despite not knowing when or if they would be able to play.

“This group has been incredibly dedicated, and it all started over the summer when they came in and just worked hard in the weight room,” Genge said. “We stayed fresh and mentally focused, and our seniors came in and have really done well leading this young program.”

The Panthers took a 7-0 lead with 3:19 to play in the first quarter as quarterback Izayah Hannam-Lewis hammered in a 1-yard touchdown run via a quarterback sneak and Genti Dullovi scored the extra point.

“Izayah was probably one of our best defensive linemen last year and was also our backup quarterback,” Heinemann said. “He’s jumped in and done a great job running the offense, and on that play he just drove his legs and got over the goal line.”

Mehlville extended its lead to 10-0 as Dullovi nailed a 29-yard field goal with 6:09 to play in the second quarter. Dullovi was a surprise addition to the squad after playing select soccer in previous years.

“Genti’s never played football before,” Heinemann said. “He showed up this summer, and holy cow he’s got a good leg. He comes in calm and collected and just punched it through.”

Oakville responded with a 90-yard kickoff return by Jacobi Woods with 5:53 to play in the second quarter to bring the score to 10-6 after a missed extra point.

Above, Mehlville’s Eric Ohmer (No. 2) scores the winning touchdown with less than two minutes to go in Friday night’s game, flanked by Dino Pajazetovic (No. 33) of Oakville. (Photo by Belma Mujakic)

“Jacobi did a really nice job at quarterback and kept us alive and the offense plugging away on several drives,” Genge said. “The kickoff return that he had was just phenomenal.”

The Tigers took a 14-10 lead with 4:33 to play in the first half as Woods connected with Tyler Lanzarini on a 29-yard touchdown pass as Kamerin McCalip scored the two-point conversion.

“Lanzarini is a good receiver that we try to match up with and take advantage of his height,” Genge said. “He just goes out there and beats the tar out of the other team’s defensive backs.”

Mehlville responded with a 49-yard touchdown run by Eric Ohmer with 1:47 to play in the third quarter to give the Panthers a 17-14 lead.

“Eric is a guy that really never leaves the field because he plays on both sides of the ball,” Heinemann said. “He’s super tough and a smart competitor that’s fast and hits the hole hard. He showed up huge for us on Friday.”

Oakville’s Kamerin McCalip appeared to have sealed a 21-17 win for the Tigers as he scored on a four-yard touchdown run with 59 seconds to play in the game with Alex Winter getting the extra point.

“He’s not a big kid, but he’s a tough runner and he’s very smooth like water because he weaves his way through defenders,” Genge said. “We’re hoping to get him the ball a lot more in upcoming games.”

But it was Ohmer who would steal the show for the Panthers with a 16-yard touchdown run with 45 seconds to play in the game as Dullovi notched the extra point for the 24-21 win.

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