By STEPHEN GLOVER
For the Call
Going into the district playoffs, the Oakville Senior High football team hoped to tally its second victory of the season against Northwest last Friday.
What the Tigers (1-7, 1-5 Suburban West) did not expect was a muddy field and a solid Northwest running attack in a close 28-21 loss to the Lions.
“I think what happened Friday night was that we played on a muddy field and Northwest had a size advantage at the line of scrimmage,” Oakville head coach Steve Fanara told the Call. “I’ve got to take my hat off to them (Northwest) because they modified their offense to a Power-Iiand just beat us at the line.”
The Tigers took a 7-0 lead with 5:14 left in the first quarter when sophomore quarterback Cody Terry connected with senior wide receiver Alonzo Medcalf on a 31-yard pass. The touchdown was Medcalf’s first of the season.
“Cody had rolled to his right and found Alonzo open,” Fanara said. “As soon as he (Medcalf) got the ball, he was in man-to-man coverage. Alonzo was extremely excited about that touchdown.”
The Lions responded late in the second quarter on a 35-yard run by senior running back Andy Zangaro with 5:17 left in the first half of action. Zangaro scored again for the Lions on a 31-yard reception from senior quarterback Kevin Bechaud with 46 seconds left in the first half.
Northwest extended its lead to 21-7 at 4:11 in the third quarter as junior wide receiver Shawn Michael Stanley hauled in a nine-yard pass from Bechaud.
The Lions had scored 21 unanswered points before the Tigers clawed back on junior wide receiver Brandon Dillard’s 92-yard kickoff return with 3:58 left in the third quarter .
“The players were really excited,” Fanara said. “It emotionally gave us a lift and gave us a boost of confidence. Unfortunately the defensive kids had to go right back out on the field again.”
Northwest took a commanding 28-14 lead with three ticks left in the third quarter as Zangaro notched his third touchdown of the game, cutting through the Tiger defense for a 45-yard run.
But the Tigers were not finished as the defensive unit kept Northwest scoreless in the fourth quarter, shutting down the last three drives of the game by the Lions.
“The defense stopped their last three drives and gave us an opportunity late in the game to tie it up,” Fanara said.
“The kids are frustrated and I know that the coaches are too,” he added.
Junior linebacker Mike Kawelaske lead the Tigers with 17 tackles and currentlyihas 30 tackles this season.
“Mike’s a fire plug,” Fanara said. “He’s got pretty good instincts and gets in on about every play.”
The Tigers trimmed Northwest’s lead to 28-21 with 10:02 left in the fourth quarter as Terry scored on a seven-yard quarterback draw. He finished 9-19 for 165 yards and one touchdown.
“He (Terry) is making better decisions and is throwing the ball pretty accurately,” Terry said. “The offense really responds to him and he really takes charge during the game.”
Oakville has its biggest game of the season on Friday night against district-rival Mehlville.
The game represents bragging rights between the two sister schools.
“I keep telling the kids that Mehlville’s not going to feel sorry for us,” Fanara said. “So we can’t go walking around and feeling sorry for ourselves.”
The Panthers feature a solid quarterback threat in senior Ronald Roberts, who is 42-85 for 791 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.
Mehlville also has a potent running game in junior Jeremy Doss and senior Tommy Gayfield. The two running backs have combined for 1,278 yards this season and 13 touchdowns.