Oshobi Odior last spring scored the touchdown that finally gave Oswego East the upper hand in the 16-year history of the crosstown rivalry.
“That was a rush for me,” Odior said. “Amazing.”
His biggest impact in this week’s latest edition of the rivalry, though, could come on the other side of the ball.
Odior, who played almost exclusively running back as a sophomore on varsity in the spring, was inserted at middle linebacker in Week 3 this season. The 6-foot-2, 238-pound junior appears to have taken to it. Odior had 16 tackles, three of them for loss, in last Friday’s 14-7 win over Yorkville.
He’ll surely be in the center of the action this Friday when the Wolves travel to Oswego for the 17th edition of the crosstown rivalry.
Oswego East beat Oswego 14-7 in the spring on Oshobi’s 5-yard touchdown run in the final minutes. But he doesn’t think that result changes the dynamic this week.
“Personally I feel like the pressure is on them,” he said. “We won last season for the first time in 16 years, but I still think the pressure is on them. Either way we have to keep our heads on straight this week.”
Prior to this season, Odior last played significant minutes at linebacker on the Naperville Patriots youth football team. But he said Oswego East coach Tyson LeBlanc told him in the offseason that Odior would most likely make it at the next level on the defensive side of the ball.
And he’s indeed heard more on the recruiting front as a defensive player. Odior got reps on defense at camps during the summer.
It’s just fine with him.
“Since I’m as big as I am, I thought I can probably do linebacker or maybe even defensive end. There was no complaining at all about it,” Odior said. “Being on defense, being able to hit people, it’s amazing. I love the feeling I get making a big tackle. I get hyped.”
Odior got that feeling plenty last week, when he racked up 16 tackles against Yorkville. For good measure, he also had seven carries offensively for 41 yards and a touchdown as the Wolves bounced back from their first loss against Minooka.
“I was just in my mind mad about what happened the week before, mad and upset that we lost. We had to come back and find redemption,” Odior said. “I felt like I was able to get around their run blocking and penetrate their offense well. Our defense line really opened up gaps and was allowing me to get through to the linebacker. That’s how I was able to get all those tackles.”
Odior still gets plenty of touches offensively, with the Oswego East coaches making sure he gets ample breathers and water breaks while playing both ways. The biggest adjustment, perhaps, is on the mental side.
“Just learning our defense,” Odior said. “I haven’t been on our defense really at all throughout my high school career. I had to go through the playbook, go and read the gaps how I did when I was younger. I had to read and acclimate to the defensive side and be a leader.”
Deakon Tonielli pinch hits at QB:
Oswego’s Deakon Tonielli, a 6-foot-6 major Division I prospect at tight end, played a role reversal last Friday.
With quarterbacks Cruz Ibarra and Julian Toma both unable to go, Tonielli played quarterback for the first time since the eighth grade. He threw five times, completing three of the passes, in Oswego’s 26-7 win over West Aurora.
“I was kind of excited,” Tonielli said. “I love playing quarterback, and haven’t played it in a while. It was definitely strange at first, but I got comfortable and was able to do it.”
Oswego is expected to have both of its usual quarterbacks back this week, welcome news to Panthers’ coach Brian Cooney. He learned last Tuesday, three days before the game, that he’d be without both guys.
“Considering the situation, we learned about it literally as we were walking out to practice Tuesday, I was extremely proud of all of our guys and how they handled it. That would include Deakon and all phases of the team,” Cooney said. “Without a pretty important position, everybody did their part.”
Oswego, which at times has had difficulties establishing the run this season, went back to its roots while short-handed. Mark Melton ran for 171 yards on 28 carries and Oswego had possession for almost 33 minutes of the game.
“You learn more about yourself as a football team in situations like that. We learned that we can line up and straight up run the football,” Cooney said. “That kind of ground and pound wears on teams. Recently we’ve been throwing the ball more but if we have to resort to it we have shown that we can do it if we need to.”
Plano shows progress in defeat
Plano’s 21-20 loss to Marengo was a disappointing finish, but Rick Ponx’s Reapers continued to show progress in their third consecutive one-score game on the field.
“We wanted to see if we could consistently play four quarters of football and I think we proved that we can,” Ponx said. “We’re still learning about ourselves. In the past we would fold. We didn’t fold.”
Indeed, in a back-and-forth game that was tied 14-14 at half Marengo took a 21-14 lead with 6:50 left in the third quarter. Plano (5-2) came back with a Ray Jones 1-yard TD run with 7:45 left in the game – but the extra point was blocked. The Reapers earlier had an 80-yard Waleed Johnson TD run called back on a penalty.
On the bright side, Jones went over 100 yards for the fifth straight time this season, 134 yards on 17 carries with two TDs.
“Impressed with how Ray runs and how the O-line is blocking. He’s become our go-to guy,” Ponx said. “It’s a steppingstone to growing as a program. The first year we’d be blown out. Last year we were in games. Now not only are we winning some of them but we’ve lost two games by eight points. We weren’t saying that a year ago.”
How Plano gets to the next step, Ponx said, is no secret.
“The thing I told our team is you win those games in June, July and August,” he said. “There’s a lot to be said about the confidence you develop over the summer, to know you put in the work. That’s really the next big jump for this program is to maximize our summer and weight room time.”
This and that
Yorkville (4-3) has two opportunities left to get its fifth win to become playoff eligible – but four wins might be enough. Shaw Media’s Steve Soucie currently has the Foxes as one of the last teams in the Class 7A bracket… Sandwich’s Seven Tornga enjoyed a stellar game last Friday in a loss to Harvard. The Indians’ junior ran for 153 yards on 24 carries with two TDs and also caught a 17-yard TD pass.
Source: The Daily Chronicle