Chaparrals Struggle in Red zone early but Explode Late


Carlos Peterson, Sports Editor

After a month away from Glen Ellyn, the Chaparral football team returned home for a matchup against the Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks. Coming into the game with a record of 4-2, it was crucial for the Chaps to get the win. It almost didn’t happen.

The team started off early with an interception by defensive back Caleb Newman to set up the offense for a quick strike situation. Running back Chris Baldwin was carrying the ball nicely on the Chaparral drive after the first turnover of the game. The offense moved the ball diligently into field goal range. Quarterback Asher O’Hara utilized his mobility to make the Warhawk defense pay. The Chaps would settle for a field goal attempt that was missed slightly to the left by kicker Kyle Obsuszt. The game’s momentum hung in the balance, the defense would need to step up in a big way.

The defense as it has all season continued to frustrate the opposition’s offense. They opened the second quarter by forcing the Warhawk’s into a three-and-out situation. On the ensuing Chaparral drive, it came down to a fourth and short only to be undermined by a killer false start penalty. Head Coach Matt Foster would’ve liked to see a cleaner game but he understood the circumstances.

“That’s part of the game. We don’t want to put ourselves in that position. We’re better at executing than that.”

The Chaps would be forced to punt after struggling to piece together a drive without mistakes. Whitewater struggled against the physical DuPage front, being stopped for minimal gains in their run game. It seemed like an average punting situation. However, in the most literal sense of the term, Whitewater got the lucky bounces for a 79 yard punt, downing the Chaps at their own 4 yard line.

Forced to punt once again after getting the ball out of the shadow of their own end zone, Chaparral punter Chase Bruns got a bad piece of the ball for a short kick, setting up the Warhawk offense in plus territory. Another stout defensive performance by the Chaps this drive had the Whitewater offense facing a 4th and long. The Whitewater quarterback threw an incompletion in the end zone and the Chaps were all set to get the ball back. But a costly flag was thrown for a roughing the passer penalty to keep the Whitewater drive alive.

The Warhawk’s quarterback then threw a touchdown pass to put them up 7-0. Foster was impressed with the performance early of the Warhawks.

“Whitewater deserves credit,” Foster said. “They did a really good job with some of the things they were doing. We just need to do a better job of executing.”

After another defensive stop following a turnover, the Chaparral offense went on the attack. Quarterback Asher O’Hara threw a beautiful pass along the sideline to receiver Keith Dixon to set them up around midfield. A couple of O’Hara runs set up the offense for him to throw a back shoulder fade to Dixon in the end zone to tie the game up at seven. Both teams would go into the half with things to work on.

The second half opened with a field goal for the Chaparrals, and it looked like the offense was headed in the right direction. Another solid drive was spoiled by another missed field goal and the score remained 10-7 with DuPage ahead. Even though the points weren’t there to show it, the offense was starting to assert itself.

Led by the quarterback O’Hara settling in and getting comfortable they were able to tack on another field goal. A spectacular touchdown followed with O’Hara throwing to Keith Dixon once again for a 36-yard score to give them a two possession lead over Wisconsin-Whitewater.

The lead looked comfortable for the Chaparrals after another turnover created by the defense. Running back Jordan Benavides ran in for a two-yard score to put the Chaps up 28-7.

Coach Foster felt comfortable putting in backup Quarterback Harlan Mitchell to finish it off. It was almost a game-changing mistake.

The Warhawks would score to make the score 28-14 late, but the game looked to be in hand. On the first play of the next drive Harlan threw an out route that was picked by a Whitewater linebacker who ran it all the way back to put them within a touchdown of the Chaps.

Luckily, O’Hara was able to re-enter the game to settle the offense down and run down the clock for a 28-21 win for the Chaparrals.

The win wasn’t perfect, but the team was able to show a complete performance, picking one another up in all phases of the game. Quarterback Asher O’Hara in particular stood out in his ability to keep the offense on track with savvy plays despite struggles early in the game.

“He’s been getting better every game,” Foster said. “He’s a dynamite kid. Only being a true freshman, he’s done a really nice job.”

Raising their record to 5-2 with the win, the Chaps look to improve in their next game against Lackawanna on Oct. 28 after their bye this upcoming week.