O'Hara big show helps Meadows roll
In a span of less than six minutes, Jace O'Hara put together more must-see highlight film than many players might produce in a career.
The Rolling Meadows senior scored back-to-back touchdowns with dazzling 86- and 91-yard jaunts to give his team a 14-0 lead with 11:05 left in the second quarter.
And four minutes later, his interception set up another Mustangs' touchdown in a 43-7 triumph over visiting Glenbrook South on Friday night.
"I missed that interception," said Meadows coach Matt Mishler following the opening game of the season. "I was over talking to the offense. All I know is that we got the ball back. I heard it was a heck of a play. I'll see it on film."
The film will also show that O'Hara used his offensive line to perfection en route to racking up 196 yards in just three carries.
"It was just great, great, great blocks my lineman," said O'Hara referring to senior Andrew Baroota, senior John Carlstrom, senior Josh De Luca, senior Joe Boyer and junior Tommy Schell. "It was easy for me to cut and see things in front of me. I broke a couple of tackles but I've got to give all the credit to my linemen."
"Jace is a phenomenal athlete," Boyer said. "He makes the offensive line look better. He was running inside and outside. He just made great reads."
Senior running back Tim Szylak proceeded to take advantage of the offensive line, ripping off three straight touchdown runs of 1, 6 and 6 yards to boost the Mustangs' lead to 35-0 at half.
All along, Meadows' defense was stellar.
So much so, that Mishler decided to try for a first down when his team faced fourth and nine near mid field on its first possession.
"Our thought our defense was lights out on that first series which kind of influenced me to go for it but it was kind of an awful call," Mishler said. "But we held them (thanks to an interception by Nife Oseni which he caught inside the 15 and returned to the Mustangs' 28). That was a huge hold after that horrible call on my part. Our defense held them there and then our offense kind of hit the gas."
The Mustangs triggered the running clock with 6:21 left in the third quarter. That's when senior quarterback Arek Kleniuk competed a 69-yard drive with a 6-yard keeper around left end.
"We talked to them about the importance of coming out strong after half," Mishler said "We stressed not having any letdowns and making sure you play hard to the finish. We want them to learn how to stay hungry throughout the games and not just at the beginning."
The defense limited the Titans to 104 yards rushing before Zack Herndon's 56- yard touchdown run made it 43-6 with 3:51 left in the game.
The visitors completed only 1 pass for 11 yards.
"Before the game we said the front seven had to go hard," said junior defensive lineman Nate Pedraza, who was a prominent tackler all night. "There could be no hesitation. We just had to go all out all the way".
"It's always great to win your first game at home," Boyer added. "Winning the first game just establishes your season and sets it up for better things to come."
Mishler admitted he and his staff would find 'plenty of stuff' that the Mustangs did wrong.
"There's no doubt about that," he said. "But we did a lot right tonight. And I'm super proud of our guys' effort.
"We know those guys who scored are special but I was equally impressed with our offensive linemen and how they executed. We don't get anywhere without the holes they create. Our running backs are going to get some yards on their own but they had some help out there tonight. If we can keep up the energy and passion we showed tonight, that will be good."