BIG BEAR — Oak Park High received a stinging reminder Saturday of what its football fortunes were like not so long ago. The Eagles handicapped themselves with six turnovers en route to a 28-14 first-round Inland Conference playoff loss to Big Bear before about 300 spectators at Big Bear Middle School.
Oak Park, which suffered through an 0-9-1 season in 1986 but rebounded to a 7-4 mark this season, committed four fumbles and two interceptions. Big Bear converted two of the turnovers into touchdowns.
"We played our absolute worst game," Oak Park first-year Coach Ron Veres said.
The Eagles failed to utilize the rushing abilities of their top halfback, Jason Stein, who was held to 33 yards in six carries.
"They were defensing Stein well so we went to our counters and other things," Veres said.
Big Bear Coach Mike Clifton acknowledged that his team paid close attention to Stein, who rushed for 864 yards and 10 touchdowns in 143 carries this season.
"Our kids paid attention to what we tried to coach them," Clifton said. "The first thing we had to do was we had to take away Stein. And they took him out on their own. Then we used some special defenses we put in just this week."
Stein still provided the Eagles with their only points--he was on the receiving end of second-half touchdown passes of 60 and 71 yards from quarterback Chris Hall.
Hall completed 11 of 20 passes for 236 yards, but had two interceptions. A pickoff by linebacker Josh Piestrup led to a 12-yard scoring pass from Big Bear quarterback Mike Bonetto to Cassidy O'Sullivan midway through the third quarter.
Big Bear (10-1) took a quick two-touchdown lead by scoring on its first two possessions. Bonetto completed a 13-yard pass to Tim VonAh to cap the opening drive of the game.
Bonetto stretched the lead to 14-0 with a 12-yard run after Danny Felice recovered a Stein fumble.
Bonetto completed 9 of 12 passes for 119 yards and was not intercepted. He added an additional 65 yards in 10 carries.
Felice led the Bears with 86 yards in 21 carries and had two fumble recoveries. Steve Johnston had 47 yards in eight carries, including a 15-yard touchdown run for Big Bear's final score.