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Gang's All Here for Oak Park in a 24-14 Victory

High school football: At full strength after suspensions, Eagles rally past Nordhoff.

October 07, 2000|MITCH POLIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

OAK PARK — The Oak Park High football team might have been a mystery to opponents before this game.

Rest assured the Eagles are not anymore.

Playing with its full squad and coaching staff for the first time this season, Oak Park responded by coming from behind for a 24-14 victory Friday night over Nordhoff at Oak Park.

Even though 18 players were suspended for two of the first four games for drinking alcohol at a summer passing league tournament in July, the Eagles won three of the games.

"I'm really excited with what took place [Friday night] because we finally have everybody back from suspension," said Coach Dick Billingsley, who was suspended for the first four games as a result of the incident.

Running back Eric Testan led a 14-point comeback by the Eagles (4-1) in the fourth quarter.

Oak Park was trailing, 14-10, early in the fourth quarter when Testan broke loose for an 83-yard touchdown run.

Testan, who entered the game with 223 yards rushing, finished with a career-high 250 yards and two touchdowns in 27 carries.

"The press has really been down on him because of his stats, but what they don't realize is we had a different team out there the last four games," Billingsley said.

The Eagles seemed to recapture momentum after Testan's run.

Nordhoff (3-2), which reached the Division VII championship game last season and is ranked No. 5 in the division, hurt itself with crucial mistakes.

After Ranger quarterback Trevor Weedon was stopped at his 31-yard line on a fake punt, Oak Park put the game away on its ensuing possession.

Josh Walker threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Chad Kessler for a 24-14 lead midway through the quarter.

With the suspended players back, Testan said there is no telling how good the Eagles can play.

"I think we can do some good things now," he said. "We showed a lot of heart [Friday night]. We had a lot of crazy stuff happen, but it's all behind us now."

The Eagles finished with 374 yards and held usually potent Nordhoff to 185 yards.

Nick Kaiser rushed for 97 yards in 18 carries for Nordhoff.

The Eagles took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter on Testan's nine-yard touchdown run and Monte McNair's 25-yard field goal.

Nordhoff scored eight points in the final two minutes to make it 10-8 at the half. Jordan Hawkins blocked McNair's punt out of the end zone for a safety and Trevor Weedon connected with Joash Rothermel on a 50-yard touchdown pass play.

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