PLAINFIELD – The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but even if it did, Evan Brown would probably recover it.
The Oswego senior linebacker pounced on three fumbles in the first half as the Panthers blasted West Aurora 46-0 in Friday’s Southwest Prairie West game, which was played at Plainfield North.
“Three was pretty surprising,” Brown said, “but my guys got it done up front and any time there’s a ball at my feet, I’m obviously going to jump on it, and I’ll take it. So it was kind of a right place, right time kind of thing.”
Brown has a nose for the ball and he undoubtedly got it from his father, Craig, who played for the Panthers and once had five interceptions in a game in 1987 against St. Francis.
“He’s always by the ball,” Oswego coach Brian Cooney said. “I know he’s getting tired, well, I don’t know if he’s getting tired, he wouldn’t tell me if he was, but the other kids are probably getting tired of me using Evan Brown as an example, but it’s paying off. We’ve got some guys on defense just absolutely flying to the ball.”
Brown’s one of them.
“He was fired up on this field last week against Plainfield North and continues to get better every week,” Cooney said. “He’s extremely smart, like a 4.5 on 4 scale. He’s a very bright young man, but he’s also football smart, and he’s a technician with what he does. And you couple that with the way he plays the game, much like his dad. He’s got a non-stop motor that just does not quit.”
West Aurora (1-2, 0-2) could only generate 16 yards of total offense in the first half as the Panthers built a 25-0 lead at halftime with junior quarterback Julian Toma guiding the offense in place of Cole Pradel, who sat out with an injury.
“The turf monster got (Pradel’s knee twisted) last week,” Cooney said. “We were being precautious. We’ve got two quarterbacks that we think could’ve handled the job tonight as well. We were cautious and told Cole to take it easy.”
His Oswego (3-0, 2-0) teammates certainly made it look easy.
Jacob Sergen scored twice on 1-yard runs to give the Panthers a 13-0 lead after one quarter.
Toma found sophomore Deakon Tonielli for a 56-yard touchdown for the Panthers’ third score of the game, while Cruz Ibarra would connect with Tonielli for a 24-yard touchdown early in the third quarter, as the 6-foot-5 wide receiver continues to impress.
“That kid is a big target,” Cooney said. “We’ve got a running back by committee and those guys were carouseling themselves through and got some good touches.”
That included juniors Mark Melton, Iyron Young and Tyler Weddington. Melton had a five-yard touchdown run late in the first half to push the Panthers lead to 25-0. Young and Weddington both broke off 29-yard touchdown runs in the second half.
Meanwhile, the defense completely shut down the Blackhawks.
“Anthony Cikauskas and Matt Egly at (defensive) ends were just absolute forces last year and are continuing to do that this year,” Brown said. “Then, the interior guys have stepped up. There was a lot of competition in the summer and they’ve worked their tails off to have gotten to where they are right now.”