2016 was a year of surprise success. 9-0 regular season and a second round playoff exit led to many believing 2017 would be the year. Day one of 2017 summer camp was the beginning.
Western Illinois commit Josh Shodipo stated “The start actually began the day after the loss to Edwardsville in the playoffs” though not officially beginning, players held each other accountable. “We started working together in the weight room that Monday ” said Quarterback Levi Olson.
Then week one was at the helm. Game one starting the road to state and it was at home against long time rival Minooka. Big crowd, lots of emotion, and the Panthers rolled to a 31-13 win. A rough week two 12-7 loss left many people already doubting the panthers winning their seventh straight conference title.
But with three straight wins and Plainfield North losing twice, the Panthers found themselves tied for the conference lead, and who were they tied with? Undefeated, crosstown rival, Oswego East.
The Panthers won 13-0 and now owned first place in the conference with a 5-1 record. They cruised through their final three games and finished the regular season 8-1. The Panthers won their seventh straight conference title.
Captain Nate Ricken when asked stated “Now the real season begins, this is where it counts” the playoffs were here.
They were matched up against the number one offense and 24th seeded Naperville North. The panthers, ranked ninth, held North to just 14 points, they won 28-14.
Two words; Glenbard West.
An Illinois 8A powerhouse. Glenbard crawled back to take a 20-17 lead, but the panthers were resilient as they took a 24-20 lead, and the defense secured the win.
The next obstacle was by far their toughest, like nothing they had ever seen before, they were up against the number one team in the state, Lincoln Way East.
This time however, the Panthers were unable to overcome the adversity they faced, they lost 31-0.
The Oswego Panthers finished with a 11-2 record and Iowa commit Noah Shannon earned all state honors. Shannon as well as many teammates earned all conference honors.