Editor’s Note, 10/6: The original version of this article stated that this was Oswego’s first homecoming game in two years; however, because the game was rained out in 2019, this was their first homecoming game in three years. This information has been updated.
The Oswego Panthers (1-2) sealed a victory over the Minooka Indians (2-2) this past Friday in a high-intensity game under the lights. The stakes were even higher, because this was the first homecoming game that Oswego High School had participated in three years—in 2019, the game was rained out, and in 2020, the game was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The OHS football team is generally known to have a good win record, but as any sports team understands, COVID-19 can quite literally change the game.
However, the turnout at the game was as if the pandemic had never happened—the stands were packed on both sides, and students of all ages were cheering on their favorite team.
The first quarter started out in Oswego’s favor, with the Panthers immediately scoring a touchdown in the first down. Senior quarterback Mark Melton, who was responsible for the majority of the touchdowns scored in Saturday’s game, didn’t want to take all the credit.
“I honestly don’t see myself as top-tier. I see all of us top-tier,” Melton said. “We work as one, and we form one great team.”
This “one great team” mentality carried through the rest of the game, even through a second-quarter penalty against the Panthers. The team continued to push through and fight to continue its lead.
Not all was saved—in the third quarter, the Indians scored seven points of their own, taking the lead from the Panthers with a score of 12-14, but the Panthers seized the lead again with yet another touchdown. A total of four Panther touchdowns were scored on Saturday.
“Since the coronavirus…all my seniors last year didn’t get the season they deserved,” Melton said. “They’re actually here tonight, and I wanted to put a little show on for them.”
As many sports teams do, the OHS football team appears to have a strong family mentality. All along the sidelines during plays, the players could be seen encouraging each other, clapping each other on the back, and hugging.
Coach John Huginin, who teaches in the science department, had some positive things to say about how his boys played today. He mentioned that there would always be things to adjust in football, but was overall very proud of them.
“I thought they played hard…the fact that we’re playing here is a good sign,” he said.
It’s clear to see that everyone in the stadium on Friday felt the same way—especially after two rough years of no homecoming game.
Tonight, the Panthers face Plainfield North at Ken Pickerill Stadium at 7 p.m.