Will Osuma is pushing his gridiron play to a high level

Will Osuma

By Colten Steele

Southwestern conference junior standout running back, Will Osuma, has already earned his right to be one of the most dangerous weapons on the O’Fallon Panthers’ offense this year. Osuma is a junior this season, but when he says he’s a junior, he also adds that he is only 15 years old.

“I’ve never felt at a disadvantage because I feel like I play at a high enough level to excel against the older competition,” Osuma said.

And playing at a high level is something Osuma is already doing. He currently leads the Panthers in rushing yards this season with 131 yards on 42 attempts, and is already off to a hot start for OTHS this season. Last year he led the Panthers in rushing yards (368) on just 87 attempts. He’s now setup to break his personal record for last year, just after two games.

“Over the summer I’ve been preparing to be in this position which has allowed me to become more comfortable on the field,” Osuma said. “Last year I felt more timid on the field and wasn’t hitting the right reads, but it has become easier this season.”

The Panthers aren’t off to one of their best starts to the season, but Osuma is confident in the team he is leading every Friday night.

“The tough losses are always disappointing, but we did a decent job running the ball against Belleville West last week,” Osuma said. “If we can continue to have more positive areas on the offense, we can translate that into more wins.”

There is more to football for Osuma rather than just winning games. He likes to at least have some fun while he’s doing it.

“I’ve been playing since a young age and it always came naturally to me. I also enjoy being able to build relationships with my teammates,” he said.

Osuma isn’t only a leader under the lights, as he is also involved in the classroom as well. Will is on the Leadership Council while trying to balance his academics and football throughout the year. As academics always come first for Osuma, he plans to continue his academic career when his high school career is over.

And plans to continue his career in one of the most sought-after professions in the medical field.

“There isn’t any plans set in stone but I would like to study in the medical field in order to become an Orthopedic Surgeon,” he said.

Students rally to support teams at Blue & Gold Scrimmage

The student section at the north end of the OTHS football field was teeming with excitement for the starting season at Friday evening’s Blue & Gold Scrimmage. 

The scrimmage, held on Friday, August 17, featured all of the various levels of area football, from Little Panthers all the way to Varsity. Additionally, the cheerleaders, Golden Girls, and Marching Panthers performed for the crowd.

(O’Fallon Weekly Photos by Nick Miller)

To view photos of the Little Panthers, click HERE.

To view photos of the Golden Girls, click HERE.

To view photos of the Golden Girl campers performance, click HERE.

To view photos of the Cheerleaders, click HERE.

To view photos of JV football, click HERE.

To view photos of Varsity football, click HERE.

To view photos of the Marching Panthers, click HERE.

Panther football closes season on high note

BY SAM SCINTA
WEEKLY REPORTER

Senior wide receiver Ronnie Anthony celebrates his second touchdown of the night against Granite City (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

Granite City High School is leaving the Southwestern Conference at the end of the school year, ending an over two decades-long yearly match up between OTHS sports with it.

On Friday night in Granite City, the Panthers made sure to give them something to remember them by.

Senior wide receiver Ronnie Anthony had three receptions for 125 yards and 3 touchdowns, junior quarterback Christian Curtis threw for 234 yards and 4 touchdowns, and the O’Fallon Panthers finished their 2017 season with a 35-21 win over the Warriors at Kevin Greene Field.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Edwardsville Tigers run over Panthers

BY SAM SCINTA
WEEKLY REPORTER

Just when it seemed the O’Fallon Township High School Football team had righted the ship on its season, along came Edwardsville and the dangerous Tiger rushing attack.

Junior back Antonio Thigpen Jr. rushed for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns, pacing what was a lethal Tiger offense en route to a 62-14 blowout win Friday night in Edwardsville.

“I have to credit my O-line,” Thigpen said after the game. “All of their hard work and preparation gives me the space I need to make an impact.”

The Panthers struggled across all phases on the evening, failing to stop the Tigers from scoring on all but one drive.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Panthers defeat Lancers in Homecoming thriller

BY COLTEN STEELE
WEEKLY REPORTER

Senior Jacob Flores dives into the end zone, with two Lancers attempting to hold him back, as he scores the first of the Panthers’ touchdowns during Friday’s Homecoming game. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

There is nothing better than winning the Homecoming football game on Friday night to start Homecoming festivities for the weekend. That’s what the Panthers did as they defeated conference opponent Belleville East, 43-40.

“I was extremely excited for the players to get this homecoming win. The fact that we battled back from deficits and handled adversity well is a testament our student athletes,” Head Coach Brandon Joggerst said.

From the opening kickoff, this couldn’t have been a better game for homecoming night.

The Panthers started off the game making some costly mistakes, but also played very well defensively and holding the Lancers to just seven points in quarter one, as the Lancers would go into the second quarter leading by seven.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Panthers hold on for first win against Collinsville

BY SAM SCINTA
WEEKLY REPORTER

Sophomore running back Will Osuma powers past a Kahoks defender during the Panthers’ game against Collinsville Friday night. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

COLLINSVILLE – Defensive Back Austin Johnson could feel the moment.

His team, 0-3 on the year, was up by three with a little over a minute left in the game, but was in desperate need of a defensive stop. Then Collinsville quarterback Chris Chi underthrew his receiver into double coverage, and Johnson knew what he had to do.

He stepped in front of the Kahok wide receiver and intercepted the toss, sealing a 34-31 Panther win on Friday night in Collinsville, finally getting his team into the win column.

The Panthers got out to a dream start in their second Southwestern Conference game of the season, racing out of the gates to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter after not having scored once in the first half in the season’s previous three games.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Athlete Spotlight – Osuma makes a statement

BY SAM SCINTA 
WEEKLY REPORTER

Through the first three games of the 2017 O’Fallon Panther Football season, the Panthers had scored just 16 points.

Sophomore running back Will Osuma was determined to change that.

Osuma scored a pair of first half touchdowns to go along with a career-high 131 yards rushing to help lead the Panthers to a thrilling 34-31 win in Collinsville over the Kahoks on Friday night.

The back had been primarily used as a feature behind junior Jacob Flores, but he certainly made the case for more carries on Friday, averaging 7.3 yards per carry while leading the team in that department with 18.

To read the full article, pick up a copof this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

More of the Same for Panthers in Loss to West

BY SAM SCINTA
WEEKLY REPORTER

The Gold Rush student section chanted “Throw the Ball” on third and long midway through the 2nd Quarter.

At play’s end, running back Jacob Flores was stopped well short of a first down, and an already frustrated fan base grew that much more restless as the O’Fallon Panthers football team turned in another hapless performance on their home turf, this time a 27-6 loss against the Belleville West Maroons.

The Maroons (2-1) would dominate on the defensive side of the ball, holding a predictable Panther attack to just 239 yards of total offense, allowing junior quarterback Christian Curtis to complete just over half of his attempted throws.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Panthers can’t escape Wildcats in Normal

BY COLTEN STEELE
WEEKLY REPORTER

Running Back Jacob Flores heads into a pack of Wildcats
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

NORMAL – It was the same story all over again for O’Fallon, as they dropped their second game of the season, losing to Normal West 41-7.

Head Coach Brandon Joggerst said, “Normal West is an extremely talented team that has a lot of offensive weapons. Their offense stresses your defense by multiple formations and playing at a frenetic pace.”

The Blue and Gold were down early as the Wildcats got out to a quick 14-0 lead over the Panthers in the first quarter. It seemed that this game was going to be a lot closer than watch the scoreboard showed, but the Wildcats weren’t going to stop what they had been doing all game.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Hawks rout Panthers in season opener

BY SAM SCINTA
WEEKLY REPORTER

Anneus Riggs and Deven Monahan wrap up Hawks wide receiver Reggie Certain.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

Picturing a dream start to a season usually includes a couple of big plays, a breakout performance from an under-the-radar player, and, most of all, a Week 1 win.

That’s not what happened to the O’Fallon Panthers at home on Friday night against Hazelwood Central.

The Panthers struggled to find anything on the offensive side of the ball while the defense held off a high-powered Hawk offense for as long as they could until the floodgates opened in the second half, and O’Fallon fell 34-3 in one of the worst home losses of Head Coach Brandon Joggerst’s tenure at OTHS.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Football kicks off their season with annual Blue and Gold game

BY SAM SCINTA
WEEKLY REPORTER

O’FALLON – The students are back on campus, and, after Friday night, so is football at O’Fallon Township High School.

Fans packed the stands for scrimmage play between offense and defense, giving a first look at the 2017 Panthers ahead of their regular season opener against Hazelwood Central this Friday night.

Play consisted of offense against defense for each level of Panther Football, starting with Little Panthers when the evening first started and ending with varsity at the conclusion of the event.

The evening also featured dance performances by campers from the OTHS Dance Camp from earlier in the summer, which featured dancers as young as four years old in choreographed routines in between the JV and Varsity scrimmages.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Athlete Spotlight – Kentrail Moran ready to run

BY SAM SCINTA
WEEKLY REPORTER

Kentrail Moran spent his four years at O’Fallon Township High School as one of the area’s premiere running backs, and now he is ready to make his mark as one of the best underclassmen backs in the Mountain West Conference.

He joined elite company after his freshman season when he earned a scholarship offer from Northern Illinois University, becoming one of the rare underclassmen to earn an NCAA Division 1 scholarship. Rather than sitting back on his laurels, Moran continued to improve and get stronger, eventually earning himself a slew of Division 1 offers from programs like Michigan, Kansas, and Louisville.

After what proved to be a four-year recruiting process, Moran announced his decision to sign with the University of New Mexico in May of 2016.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Panther Football readies for 2017 season

BY SAM SCINTA
WEEKLY REPORTER

Coach Brandon Joggerst speaks to his assembled group of players at football camp. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Sam Scinta)

While baseball has held the sports world’s gaze since Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors closed out the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, football is putting its pads back on and returning to the gridiron.

For the O’Fallon Township High School Panther Football program, this season is about building off of the growth they showed in 2016.

OTHS is coming off of back-to-back appearances in the IHSA State Playoffs, their first trips since failing to advance in the 2014 campaign, but if it weren’t for a timely four-game winning streak in the middle of last season, O’Fallon would certainly have been left out of postseason play.

The Panthers went 4-5 in the regular season last year, featuring wins over Alton, Granite City, Collinsville, and Belleville East, before losing 14-42 in the playoffs to Loyola Academy.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Athlete Spotlight – Hewitt, Watson-Blake named OTHS Athletes of the Year

BY SAM SCINTA
WEEKLY REPORTER

O’Fallon Township High School has announced its 2016-17 Athletes of the Year for both its boys and girls athletics programs.

Mason Hewitt, star of both the Panther Football and Wrestling programs, was named the boys recipient of the Matthew B. Hesse Award, given by former superintendent Maurice Hesse and the late Dolly Hesse in memory of their son.

The award is presented annually after a process of nomination and voting from the coaching staff at OTHS.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Athlete Spotlight – Barnes makes transfer decision

BY SAM SCINTA
 WEEKLY REPORTER

Austin with his mother Angela at EMU’s Bahamas Bowl appearance

Austin Barnes spent four years at O’Fallon Township High School as one of the premiere high school kickers in the country. So good, in fact, that he had offers to walk on and punt for programs like Alabama and Notre Dame.

Barnes instead took a far rarer path for a punter; kicking on scholarship for a Division 1 program at Eastern Michigan.
Across parts of four seasons, Barnes became one of the top punters in Division 1 in terms of distance, and now he will take his talents to Greenville, North Carolina and the East Carolina University Pirates with NFL-sized dreams.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition