OSWEGO – The passing attack returned to form, but it was not enough to save Hinsdale Central’s season.
After missing five weeks due to a fractured leg, quarterback Chase Hamilton played in his second straight game on Saturday, taking nearly all the snaps during a 42-14 loss to Oswego in the first round of the 7A playoffs.
In what was the final game of his senior season, Hamilton completed 11-of-29 passes for 144 yards. With the Red Devils trailing by multiple scores, he targeted senior receiver Ian Bunting early and often in the second half, but the Michigan recruit’s best outing of the season could not propel the Red Devils past the Panthers.
Hinsdale Central head coach Rich Tarka conceded that the number of passing plays resulted from being down multiple scores, but noted that the Hamilton-to-Bunting connection was a glimmer of what could have been.
“When Chase got hurt, it was hard to get Ian the ball and we instead concentrated on improving our ground game,” Tarka said. “But there is no doubt that Ian is a special receiver. Tonight we saw a flash of what could have been if the team was healthy.”
Bunting finished with five catches for 114 yards, all of which came in the second half.
In spite of a relentless Oswego attack, the Red Devils kept the game close for three quarters.
Trailing 14-0 and backed up to their own 11-yard line, running back Juwan Edmund found a seam and dashed 89 yards for a Red Devil touchdown. Central went into the locker room behind 21-7.
In the third quarter, Hinsdale Central turned the ball over on downs on consecutive drives in Oswego territory – the second stalling on the Panther 4-yard line.
On the other side of the ball, the Red Devils defense – which was on the field for a majority of the game – could not contain the Panthers’ powerful running attack, yielding 233 yards on 48 carries.
“Oswego has a big, physical offensive line,” Tarka said. “They came off the ball better than anybody we have seen. They came at us and fought and it was a great effort on their part.”
First round playoff loss aside, Tarka didn’t mince words, crediting his team’s will and calling the season a success.
“We had to fight through a lot this year,” Tarka said. “We played four different quarterbacks and had some key injuries, but this team never gave up; they fought through all the adversity and won their way into the playoffs.”
The Red Devils will say goodbye to senior leaders Hamilton, Bunting, running back Ben Stefani, two-way lineman Brian Allen and linebacker/quarterback Jacob White. Thomas Ives will likely take over the starting quarterback slot while Edmund will become the featured back.