“We came together at the right time,” said Oak Forest Head Coach Jason Brabham. The Jackets lost four games early in the season and all four of those losses were by a touchdown or less.
“After we lost back-to-back games against Central Private and Bowling Green we seemed to start to move in the right direction. The team new they had one more shot to keep their playoff hopes alive and they worked hard and took advantage of their one shot.”
The Jackets would lose once more in the regular season as they fell to defending State Champion Centreville 35-14 in a game in which Oak Forest turnovers led to a lot of Tigers points on the scoreboard.
“It could have been bad but the team never gave up. I have never seen a team make that kind of turn around in a season that fast before. I am really proud of this group,” Brabham said. The Jackets season was nearly over when they fell to 4-5 but Oak Forest went on a serious roll the rest of the season.
With a 4-5 record the Jackets faced must win situations in their final regular season contest. The Jackets rose to the challenge and did not lose again before advancing to the South State Title Game where they faced rival Centreville once again but this meeting had a berth in the MPSA AA Title game on the line.
One key was the addition of Defensive Coordinator Doug Mista. Mista’s defensive knowledge was a welcomed addition and proved to be a solid move for the Jackets Football Program.
“He took a lot of pressure off me. We get along well and work well together. He’s great at making halftime adjustments and he’s one heck of a coach,” Brabham said of Mista. Oak Forest beat Central Private in the first round of the playoffs 28-22 then the Jackets blew out Trinity Episcopal 30-7 setting up a another rematch with Centreville.
The Jackets went toe-to-toe with the Tigers but came up short as Centreville went on to beat the Jackets 17-14 and then captured their second straight state title the following week with 28-10 win over Kirk Academy.
A season that looked to be over turned into one that will go down as one of the best playoff runs in school history for the Yellow Jackets. And teams that play OFA should take note that this team will be back!
Coach Brabham agrees. “We do have a lot of players coming back. The team has already starting to get into our off season program and that shows the importance of putting the team first. Even though this team started district play 0-2 they new they had a chance and they made the best of it.”