Oberlin Football Looks to Make Last Impact in 2022 Season


Courtesy of Amanda Phillips

Oberlin College football’s offensive line sets up at the line of scrimmage.

Despite a challenging 2021 season, Oberlin football is looking to end the year on a high note. Two weeks ago the Yeomen beat Hiram 31–28, and are hoping to secure a second win this Saturday against the Allegheny College Gators. The team has improved significantly, but its record has not reflected this, as the team is currently sitting at 1–8 overall and 1–7 in conference play. On the surface, this season may seem like the team has suffered a lot of losses, but if you take a closer look, it is clear that the Yeomen have a bright future ahead of them. 

Out of the nine games this season, three of the team’s losses were by seven points or less, a marked improvement on 2019 games. It seems this increased competitiveness is not a fluke either, as the team’s offensive statistics have skyrocketed compared to the past season. With one game left, the team already has 886 more total yards and 17 more touchdowns than last season. 

Third-year quarterback Chris Allen Jr. has significantly improved with 17 total touchdowns this season. During the week of Oct. 25, Allen received North Coast Atlantic Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Hiram College, recording 247 yards through the air and 104 yards on the ground with four total touchdowns. 

Allen attributes the team’s offensive improvement to a new understanding of the mental aspect of the game.

“Our coaches do a great job of teaching to understand the ‘why’ of what we are doing, and what other defenses are trying to do to stop us,” Allen said. “We’re up near the top of the conference statistically, and even still, we have so much more room for growth and improvement.”

Unfortunately, the defense has not matched the same level of improvement as the offense. Total yards allowed are fairly similar compared to last season, and the defense has allowed 15 more touchdowns this season. However, some defenders show a lot of potential for the future. 

In collegiate football, a sack occurs when the opposing team’s quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage before they can throw a forward pass. Third-year defensive lineman Ethan Boufford is currently top 10 in the conference in sacks, with four so far this year. If he maintains this ranking after Saturday, he will be the first Oberlin player to reach the top 10 in sacks since 2013. 

Boufford believes that the miscues on defense this year stem largely from inexperience. 

“The defense has spurts of greatness, but we also have missed assignments and missed keys, which leads to poor play,” he said. “Outside of myself, no one really played in the 2019 season on defense, so we really have a lot of young guys who just need time to develop and I think we could really be something special and be able to change the face of defensive football at Oberlin.”

The revitalized team has a promising matchup this weekend against Allegheny. The Gators hold one of the lowest winning records in the conference right now, and are currently tied with Oberlin in conference play. Allegheny’s rushing offense numbers show that their offense is much more simple than Oberlin’s multi-faceted approach. That being said, Oberlin’s versatility alone is not reason enough for them to win this game. The Gators’ 3813 win against Hiram Oct. 16 shows that they should not be underestimated. 

As expected, Head Football Coach Steve Opgenorth has his team well prepared for their upcoming matchup. When asked about strategies they plan to implement this Saturday, Opgenorth said that he thinks the difference will come down to which team has more mental toughness.

“It’s going to be about our culture versus theirs in terms of who wants to finish it the right way,” he said. “We’ve got to arrive to show that Oberlin College football is different. The expectation is different, work ethic is different, …  and the standard we set is different. … It’s not always about X’s and O’s, it’s going to be about Jimmy’s and Joe’s.” 

This Saturday will be the team’s last chance to showcase the winning culture that Oberlin football is trying to develop this season. 

The team will have the time to improve during the offseason, and this roster is young enough to make an impact in fall 2022. The majority of Oberlin’s starting receivers are first-, second-, and third-years, and the defensive starters are almost entirely first- and second-years. If the players on this roster continue to develop as expected, it is possible that we could see much better results from the team in the future. 

“We may not get there tomorrow, we might not get there next week, but because of pushing the envelope and guys buying into the concepts and philosophy … we’ll break through eventually and certainly will be better going forward,” Opgenorth said.