Preview: No. 11 Oak Park Eagles

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The Oak Park Eagles are coming off a sub-.500 season in which they missed the playoffs for the first time in a very long time. Here is a look at the 2017 Eagles, with thanks to head coach Tarik Ergin and videographer Andy Browne.

Oak Park Eagles

2016 Record: 8-10 overall; did not make playoffs.
2017 Preseason Ranking: No. 11 in the coaches poll.
Coaching Staff: Tarik Ergin, head coach, eighth year (75-52); Bob Bjerkaas, assistant.

Players to Watch:

  • Max Bulko, senior attack: Returning captain and Offensive MVP. Led the team in scoring in 2016. Started on defense as a freshman, now in his third year as attack.
  • Adam Julius, junior, attack: A breakdown dodger with a blistering shot. He’s a compact and quick two-handed player with a nose for the goal.
  • Casey Hoops, Jordan Broussard, Nate Holguin, junior defenders: Let’s call them “Cerebus,” [after the three-headed beast from Greek mythology]. All three are slick ball-handlers and rock-solid defenders with speed.
  • Bryce Hardy, junior, midfield: Terrific athlete and competitor. Starting tailback on the OP football team. An old-fashioned two-way midfielder. Tough and determined.
  • Sophomores: OP is lucky to have three future All-Americans. LSM Joey Rosen, attack Tyler Bradbury and midfielder Max Manyak (Notre Dame commit).

Schedule Highlights: March 7, at No. 9 Oaks Christian; March 9, at No. 1 Loyola; March 15, vs. No. 7 Newbury Park; March 17, vs. No. 5 Thousand Oaks; March 21, vs. No. 4 Westlake; March 23, at No. 10 Sierra Canyon; April 6, No. 12 Chaminade; April 19, vs. No. 3 Harvard Westlake; April 21, vs. No. 6 Agoura.

Outlook: As the Eagles’ coaches and players note in the video, this is a young but very talented team. As an independent team — with no league affiliation — Oak Park must rely on surviving a strong schedule loaded with a number of highly ranked and highly regarded opponents — including 13 ranked in the preseason Top 20 — in order to earn playoff consideration. With half their games against teams from the Marmonte League (five) and Mission League (four), the Eagles will have every opportunity to state their case.

Special thanks to Andy Browne, a senior at Oak Park HS, and coach Tarik Ergin for creating and submitting this video preview. All teams voted into the preseason Top 20 are invited to follow suit.

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