In a year full of adversity, specifically a slow start and a plethora of injuries to his team on the field, Lyons football coach Jack Derning endured a far more difficult personal loss off the gridiron last week. While his Lions prepared for their game against Glenbard West, Derning traveled to North Dakota to attend his sister’s funeral and be with his family.
The Lions, practicing with heavy hearts all week, turned in an inspired game performance on Saturday during their emotional 30-20 win over the Hilltoppers in Glen Ellyn. The Lions dedicated the conference victory to Derning; however, the appreciative coach quickly reciprocated the respect to his team.
“This win is a credit to my coaching staff and to my seniors,” said Derning, who returned a few days before the game. “These guys didn’t miss a beat. They were prepared and ready to play. There is a great support system here. This team is like a second family for me.”
The Lions (3-4, 1-3 West Suburban Silver) showed plenty of mettle in the first half, particularly running back Casey McMurray. The versatile senior scored on a pair of touchdown runs (52 and 3 yards, respectively), kicked a 29-yard field goal and booted a 58-yard punt to propel the Lions to a 17-7 lead at the half.
“We dedicated this win to coach [Derning],” McMurray said. “Glenbard West had a lot of guys playing both ways so we knew they would get tired. We had to keep the pressure on them and be in their faces all day long.”
Lyons kept the heat on the Hilltoppers when Lucas Gasek capped off a nine-play, 46-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard plunge to make it a 23-7 score at the 4:38 mark of the third quarter.
Glenbard West responded with a 15-yard touchdown run by Chris Watt to close the gap to 23-13 with 10:51 left in the game.
On Lyons’ ensuing possession, Gasek squashed the Hilltoppers’ short-lived momentum with a 49-yard run. Three plays later, a busy McMurray recorded his third touchdown on the day with an 8-yard TD scamper off left tackle.
Riding a two-game winning streak, the Lions host Downer Grove North Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The Trojans (5-2, 4-1), fresh off an impressive 20-10 victory over Oak Park, are led by the talented tandem of quarterback Brendan Briscoe and running back Kevin Tokarski.
“Downers Grove North is a tough team,” said Derning. “They play great defense and [Kevin] Tokarski gives them an added dimension.”