Friday Night Lights doesn’t belong to just the Lyons Township history-making football team this year. The LT wrestlers are equally eager to get after it under the glare of stiff West Suburban (Silver) Conference competition on Friday’s this winter.

Whether it’s primary rival Oak Park, Hinsdale Central, York or any other loaded Silver foe, the Lyons will have their hands full.

“I’m excited about the competition in conference,” LT coach Griff Powell said. “Every Friday night we need to be ready to go because we’ll be facing a Top 25-ranked team in state.”

The Lions went 15-7, finished second in conference and won a regional title last season. OPRF knocked off LT in the sectional team competition.

LT appears ready for another run at the Huskies and state thanks to an experienced roster of grapplers. Senior Drew Bates took sixth place at 130 pounds in the state finals last season. Bates missed a few matches due to injury to open this season; however, his brother, Jack, filled in admirably, winning four matches.

Returning state qualifier Joe Gonzalez (215) and Matt Nora (152), both coming off 30-plus win seasons, are other key returnees. Nora finished first at Barrington in dominant fashion, scoring major decisions in his first four bouts before winning by technical fall at 4:49 against Joliet West’s Greg Rucker in the title bout.

Jack Windmoeller (135), Lucas Polka (145) and Brian Pieroth (285) are all capable of qualifying for state this year.

Keen competition will be common at the LT lower weight classes. Sophomores Brian Krueger and Justin Young are both in the mix at 103 pounds, while junior Conor Condon is the main man at 112, pushed by talented freshman A.J. Villarreal. Carter Beebe (119), T.J. McCabe (125), Cris Rojas (140), Jack Pearson (160) and Mike Rende (170) fill out the rest of the light/middleweight classes. Freshman Taj Marks (125) and sophomore Kyle Casillo (140) could also see mat time.

The rest of the Lions’ heavier weight classes are filled by more football players. Jaime Jones, LT’s star running back, will wrestle at 189 along with fellow gridiron-turned-grappler guy Kyle Shinall. Blaise Davis, a linebacker/defensive end, will push Pieroth at 285.

“We have a very experienced group,” Powell said. “Our guys are hungry to get on the podium in Champaign [at state finals]. I really like our depth.”

Lyons placed second (159 points) behind winner Marist (174.5 points) at the 32-team field Barrington Invite.