Upon coming off consecutive state quarterfinal appearances, the goal for the Lyons Township football team this season is crystal clear and highly ambitious: win a state championship.
With several key returning starters, most notably Northwestern-bound Matt Harris and Penn-commit Nick Demes, LT should be a viable contender in both the rugged West Suburban (Silver) Conference and the postseason.
“Obviously, it’s the highest goal a team can have but we’re going for a state title,” LT coach Kurt Weinberg said. “I feel very good about our football team. This senior group came in with me when I took the job at LT. It’s a talented, experienced group of kids who work hard and genuinely like each other.”
The 6-foot, 180-pound Harris is an explosive athlete with tremendous speed who will be utilized in multiple positions on the field. While opponents certainly will key-in on containing the Lions’ top scoring threat, Weinberg expects to use the elusive Harris as a wideout, running back and even wildcat quarterback in addition to playing cornerback and returning kicks.
Along with Harris, the Lions feature offensive weapons in quarterback Zack Mahoney, running back Vince Conforti and a cadre of skilled wide receivers in Jemari Burks, Marcell Kellum, Matt Mrazek and Kevin Pikul. Demes (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) anchors the offensive line, which includes Quinn Cappetta (5-9, 250), Matt Wennerstrum (6-4, 275) and Daniel Kram (5-10, 215) among others. Connor Onion and Hillcrest-transfer Tre Woods will back up Mahoney and Conforti, at quarterback and running back, respectively.
“I’m very pumped for the season,” said the 6-3 Mahoney, who also plays basketball at LT. “We have an explosive offense with so many options and a really good defense, too. The key for us is to prove ourselves every week and not get caught up in what people say about us or the rankings.”
Defensively, Harris again assumes a primary role along with Jimmy Heim to form a talented tandem of defensive backs. Senior defensive back/linebacker Luke Gallagher also will see plenty of action in the Lions’ dime and nickel packages. LT is stacked at linebacker with returning starters Billy Cramsie, John Phillip and Pat Kelley.
LT also claims a now not-so-secret weapon in kicker Jake Elliott. The Lions’ kicker, who was recruited off the tennis team by a football teammate, burst onto the scene last season when he nailed a pair of game-winning field goals against Oak Park (52 yards) and York (47 yards) as time expired in both games.