The Lyons Township High School football team is proud of its recent accomplishments, most notably three consecutive appearances in the Class 8A quarterfinals of the IHSA state playoffs.
In order to keep that impressive postseason streak alive, however, the Lions (3-4, 2-2 West Suburban Silver) will need to win their final two regular season games against York and Proviso West to punch their ticket for a probable playoff berth.
LTHS is on the postseason bubble after losing 31-26 to visiting Oak Park and River Forest Saturday afternoon at Bennett Field in Western Springs. With 5:25 left in the game Saturday, LTHS quarterback Tommy Fiedler tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Sam Shea on a slant pattern cutting the Huskies’ lead to 24-19. The Huskies responded with a decisive drive to quell the LTHS rally.
OPRF (6-1, 4-1 West Suburban Silver) went on an eight-play, 76-yard scoring drive capped off by Yates’ 26-yard touchdown run up the middle, extending the Huskies’ advantage to 31-19 with 2:26 left in the game.
The Lions scored a touchdown with 1:10 to go when Fiedler rolled out and zipped a 10-yard strike to Shea, pulling the LTHS within 31-26. LTHS attempted an onside kick, but the Huskies’ special teams ace, Jake Lintvelt, secured the ball, essentially putting a close to the Lions’ modest but important two-game win streak.
LTHS standout junior running back Leonard Ross finished with 66 yards on 17 carries against the Huskies. The Division I college football prospect left the game in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.
While Ross was held in relative check, Fiedler hung in the pocket tough against a fast, swarming OPRF defense which sacked him five times. The left-handed Fiedler finished 26 of 43 for 242 yards passing with three touchdowns. Matt Mrazek (seven catches, 66 yards), Shea (five catches, 49 yards, two touchdowns) and Marcell Kellum (four catches, 52 yards, touchdown) served as Fiedler’s primary passing targets. Implementing its up-tempo offense, LTHS finished with 277 yards of total offense.
In the first quarter, kicker Joe Bruni kept the Lions within range of OPRF by nailing field goal kicks of 40 and 32 yards as the Huskies led 14-6 at the end of the period. OPRF also held a 24-12 halftime advantage.
Yates rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and completed 9 of 16 passes for 104 yards. Senior running backs Mike Hayden (12 carries, 67 yards, two touchdowns) and Jamal Baggett (11 carries, 61 yards) along with wide receiver Simmie Cobbs (seven catches, 81 yards) shouldered the rest of the OPRF offensive load.
Head coach John Hoerster, who has done a magnificent job resurrecting the OPRF program, appreciated the value of escaping Western Springs with a victory against the Lions and their equally well-regarded head coach Kurt Weinberg
“When you come in on a Saturday afternoon to a school like LT that’s always well-prepared with a great coaching staff for their homecoming game, we’re pretty happy to come out of here with a win,” Hoerster said.
The Lions take on York on Friday, Oct. 18 in Elmhurst. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.