Lyons Township High School starting wide receiver Brandon Fischer understandably was concerned before Friday’s football season opener against Warren.
Not only is Fischer a sophomore promoted from last year’s freshman team. He’s also playing a new position.
“I was pretty nervous because I never played in a varsity game before and I skipped sophomore football so I didn’t know what to expect,” Fischer said.
On just the Lions’ second offensive play of the game, Fischer made his first reception.
The 21-yard touchdown catch from quarterback and fellow sophomore Ben Bryant initiated the Lions’ 24-0 victory in Western Springs.
“After that play, I wasn’t nervous at all and then I just started playing normally. I think it set the tone for the game,” Fischer said.
The Lions didn’t look like a squad returning just two starters and with new coordinators Jon Beutjer (offense) and Bryan Bergman (defense).
They led 14-0 after just 5:23. Carlos Schultz concluded the scoring with a 39-yard field goal to end the first half.
The defense’s recovery of a fumble in the end zone and Steven Heim’s interception inside the 10 helped to shut out the Blue Devils (7-3 in 2014).
“We’re very pleased to play well in our opener,” LTHS coach Kurt Weinberg said. “It’s really, really important to set up our season well and against a great opponent with a great running back. It was a very, very positive night for sure. We had a lot of question marks (beforehand).”
After Fischer’s TD catch, LTHS recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Reggie Terrell eventually scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Jimmy Saracco’s 7-yard touchdown catch opened a 21-0 lead.
“I think confidence was important for us – young guys not having done it before – so getting off to a strong start was important obviously,” Weinberg said.
Besides his two touchdowns, Bryant completed 11 of 23 passes for 177 yards. Fischer had six catches for 130 yards.
“(Bryant is) very calm. He’s got that demeanor that I think good quarterbacks have,” Weinberg said. “I think he’s a bit more mature beyond his years. He had some great reads. He even did some things that, in my opinion, are kind of at the next level of what you’d want a quarterback to do that you wouldn’t expect at point.”
Fischer and Bryant and have been football teammates since seventh grade. However, Fischer previously only played running back. Fischer recalled only two of more than 20 touchdowns as a freshman via short passes.
“On (Friday’s TD) play we put in, it’s really hard to defend. Coach (Beutjer) was able to get me wide open, good play calling,” Fischer said. “Since I’m used to (Bryant) from last year, I think that helped out a lot.”
Heim and Matt Phillipp had six total tackles. Other defensive standouts included Tyler Graf (5 tackles), Taylor Curlin (sack) and Mickey Brown (tackle for loss), another sophomore.
With LTHS winning 14-0, standout Warren running back Darrius Crump (115 rushing yards) covered more than 20 yards and was about to score, but the Lions jarred the ball loose and recovered the fumble in the end zone.
Warren junior Wes Weinberg, Kurt’s son, started at fullback and was part of the punt team.
“Even after all of these years I get nervous before every game. This game, my stomach was doing flip flops,” Kurt Weinberg said. “As a father, I want my son to win and as a coach I want my players to win so it was a very strange dynamic. It was a strange feeling seeing him out there and then also kind of keeping an eye on our boys as well.”
LTHS (1-0) hosts Morton (0-1) in a West Suburban Conference crossover on Friday, Sept. 4 (7:30 p.m. at Bennett Field).