With Lyons Township, Hinsdale Central, Glenbard West and Oak Park and River Forest all in the mix, the West Suburban Conference Silver Division is one of the top high school football conferences in the state.
Among the top four, however, the best rivalry exists between LTHS and Hinsdale Central.
The host Lions and Red Devils renewed acquaintances on Friday at Bennett Field with Hinsdale Central holding on for a 28-21 victory.
The Red Devils’ victory coupled with OPRF’s loss at Glenbard West puts Hinsdale Central (7-0, 5-0 West Suburban Silver) atop the conference, followed by LTHS and OPRF (both 6-1, 3-1) and Glebard West (5-2, 3-2) with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
LTHS dug out of a 21-0 deficit late in the third quarter with three unanswered touchdowns against the Red Devils.
“We need to start a lot faster,” LTHS junior quarterback Ben Bryant said. “Not scoring any points in the first half really hurt us. Starting fast is probably our biggest problem right now.”
Bryant fueled the rally with an 83-yard touchdown pass to Hasahn Austin (5:15 left in the third quarter) and a 55-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Fischer (11:10 left in fourth). In between those TDs, senior safety Thomas Jackson ran into the end zone on a scoop and score after LTHS blocked a punt deep in Hinsdale Central territory.
“The defensive line and linebackers did a great job on that play,” Jackson said. “I was just happy to be in a position to catch it and come down with it.
“We were doing what we know we could do. Our offense is great; I don’t think there’s a better one than ours. Once they get their confidence up, it’s hard to stop them.”
Tied at 21-all, Hinsdale Central senior quarterback Josh Bean scored on a TD run midway through the fourth quarter to give the Red Devils the lead for good at 28-21.
Bryant went 10-for-20 passing with 189 yards and two touchdowns. Austin (2 catches, 93 yards) and Fischer (2 catches, 65 yards) led the wide receiving corps. Senior running back Reggie Terrell chipped in 39 yards on six carries for the Lions.
“Our offensive line played great and our receivers ran good routes,” Bryant said. “They got open pretty easily. I just threw the ball which was the easy part. They all played really well.”
The Lions visit OPRF Saturday in another marquee matchup. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
The Huskies are led by senior quarterback Jeremy Hunt and a plethora of playmakers including running back Terrance Roundy and wide receivers Jared Scott, Eddie Gorens and Craig Shelton, With the exception of a 56-39 loss at Glenbard West, the OPRF defense has been formidable as well this season.
“That will be another tough one. OPRF is a great team,” LTHS coach Kurt Weinberg said. “We have to improve on the things we made mistakes on today and see where we go.”