A scrappy defense that blocked a punt, recovered two fumbles and came up with an interception kept the Lyons Township football team in the game Friday night against Hinsdale Central, but in the end the Red Devils’ size, strength and physicality was too much for the host Lions who fell 31-10 April 23 at Bennett Stadium in Western Springs.
Hinsdale Central went undefeated to claim the West Suburban Conference Silver Division title in the short, strange pandemic-shortened football season of the 2020-21 school year.
LTHS finished the season 2-2. The Lions missed two games of the six-game season, both due to the pandemic. The first game of the season against York was cancelled because of a COVID case in the Lions program, while their games against Glenbard West was cancelled because of COVID case at Glenbard West.
The Lions struck first against Hinsdale Central (6-0) when Ryan Hatter Jr. roared in to block a punt on the first possession of the game. The Lions drove 36 yards down to the Hinsdale Central 6-yard line before stalling. Marko Dubak kicked a 23-yard field goal to put the Lions ahead 3-0.
But Hinsdale Central dominated the rest of the first half, first tying the game with a field goal, and then scoring two touchdowns to take a 17-3 halftime lead. The Lions, who struggled to move the ball all night, managed just three first downs in the first half and only one after their opening drive.
“They were very physical, they got after us and offensively we didn’t have much of a first half,” said first-year LTHS head coach Jon Beutjer.
The Lions moved the ball better in the third quarter. After an interception by senior linebacker Michael Newsome stopped a Hinsdale Central drive, the Lions put together their best drive of the game, marching 76 yards on 12 plays and pulling to within a touchdown when junior quarterback Joey Antonietti darted into the end zone on a three-yard touchdown run.
That made the score 17-10 with 2:24 remaining in the third quarter. The key play in the drive was a 31-yard completion from Antonietti to Thomas Adelson on a fly pattern up the right sideline.
But Hinsdale Central responded by dominating the fourth quarter, holding LTHS to just one first down the rest of the game and scoring two more touchdowns to put the game away.
As he has all season, Antonietti led the LTHS offense, but could only manage 46 yards rushing on 20 carries against the stout Hinsdale Central defense. Antonietti completed 8 of 17 passes for 82 yards passing. Freshman running back John Cheney rushed for 34 yards on 10 carries. Hinsdale Central piled up 422 yards of total offense to just 170 for the Lions.
Two fumble recoveries by junior defensive back Owen McManaman helped keep the game close.
“We just really couldn’t get anything going offensively,” Beutjer said.
The loss was the Lions’ seventh straight to Hinsdale Central.
“This being our rivals, it hurt a little bit more than it usually would,” said Hatter who will be playing football at Roosevelt University next year.
The loss ended the short spring football season which was cobbled together after the fall season was cancelled because of the pandemic.
“It’s been odd but honestly I’m just super grateful that we even got the chance to play because all these kids mean the world to me,” said senior defensive back Jimmy Pouba, a captain and leader of the defense.