The Lyons Township High School football team lost its IHSA Class 8A playoff opener Oct. 30 at Lockport, but not in the eyes of senior captains Owen Cherry, John Tobin and Joey Antonietti.
The Lions won at Downers Grove North in a regular-season finale showdown in which only the winner made the playoffs.
“That game was really fun. It was a playoff game [to us], so we kind of treated this like the second week,” Cherry said.
The No. 29-seeded Lions lost to No. 4 Lockport 35-10 in their first playoff appearance since 2017.
LTHS (5-5) scored on a 37-yard field goal from David Waight to end the first half trailing 21-3. Sophomore quarterback Ryan Jackson found a wide-open Graham Smith for a 39-yard touchdown pass to close to 28-10 with 9:43 remaining.
“I want to say this [Lockport] team was the best team we played all year,” Cherry said. “The effort was always there. If you don’t get results, you don’t get results. As long as everyone’s putting in 100 percent, buying in, that’s all you can ask for.”
The seniors started 1-8 as freshmen and saw three varsity head coaches during their tenure.
“They’ve accomplished something, getting into the playoffs, getting the program in the right direction,” second-year LTHS coach Jon Beutjer said. “Obviously, there’s a lot more work to do but I’m really proud the way the seniors fought and battled against a really, really good football team.”
In Week 6, quarterback Antonietti also began being used at wide receiver and running back. Beutjer said Antonietti excelled against Downers North despite dislocating his shoulder the previous game.
“You could see him out there, blocking, one hand,” Beutjer said.
“He’s played quarterback his whole life. Then in the middle of his senior year, he’s willing to say, ‘Coach, what’s best for the team. I just want to win.’ And that was genuine. And then he really kind of relished that role.”
Naz triumphs in playoff opener
In Class 5A, No. 14 bracket seed Nazareth (6-4) won its playoff opener over No. 3 Goode 54-6 and now visits No. 11 Marmion (7-3) at 1 p.m. on Nov. 6.
Kaleb Miller rushed for 98 yards and four touchdowns, Benjamin Michel had a 55-yard interception and 98-yard kickoff return for touchdowns and Jacob Eraci and Aidan Pieper had touchdown runs.