The Lyons Township High School football team clinched a return to the IHSA Class 8A state playoffs with a 48-7 home victory over Leyden on Oct. 7.

In the Lions’ eyes, the playoff atmosphere begins this week.

For LTHS (6-1, 3-1 in West Suburban Silver), the last two regular-season games are against fellow playoff-bound teams – on Oct. 14 at Glenbard West (6-1, 3-1) and Oct. 22 at home against Downers Grove North (5-2, 2-2). 

There remains a chance to share the WSC Silver title if York (7-0, 5-0) is upset in Week 9 by Oak Park and River Forest (4-3, 1-3).

“We’re going to have to play our best to win both games,” LTHS junior quarterback Ryan Jackson said. “They’re two good teams that’ll prepare us for the playoffs.” 

Jackson passed for three more touchdowns on Oct. 7 in going 12 for 14 for 187 yards. On the season, Jackson is 86 for 120 for 1,268 yards and 17 touchdowns. He began seeing varsity action as a sophomore and started the team’s playoff game against 2021 Class 8A state champion Lockport.

“Last season to now I think I’ve been reading defenses better, making the right decisions, taking what the defense gives me,” Jackson said. “It was good to see how the competition would be, how it would look to get me prepared for this year. I thought it was humbling, motivated me a lot.” 

A 60-yard touchdown strike to Travis Stamm (3 catches, 86 yards) opened a 41-0 lead in the third quarter against Leyden. Stamm also caught a 12-yard touchdown pass 53 seconds before halftime for a 28-0 lead after Noah Pfafflin made the score 21-0 with his 6-yard reception.

Six receivers caught between one and three passes.

“I love to have those talented receivers. I’m blessed to have them on my team,” Jackson said.

Dylan Rickman (4 carries, 81 yards) had an electrifying 58-yard touchdown run with 7:00 left after Leyden (1-6) scored on the final play of the third quarter. Jackson rushed for the game’s first touchdown, a 4-yarder, and Danny Pasko followed with a 1-yard scoring run. Jack McQueeney had a 19-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.

Defensive standouts included Pasko (5 tackles, 2 for loss), Kellen Knop (3 tackles, 2 for loss), Quinn Magee, Quinn Farnan, James Georgelos and Cooper King (3 tackles each) and Pfafflin (2 tackles, 1 for loss).