Patrick Cramer

Senior Patrick Cramer often is an unsung hero for the Lyons Township High School football team as the long-snapper for placekicker David Waight and holder Thomas Townsend.

In his final regular-season home game on Oct. 22, Cramer was front and center for one of the biggest plays all year.

Cramer blocked a punt snapped from the 30-yard line and returned the ball for a touchdown with 3:56 left to secure the Lions’ 24-13 West Suburban Conference Silver victory over Downers Grove North at Bennett Field.

“It still feels like a dream. It’s just fun, getting in there, getting a hand on it, scooping and scoring,” Cramer said. “I saw the ball was just spinning on the 5. I heard out of my left ear one of my teammates [say], ‘That’s your scoop.’ I just went, picked it up and ran in. It is probably my biggest LT moment.”

LTHS (7-2, 4-2 in WSC Silver) is the No. 14 seed in its return to the IHSA Class 8A playoffs and will play host to No. 19 Naperville Central (6-3) at 7 p.m. on Oct. 28.

The Redhawks tied for second in the DuPage Valley Conference at 4-2 with wins over two Illinois playoff teams, DeKalb and Naperville North. They’ve lost to playoff-bound Plainfield North, Neuqua Valley and Naperville North. They’ve allowed fewer than 10 points in six games.

The goal is to peak at the right time and now is the time we really want to be playing our best football,” LTHS coach Jon Beutjer said.

The Lions seek their first playoff victory since 2016 after their first seven-win regular-season since 2017 which gave them third place in the WSC Silver over the Trojans (6-3, 3-3). Last year’s 5-5 team lost their playoff opener at eventual Class 8A state champion Lockport.

“We’ve have two or three games this season where we came back. We just troop together and we find a way to win,” said LTHS junior two-way lineman Eddie Tuerk, who suffered an ankle injury in the Glenbard West game.

The Lions overcame their biggest deficit this season (10-0) to win, getting a Waight field goal and 2-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Jackson to Travis Stamm to tie the game 21.4 seconds before halftime.

Another field goal put the Trojans ahead 13-10 with 6:40 left in the third quarter but they didn’t get another first down until the final minute.

Senior two-way player James Georgelos set the tone for the go-ahead score by breaking a tackle on his reception for another 10 yards and a 17-yard gain to the Trojans’ 34. Two plays later, a pass interference penalty on a throw to Stamm, gave the Lions the ball at the 15.

Senior Danny Pasko, who also starts at linebacker, ran three straight times with a 3-yard touchdown run for a 17-13 lead with 5:28 left.

“It was a big drive, long drive and all of my buddies were in the end zone,” Pasko said. “[Then Cramer’s block was probably one of the coolest moments of my life, watching him take that in. That was awesome.”