After comfortable back-to-back shutout victories, senior lineman Eddie Tuerk and the Lyons Township High School football team’s defense was determined to show their progress Friday against West Suburban Conference Silver power Downers Grove North.
“We just wanted to prove to everyone that we’re still hanging around with these big teams. And we’re one of those teams,” Tuerk said.
The Lions impressively played their way right back into possibly their first conference title since 2010 after beating the Trojans 17-7 at Bennett Field in Western Springs.
LTHS (5-2, 4-1 in Silver) has won three straight since losing 13-10 in Week 4 at Glenbard West (5-2, 3-1). With the Hilltoppers defeating York 28-7, Friday, the Lions can earn at least a title share if they win Saturday afternoon’s Homecoming game against the Dukes (6-1, 3-1).
“That’s something we’re all excited about,” Tuerk said. “Homecoming, the big game against York. You can’t really ask for anything more. To take home that conference championship would be pretty cool.”
The Lions took advantage of two gifts for a 14-0 halftime lead. Junior running back Danny Carroll rushed for 137 yards on 34 carries and a touchdown.
The Trojans (5-2, 3-2), playing without star running back Noah Battle for the second consecutive week, were held to 32 rushing yards and 170 total. Tyler Chambers and Jack McQueeney recovered fumbles and Danny Montesano had an interception.
“Our guys are playing good, and we’re just going to continue getting better. That’s the goal each week,” LTHS coach Jon Beutjer said.
“York’s a good team. They’ve got some physical players. But we’re not focused on the prize. We’re focused on the process. We want to keep getting better, and we’ll continue to send that message to the kids.”
In the first quarter, the Lions had first down on the Trojans’ 23 after a high punt snap, but they couldn’t cash in as quarterback Ryan Jackson was intercepted by Owen Thulin on the 14.
However, Downers North running back Jake Gregorio fumbled two plays later, and Chambers scooped up the ball and returned it to the Trojans’ 3. This time, the Lions took advantage as Carroll scored on the next play for a 7-0 lead at the 5:27 mark of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Thulin blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt by LTHS kicker Tommy Newcomb. Starting from their 2, the Trojans moved the ball to midfield, but on fourth and 1, Jimmy Janicki’s knee touched the turf as he fielded a low punt snap.
LTHS gained possession on the DGN 35 and scored on the next play. Jackson (7-of-14 passing, 72 yards) hit Travis Stamm for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 1:48 left in the first half.
In the third quarter, the Lions used Carroll to keep the ball in their hands. Carroll rushed for 58 yards on 10 carries.
“That was our game plan, to run the ball,” said Carroll, who rushed for 79 yards in the second half. “I love all my linemen; they did their jobs right and we just pounded the rock.”
With 6:43 left, Newcomb’s 27-yard field goal raised LT’s lead to 17-0. The Trojans averted the shutout with 2:53 left when Owen Lansu hit Thulin for a 25-yard touchdown.
“Not only the O-line but all of the other positions were working as one unit,” said Tuerk, a two-way starter who will play at Illinois. “On defense, we’ve just been doing a good job of not allowing points and getting turnovers. That’s something we’ve been doing really well that we can keep up.”