Lyons Township High School senior football player Jack Cheney couldn’t ask for a much better transition to defense.
The starting strong safety has remained healthy after two injury-plagued seasons at running back. He’s also playing with his brother, sophomore linebacker Patrick Cheney, for the first time in organized football.
“I’ve liked it a lot. A lot of fun, getting to hit people,” Jack Cheney said. “It’s been a lot of fun playing with my brother, finally, on the field. It’s been an awesome nine games, excited to keep going.”
The Lions (6-3) have high hopes for another Class 8A playoff run as they visit Stevenson (7-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
LTHS is the No. 21 seed, but they silenced critics last season by reaching the state quarterfinals as a No. 14 seed. Friday’s winner gets No. 5 York (8-1) or No. 23 Homewood-Flossmoor (5-4) in the second round.
“I think we learned [last year] that regular-season records didn’t really mean anything going into playoffs,” said Jack Cheney after the Lions’ 63-7 victory at Proviso East in Friday’s regular-season finale.
“Anything can happen any game so we’re looking forward to almost starting a new season and getting ready for whoever we play.”
Patrick Cheney is among three key sophomores this season with offensive lineman James Hillman and defensive lineman Roman Sosnovyy.
“It’s been going good so far, first year, feeling confident out there,” Patrick said. “I’ve never got the chance to play with [Jack] before. What a memory to hold when we’re old. It’s exciting.”
Patrick did play a role in last year’s playoff run.
“I was on the scout team, so I was actually on the field with them. It was pretty sweet,” he recalled.
Against Proviso East (1-8), quarterback Ryan Jackson threw two 65-yard touchdown passes to Jack McQueeney and a 33-yarder to Travis Stamm.
Big-play touchdowns were by Dylan Rickman with a 60-yard interception return, Davey Paulus on a 30-yard fumble return, and Stamm on a 40-yard punt return.
Dominic Pisciotti threw a 17-yard TD pass to Charlie Vlk. Rickman and Luis Sanchez had 33- and 2-yard TD runs. Ryan Gertsmeier, Will Tobin and Shane Harris also had interceptions.
The Lions beat playoff teams Downers Grove North (7-2) and Wheaton Warrenville South (5-4) while losing to playoff-bound York, Glenbard West (7-2) and Prospect (7-2). They scored at least 17 points in five victories and allowed 17 points or fewer in seven games.
Stevenson was third in the North Suburban Conference behind Warren (7-2) and Lake Zurich (8-1), its two losses. The Patriots, who scored at least 24 points in six victories, beat 5-4 playoff qualifiers Lake Forest 24-13 and Libertyville 35-28.