Lyons Township football coach Jack Derning can keep the silver in his pocket for at least another week.
The Lions (5-2, 4-0) relied on its defense to deliver a 14-13 win over Glenbard West to remain perfect in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference on a cold and blustery afternoon.
"We are in first place right now and if we just keep winning and take care of ourselves, we can keep the silver I have in my pocket," Derning said. "We don't want to share it with Downers (North), Hinsdale, York or anybody else. That has been our motto the last couple weeks. We want to take pride in what we do at all times and keep the silver for ourselves."
Despite leading 14-0 at the half, LT watched helplessly as Glenbard West mounted an impressive second half comeback. The Hilltoppers began their surge with an 11-play offensive drive that was capped by quarterback Stephen Tompkins 10-yard TD run. The score also sparked the Hilltopper defense, forcing the Lions to punt on their ensuing possession. The Glenbard West offense then picked up where it left off, ending with an 8-yard TD catch by receiver Brandon Venson at the 11:21 mark in the fourth quarter. All the Hilltoppers needed was the point after to tie, but LT defensive back Stephen Grisko had a different idea.
"We went up 14 zip but then our defense allowed two big touchdowns," Grisko said. "We just had to create a momentum shifter. We called a double middle. Mike Barnum took his guy and moved him to the left and Scott Marik took his guy and moved him to the left and I just busted right through the hole. They made a great hole and I just ran in there and blocked the thing."
The block proved to be pivotal, invigorating the Lions defense for the duration of the fourth quarter. Although they had several opportunities, the Hilltoppers failed to find any cracks in the Lions defense. It was only fitting that LT linebacker Les Bates iced the game, picking off Tompkins with a minute remaining to ensure the victory.
"I was looking for the screen, but the running back didn't come into the flat," Bates said. "I then keyed on number one (Venson) because they had been throwing to him all day and I came underneath and picked it off. We had a great first half defensively, but they came out in the second half pretty fired up. They pounded on us for a little bit, but we firmed up when we had to and picked up the win. We knew how important this game was being Homecoming and we really did not want to lose."
The Lions opened the scoring courtesy of an 87-yard TD run by running back Neal Loftus in the first quarter. Loftus, however, suffered perhaps a season-ending injury in the second quarter. Casey McMurray added LT's second score on a 21-yard run in the second quarter. Loftus rushed six times for 119 yards, while McMurray had 38 yards on nine carries.
"We think Neal is out for the rest of the year? it looks like a broken collarbone," Derning said. "We have to go the hospital to make sure, but that is what it looks like. There is no doubt his injury will effect us. We will take it as a challenge, but we have a couple players that can help fill the void. Casey McMurray and Mike Bellisario will definitely have to step up and help share the load. Whether it's (Lucas) Gacek, (Tyrand)
Williams or (Alex) Larson, we will see how it goes this week and who will step up and rise to the challenge."
The Lions travel to 13-ranked Downers Grove North on Friday night (7:30 p.m.). The Trojans (6-1, 4-1) are coming off a 42-0 shellacking of Oak Park.