By James Kay
Whether you are a state contender or building towards next season, every varsity football senior wants to win on homecoming. So when Lyons Township's varsity football team (2-3) blew out Proviso West (0-5) 48-0 on Sept. 28, there was a sense of relief coming from the Lions after not winning on homecoming the last few years.
"Going in, we knew this was a special weekend with the alumni and future LTHS kids here to support us," said senior wide receiver Sam Rodriguez. "This is a great win. Everybody played great on both sides of the ball and any time we do that it just feels great—especially on homecoming."
Defense turning into offense
While the whole team shined on cold, rainy Saturday afternoon, the LTHS defense had a day to remember. Anthony Georgelos led the team with six tackles (three of them for a loss), middle linebacker Leo Hangsterfer recorded five tackles and Jimmy Pouba followed with four tackles.
On both sides of the ball, Proviso couldn't stop the Lions up front. LTHS penetrated the Panthers' backfield and quarterback Max Uribe never had time to find open windows throughout the game. He only attempted two passes that went 20 or more yards through the air.
The highlight of the game came in the third quarter when LTHS had three straight pick-sixes. With four minutes left in the third quarter the Panthers tried to get it going on offense after LTHS turned the ball over on downs.
Instead, on the second play of the drive, Uribe took a wide snap, attempted to evade the Lions defense, and threw a pass into double coverage to Michael Dahill. He went untouched for a 35-yard touchdown with 3:16 remaining in the quarter.
On the next series, Uribe heaved the ball downfield into double coverage where Georgelos picked it off on the LTHS 40-yard line. Tiptoeing down the sideline, he went untouched for a 60-yard touchdown return to end the quarter.
Starting on his team's own 29-yard line, Uribe took a bad snap, moved to his left to avoid another sack, and ended up throwing an interception that was taken to the house by Pouba for 35 yards.
"I haven't seen anything like [the three pick sixes in a row] either," said head coach Dan Hartman after the game. "The defense has been playing well all year. We have been in every game and the main reason is because of them. It was really nice seeing them get those three pick sixes today."
Running in the Rain
While the weather made it tough for both quarterbacks to grip the football, the Lions were able to run through Proviso West's defense. LTHS quarterback Joey Antonietti completed five of 12 passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Matthew O'Connell led the team in carries (10) and had 27 yards on the ground to go along with a touchdown. Running back Olin White helped move the chains with 47 rushing yards on seven carries. Wide receiver Sam Rodriguez hauled in five catches for 87 yards and had two touchdowns in his final homecoming for the Lions.
"Our big thing was that we wanted to establish the run in the first half. We were able to do that," said Hartman. "We didn't execute a few balls that were thrown, but I feel like the offensive line continues to improve each week and they took another big step this week."
Lyons Township opened the scoring with a six-play drive that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown by O'Connell with 6:14 left in the first quarter. The Lions would quickly get the ball back after Proviso was called for intentional grounding on fourth and five. That set up an eventual play-action pass from Antonietti to Rodriguez for a one-yard touchdown.
Rodriguez found the end zone one last time in the third quarter when Antonietti hit him on a crossing route for a 20-yard TD.
When asked after the game if everyone should expect two-touchdown performances from him every time out the rest of the season, Rodriguez responded, "Ya know, I certainly hope so."
Lyons Township is slated to face Leyden on the road at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 4.