HINSDALE – Lyons Township is following a familiar rhythm that irritates coach Kurt Weinberg.
The past two years the Lions were 2-3 through five games and managed to make the playoffs at 5-4. This fall, LT again started 2-3 and needed a win at Hinsdale Central Saturday to revitalize its playoff hopes.
The Lions got it in a big way, winning 35-14 in a game they led 35-7 at halftime. LT is 9-1 in October since 2011.
"I hate it with a passion," Weinberg said of the slow starts. "Obviously we’re proud of how we finish the season, but we’re equally disappointed at how we start it. We've got to get better. We've got to figure out what the ebb and flow of that is and fix it. Obviously we want to keep the positive finish, but we've just got to get better in the beginning.”
Not only did the Lions pick up the crucial win, which came with the added bonus of doing it on the home field of their rivals on their homecoming, but they practically had the game won before halftime.
A touchdown pass from Tommy Fiedler to Connor Pavletic with 27 seconds left in the first half gave LT a 35-7 lead at the half. After Fiedler threw an interception on the first play of the game and Hinsdale scored on the ensuing drive, it was all LT.
“We were firing on most of our cylinders," Fiedler said. “I think we just realized that this is the time. We can’t wait any longer. We’ve had a habit of coming off in a slow start to the season and then finishing strong. I think the young guys, the juniors especially, have realized how to win and how to get the job done.”
With Fiedler's quick-hitter passing game to big targets Marcell Kellum and Matt Mrazek working and with Leonard Ross breaking off big runs, it's easy to see why the offense is averaging 29 points per game this season. The difference now is that the defense has given up just two scores in each of the past two games.
“We’re just hitting our stride defensively," Weinberg said. "We’re starting to figure out the things that we do well. We’re capitalizing a little bit on our speed. Obviously Hinsdale is a team that’s huge, big and strong, but I think trying to accentuate our speed a little bit defensively has really helped.”
The Lions face Oak Park-River Forest in a tough homecoming game on Saturday. The Huskies are 5-1 and just hung with defending West Suburban Silver champ Glenbard West in a 20-14 loss. Even if LT isn't able to beat the Huskies, more winnable games against York and Proviso West ahead would be enough to get the Lions in the playoffs.
Lyons Township 35, Hinsdale Central 14
Passing: Tommy Fiedler 12-for-16, 171 yards, 2 TDs
Rushing: Leonard Ross 16-130, 3 TDs
Receiving: Marcell Kellum 5-107, TD; Matt Mrazek 4-45
Week 7: Lyons Township vs. Oak Park River Forest
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bennett Field, 4900 Willow Springs Rd., Western Springs
Records: Lyons Township 3-3 (2-1 WSS), Oak Park River Forest (5-1, 3-1 WSS)
Outlook: LT has pulled off another turn around with back-to-back quality wins and now faces a strong team on homecoming. The Huskies are coming off their first loss of the season, 20-14 against Glenbard West. The 20 points are the most OPRF has allowed this fall. The Huskies are allowing 10 points per game.