WESTERN SPRINGS – Lyons Township has made a habit out of 5-4 playoff appearances recently.
The Lions made it three years in a row after edging past Proviso West 21-20 Friday. The Panthers didn’t make it easy for the Lions (5-4, 4-2 WSS) in their last chance to win a conference game this season.
West (2-7, 0-6 West Suburban Silver) led 20-14 in the fourth quarter before Tommy Fiedler’s 5-yard touchdown run gave LT the lead with 5:14 left, and the score held. The Lions’ reward is a trip to Gately Stadium to take on 6-3 Simeon in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs.
“I think we’re playing some pretty good football generally speaking,” LT coach Kurt Weinberg said. “To be honest, I’m not very pleased how we played Friday night overall, but the bottom line is we got the win. We played poorly and still won, so maybe that’s something we can hang our hat on.”
LT will be hoping the regular season record isn’t the only part of the trend that continues. The Lions have made the state quarterfinals each of the last three seasons, two of those times after going 5-4 in the regular season.
In Simeon, the Lions face a team with plenty of athletic ability and some gaudy statistics. However, with any Chicago Public League school, it’s difficult to tell just how good the Wolverines are because of the competition they faced.
The Wolverines went 6-0 against Chicago opposition in dominant fashion. In each of those games they scored over 40 points. On the defensive side they had four shutouts and allowed just a combined 19 points in those games.
On the flip side, Simeon began the season 0-3 after losing to Homewood-Flossmoor 27-13, Novi Central Catholic (Mich.) 35-13 and Crete-Monee 14-12.
“Initially they’re a very good team,” Weinberg said. “They always are. They’re very athletic and very fast. They have some skill players that can take it to the house at any time.”
Weinberg preached the importance of staying disciplined to avoid giving up big plays against Simeon’s game-breaking talent.
“In any playoff situation, since every team is a good team, you just got to limit your mistakes,” he said.
Should the Lions advance to the second round of the playoffs, they would face either O’Fallon or Neuqua Valley.
Lyons Township 21, Proviso West 20
Passing: Tommy Fiedler 14-for-24, 124 yards, TD
Rushing: Leonard Ross 21-114, TD
Playoff opener: Lyons Township at Simeon
When: 3:30 p.m Saturday
Where: Gately Stadium, 744 E. 103rd St., Chicago
Records: Lyons Township 5-4, Simeon 6-3
Outlook: For the third year in a row LT is in the playoffs with a 5-4 record. They draw Chicago Public League power Simeon. The Wolverines won the Illini Red Bird with a 5-0 record and won each of those games by 40 points or more, but when 0-3 against teams from outside Chicago.