DOWNERS GROVE – Downers Grove South’s football team set a slew of goals before the season, and the Mustangs scratched a pair of them off the list with Friday’s win over Hinsdale South.
South secured its first playoff berth since 2011 with a 34-7 victory. The win also capped an undefeated run through the West Suburban Gold conference for the Mustangs, their first conference title since 2010.
“The last four years I’ve been training with these seniors, and this is what we strive to achieve – to make the playoffs,” senior running back Alec Arvanitakis said.
“It feels great. We came a long way from the beginning of the season,” senior wide receiver Javon Turner said. “We had to fight in a lot of our games. It’s just a blessing [to be back in the playoffs].”
South (6-3 overall, 6-0 WSG) scored 21 points in the second quarter to take control of the game. Arvanitakis scored on a 9-yard screen pass to open the scoring, and Turner broke off an 81-yard touchdown on the Mustangs’ next possession. Arvanitakis powered in from 2 yards out just before halftime as the home team led 21-0 at intermission and was well on the way to grabbing the conference title.
“Our goal from the beginning of the year was to be conference champs,” head coach Mark Molinari said. “We hadn’t done it for two years and that was our No. 1 goal. If you’re conference champs, you’re in the playoffs, so obviously that was part of it, too.”
The Mustangs led 34-0 late in the game thanks to an Arvanitakis 6-yard run and Le’Devin Smith’s 31-yard scoring scamper.
The Hornets scored a late touchdown to erase the shutout, but it didn’t sour South’s celebration.
In addition to winning conference and locking up a playoff berth, the Mustangs also captured the Rebel Canon, the trophy that goes to the winner of the Hinsdale South-Downers Grove South game.
“This is coach [Molinari’s] first year and we wanted to do something special, and we gave him the trifecta in the last game of the regular season,” Arvanitakis said.
A little less than 24 hours after the win, the Mustangs learned they will travel to Naperville Central in the Class 8A playoff opener at 7 p.m. Friday.
They will have their hands full with the Redhawks, who topped the DuPage Valley Conference in scoring with 325 points.
They scored 30 or more points six times and topped 50 points three times.
“We’re excited to be back in the playoffs,” Molinari said. “We’re excited for people to be talking about Downers Grove South again, and I think we have a good group of kids who deserve this.”