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Downers Grove

Football: Ross steps in at QB, guides Mustangs past Proviso East

Downers Grove South didn’t have a dependable backup quarterback last season, so when starter Matt Greenwald broke his leg the Mustangs went down with him.

That’s not the case this year.

Greenwald suffered another leg injury in the season opener, but junior George Ross has stepped in and played well in two appearances.

Ross completed 9 of 16 passes for 80 yards and the Mustangs rushed for 175 yards to beat Provison East 42-6 on Sept. 8 in the West Suburban Conference Gold Division opener in Downers Grove.

“We want Matt to be our starting quarterback,” Downers South coach Mark Molinari said. “We’re trying to get him healed up because we’ve got a tough road from here on out.

“But George did good. George has not turned the ball over yet. He’s been practicing all summer and he played the majority of the game last week (a 21-17 loss to Oak Park).”

Ross was the beneficiary of an opportunistic defense that forced three turnovers, including two blocked punts by defensive end Ali Issa, and gave the Mustangs great field position.

“Our defense gave us some very short fields so our numbers are not as gaudy as they probably could have been because we got the ball inside the 20 twice,” Molinari said. “Our team is really tackling well.”

Molinari was particularly pleased with the linebacking corps of Keiran Burke, Anthony Martinez and Keegan Garland, which smothered Proviso East’s offense. The Pirates (0-3, 0-1) did not score against Downers South’s first-string defense.

Kenton Johnson and Nathan Strelak each rushed for two touchdowns for the Mustangs (1-2, 1-0), who bounced back after playing well against Oak Park. Oak Park, a perennial playoff team, rallied from a 17-7 fourth-quarter deficit to win.

“Last week we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory,” Molinari said. “We had that game won and we didn’t finish, so this week we’ve been talking about finishing and I thought the kids did a good job on that.

“This team is a really hard-working team. They’ve been doing all the right things. I was happy for them to get rewarded.”

While there still is no timetable for Greenwald’s return, the Mustangs at least gained some confidence by winning without him.

“The kids were excited,” Molinari said. “Where we’ve been at the past couple years, any win is a good win.

“We act like we don’t care who we’re playing. We just want it to be about us and (Friday) night our kids did a good job of making it about us.”

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