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With seven straight state playoff appearances under coach John Lalor, Class 1A football power Alden-Hebron came into its season opener in Arlington Heights with quite the reputation.
The Giants didn't disappoint as they rolled to a 55-0 victory over Christian Liberty Academy on Saturday afternoon.
"They're a great team," said Chargers coach Jim Calkins. "A lot of juniors and three-year varsity players. We are heavy on sophomores and a lot of first-year players."
But a couple of veterans gave the hosts a little momentum heading into next week.
Running behind junior Steve Koch, sophomore Emilio Mondragon, freshman Nick Salmonson, freshman Matt Glad and freshman Aaron Cunningham, senior Mike Wood raced 13 yards to Giants '42-yard line with less than two minutes to play.
That gave the Chargers their second first down of the contest.
Three plays. later, senior David Sotomayor scampered 40 yards around left end before being tackled out of bounds at the Giants' 17-yard line as time expired.
It was only the second time the Chargers had gotten into Hebron territory.
"Hopefully, those last few plays sparked some emotions for us," Sotomayor said. "We've just got to keep working together and think blocking low, which we worked on all summer.
"We need to practice our blocking and get our routes down," Wood added. "It's not very fair to our quarterback (sophomore Jonathon Dulinsky) because they were firing through the line before he could get the ball off."
Hebron senior Tyler Henken was firing through his holes all afternoon, rushing for 148 yards (4 shy of his career-high) on 16 carries while scoring 4 touchdowns.
He ran for TDs of 5, 51 and 4 yards and caught a 20-yard TD pass from sophomore Bryce Lalor, the coach's son, also a basketball and baseball player at Hebron.
"Those boys (Chargers) have come a long way," said Hebron coach John Lalor, a graduate of the school. "They are in better shape. They hit harder. It's hard when you start up a program like they did last year. But they are going to get there."
The Giants had quite a few fans who made the 75-minute drive to Arlington Heights.
"He (John Lalor) is a class act," Calkins said. "Their whole team is a class act. They are very disciplined and very nice guys all around."
Bryce Lalor threw only 3 passes. Two were for TDs and one was picked off by sophomore Shawn Andersen.
"That interception by Shawn was nice," Calkins said. "Mike Wood (outside linebacker) made some nice tackles and David Sotomayor is always a hard hitter. We've got him at safety but he could be a linebacker."