Lisle win gives it hopes of hosting
Lisle emphatically put the finishing touches on one of this season's biggest turnarounds as the Lions pounded Plano 24-7 in an Interstate Eight Conference crossover contest at Benedictine University on Friday night.
The win moved the Lions to 7-2 after they finished 1-8 last year and raised hopes that they would even be able to host a Class 3A first-round playoff game next week.
"The entire year we weren't seen as a threat, but we started putting in the work in the off-season," said senior receiver-defensive back Nick Massura, who suffered through last year's struggles.
"Then we had a big win against Aurora Central Catholic (50-6 in Week 2), got a few more wins, and now we're just rolling."
Hall of Fame coach Paul Parpet Sr., in his second season at the school, was more succinct when pinpointing the impetus for the reversal of fortunes.
"Players," he said. "It takes good players that buy into what you want to do, and I'm proud of my boys."
The Lions were in control of Friday's game from start to finish in posting the school's first defeat of the Reapers (7-2) since 2004.
The first quarter was scoreless, but ended with Lisle at the Plano 11. Mark McGrath booted a 28-yard field goal on the first play of the second frame for a 3-0 lead.
McGrath completions of 32 yards and 12 yards to Christian Grego and Josh Jamison, respectively, helped set up McGrath's 4-yard scoring run and a 10-0 lead.
Plano's lone score came 37 seconds later as Elijah Maisonet's 36-yard kickoff return led to Tyler Ward's 32-yard pass to Israel Aneoti and Jay Winter's 2-yard plunge that made it 10-7 at the half.
The second half was pure domination by the Lions as McGrath (30 carries, 122 yards) and Grant Haen (21 carries, 150 yards) consistently pounded the Reapers defense.
McGrath had 7 carries for 34 yards on an 11-play, 58-yard march that culminated with his 9-yard scoring pass to Grego. Then, on the third play of the fourth quarter, Haen burst 56 yards through the middle of the Plano defense to make it 24-7 and remove any suspense from the final 11 minutes.
"We went with it (the running game) and they didn't stop us so why not keep doing it?" McGrath said. "We just took it at them and pounded them."
Lisle's postgame talk was filled with plans for a pizza party as the team will gather to watch Saturday's playoff-pairing show.
"It feels amazing," said McGrath. "One of our goals was to get to the playoffs, and to get in commandingly at 7-2 instead of just squeaking in at 5-4 makes it even better."