Lisle ends 23-year drought vs. Wilmington
The boys on Lisle's football team will remember Friday night the rest of their lives.
For the first time since 1995 Lisle beat Wilmington. The Lions controlled the line of scrimmage while topping the 10-time defending Interstate Eight Conference Small Division champion 27-6 on Friday at Benedictine University in Lisle.
"This means everything, it's been a goal since Day One," said Lions offensive tackle and defensive end Charlie Waldusky, a three-year starter. "Every year we've gotten closer and I just thought all day that today was gonna be the day we did it."
Lisle had sliced the Wildcats' victory margin from 14 points to 6 to 3 the past three seasons. Friday, quarterback Jay McGrath's three 1-yard sneaks plus linebacker Brett Weber's 39-yard interception return for a touchdown with 32 seconds remaining turned the tables.
Lisle coach Paul Parpet Sr. had maintained this was just another game on the schedule. His players toed the party line, to a point.
"This is the biggest win I've ever been a part of," said McGrath, who ran for 51 yards and passed for 115. "It's awesome. And being in control, and the quarterback, it feels like it's just that much better. But Coach wants us to know that this is Game 3. We've got more than six more games left."
Lisle (3-0, 1-0) looked like a potential playoff team, holding Wilmington all-state wingback Connor Dempsay to minus-11 yards rushing on 13 carries. Most of the negative yardage came tracking down a bad snap for an 18-yard loss, one of 3 fumbles for the Wildcats (1-2, 0-1).
A Wilmington holding penalty also helped stall a successful first-quarter drive, the Wildcats' best scoring chance until Keaton Hopwood passed 10 yards to Dempsay for a touchdown with 3:10 to play to cut Lisle's lead to 21-6.
"My hat's off to Lisle," said Wilmington coach Jeff Reents. "Coach Parpet had his kids ready to go. We made too many mistakes against a good team tonight."
An apparent touchdown on Lisle's first series was negated by penalty, but the determined Lions went up on McGrath's 1-yard sneak at 8:02 of the first quarter. McGrath's kick for the 7-0 lead stood till halftime.
"Our front four, they controlled the game," Parpet said of defensive linemen Waldusky, Zach Zikuda, Michael Walker, Anthony Raineri and Kevin Paz. "Then we did some great things on offense, we possessed the ball a lot in the first half. Very happy."
Paz's key: "Go 100 percent every single play. No laying down."
Lisle scored on its first possession of the third quarter. McGrath's 58-yard pass to Kowal led to his second touchdown blast.
Walker's punt block to start the fourth quarter gave the Lions good field position. Demetrius King's 26-yard catch led to McGrath's third touchdown run and 21-0 lead with 8:25 left in the game.
Linebacker Nick Martich could have addressed his 8 tackles and 2 sacks. When time expired that wasn't much on his mind.
"I care that it's been 30 years or something like that since we last beat Wilmington as a varsity team," he said. "And the fact that me and our group of seniors were able to do it, that's just the best feeling in the world."