Will Lake Park be as tall as the task?
When you're sitting on four losses, every football game is a playoff game.
That's where Lake Park sat last week, and the Lancers remain there after a thrilling 33-32 DuKane Conference victory over Glenbard North. Lake Park trailed 32-18 in the third quarter and closed the game with three straight touchdowns to break a three-game losing streak ... and remain alive for the postseason at 2-4.
"If we can win this week I think we've got a shot," said Lake Park coach Chris Roll. "But it's a tall task."
The "task" is a Friday trip to Wheaton Warrenville South (5-1, 3-1), which is coming off a cross-town win over Wheaton North. Lake Park needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive with Geneva (0-6) and St. Charles East (4-2) rounding out the schedule.
The key for Lake Park will be playing like it did in the second half against Glenbard North and avoiding the mishaps of the second quarter. The Lancers piled up 400 yards of offense, including about 150 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns by David Hardwick and about 150 passing yards from sophomore quarterback Nathanael Merchant in his first varsity start.
"We just stayed patient and knew we could come back and move the ball on them," Roll said. "We were able to hold on and win that one, and now we can only worry about Wheaton Warrenville South. We win that, we give ourselves another shot."
One for the books:
Earlier this week Lisle coach Paul Parpet Sr. cited two memorable overtime victories in his career, both while coaching at Addison Trail.
The first was an overtime win over Glenbard West in the early 1990s. The second was Addison Trail's 1997 Class 6A quarterfinal victory against Palatine, when his players convinced him to go for a 2-point conversion.
Parpet added a third game: Lisle's 24-21 overtime win over Reed-Custer last Friday to earn the outright Interstate Eight Conference Small Division title, the Lions' first conference football title since 1981.
Down by 14 points, Lisle (6-0, 4-0) scored twice in the last 4:35 on touchdown passes by Jay McGrath to Jakub Kowal to force overtime. After Lisle's defense held, McGrath kicked a game-winning field goal.
"It was awesome. Awesome," Parpet said. "The kids were phenomenal. There was no quit in them, there was no hanging the heads."
Lisle's many two-way starters hunkered down in the second half to hold Reed-Custer 13 points below its average. McGrath -- whom Parpet said "pulled a Brett Favre" on a scrambling 59-yard touchdown pass to Kowal -- intercepted a pass. So did Dylan Laue in his first game at cornerback since Week 1. Also due to injury Kowal played cornerback after one day of practice at the position.
"I told the kids before the game, this game is not 'special.' What's special is when you become a father, when you become a husband. I told them this is not special -- this is important," Parpet said.
His players repeated that mantra on the sideline throughout the game.
"It was a great night for Lisle," Parpet said.
Montini has many offensive weapons. Deontay Bell, Robert Brazziel, Nick Fedanzo, Jermari Harris, Nate Muersch, Zack Olson, Matt Ross and Scott West all factored into the Broncos' recent Chicago Catholic League Blue victories over St. Rita and Loyola.
Notable also has been the Broncos offensive line, credited for its depth by Broncos coach Mike Bukovsky before the season began. Montini (6-0, 2-0) used that depth the past two weeks to respond to injuries to two senior returning starters.
Against St. Rita, Montini lacked left guard Mike McNicholas, a Kent State commit. Against Loyola both McNicholas and starting center Gianni Alfano were out. McNicholas should return this week against Fenwick.
Jeremiah Banks-Wall, a junior and returning starter, has played every game at left tackle, Sophomore Colin Baker has done the same at right guard as has sophomore Dagan Miller at right tackle.
The lone senior on the line at Loyola was center Colin Considine, who also played against St. Rita on an eight-man line rotation. Sophomore Demond Butcher went the distance at left guard last week at Loyola.
Even without the 6-foot-4, 320-pound McNicholas, the line that faced Loyola averages 6-1 and 258 pounds.
As Benet knows all too well, nothing is easy in the East Suburban Catholic.
The Redwings (4-2, 2-2) just emerged from a brutal stretch of games against five teams with winning records, including back-to-back losses to Notre Dame and unbeaten Nazareth. They ended the brief losing streak with last week's critical 20-13 victory at Joliet Catholic as quarterback Colin Gillespie guided a 50-yard game-winning drive in the final 1 minute, 13 seconds.
"I was so pleased to see how we competed," said Benet coach Pat New. "We knew this was going to be a gauntlet for us, and coming off two losses we needed that win."
The Redwings did it by piecing together depleted lines. Defensive linemen Jack Benish, Jackson Stephens, Matt King and Luke Phillipp all spent time on the offensive line, with players like Benish and Stephens having to scramble for jerseys that had numbers conforming to rules about offensive linemen.
After facing five teams with a combined 23-6 record, Benet plays St. Viator and Marian Catholic -- teams with only 1 win combined. The Redwings hope to heal up and start a winning streak heading into a season finale against Marist (5-1, 4-0) and beyond.
"Under the circumstances it was just good to see us compete until the end like we did," New said.
Metea Valley brings momentum into Week 7 against Naperville North. The Mustangs moved people around to notch their first win, 28-21 on the road at Bradley-Bourbonnais.
Senior Julian Wlodarczyk did what he does best, execute a big play on a fourth-quarter jet sweep touchdown run of 39 yards followed by Colin Wilcox's successful 2-point conversion run.
For the first time Metea coach Ben Kleinhans can recall he had two backs over 100 yards rushing -- Wilcox with 114 and Elijah Wright with 116. Wright was featured much of the second half while Wilcox moved to linebacker, where he caused a fumble recovered by linebacker Jordan Willis that led to Wlodarczyk's go-ahead score.
Metea Valley (1-5, 0-1 DuPage Valley) used linebacker Jack Belskis as a blocking back on offense. Defensive end Conor Murphy pulled double-duty on the offensive line at left guard.
Kleinhans estimated that between offense, defense and special teams Murphy ran about 150 plays.
"He's just a machine," Kleinhans said. "He's just got a motor that's different from a lot of kids."
The only game in town:
DuPage County high school football on a Thursday? You bet.
In the midst of its homecoming week, Wheaton Academy (3-3, 0-3) will host Aurora Central Catholic in a Metro Suburban Blue contest at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.
"Aurora Central Catholic is great to accommodate it because it is an unusual request," said Wheaton Academy coach Brad Thornton.
At Wheaton Academy, the climax of homecoming week traditionally is a Friday boys soccer game and a fireworks display, Thornton said. If scheduled at home that week, the football team usually plays on Saturday.
Thornton stressed there's no tension or conflict between football and soccer. He said soccer gets the marquee slot because of its "deeper history at Wheaton Academy than football."
That's hard to argue considering the Warriors boys soccer team has won 12 regional titles and owns five state trophies since 2005, including the 2014 Class 2A title. It entered Wednesday with a record of 16-1.
The football team won't be able to blame homecoming festivities for a flat start.
"We're going to see what happens," Thornton said of the Thursday game. "I think it's going to be a fun night."
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