Given the physical disparities they faced in Thursday night’s Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Conference crossover game with Marian Catholic, the Leo Lions needed to bring their ‘A’ game to Chicago Heights to stand a chance.
Didn’t happen. The Spartans (2-0) were bigger, faster, stronger and deeper, rolling to a 55-21 victory behind a road-grader offensive line that enabled sophomore running back Tyler Lofton to amass 154 yards on 13 carries with six touchdowns, on runs of 25, 1, 13, 62, 2 and 5 yards.
Slick quarterback Kyle Thomas (13 carries, 71 yards) scored on a 2-yard run and hauled down a 7-yard TD pass from his backup, Carter Magerski.
Marian had 10 possessions and produced eight touchdowns, a missed field goal and an end-of-game kneeldown its only “failures.” The Spartans completed just one pass all evening, that coming in the fourth quarter, but why bother throwing when a running game is running up 300-plus yards and averaging 6.7 yards per play?
Then again, the four pass-interference calls that went against the Lions were as good as completions, resulting in 60 of the 100 penalty yards assessed to them. Factor in a litany of muffed kicks, bad snaps, missed tackles and three turnovers and it was an all-around bad experience on a deceptively pleasant late-summer evening.
And bad got worse with a Leo player’s accusation that a Marian opponent directed a racial slur at him.
With no running game to concern them—Leo had one net yard to show for seven carries—Spartan defenders were free to come full bore after sophomore quarterback Darion Lee, and they did. On the rare occasions he was given time to throw, Lee completed nine of 22 for 172 yards and TD passes of 33 yards to Merrick Sample and 22 yards to Kevin Jackson.
Matthew Harvey relieved the battered youngster in the fourth quarter and hooked up with Tim Durr for an 80-yard TD on a screen pass to complete the scoring.
Next for the Lions: Carmel of Mundelein, coached by former Chicago Bear Jason McKie, in another CCL/ESCC crossover game at St. Rita’s Cronin Field at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10. It has to be better.