By Dan McGrath

Leo has been “running clocked” often enough in the last few years that the Lions might be excused for savoring the experience of being on the other side.

But a 49-2 thumping of Walther Christian Academy in Melrose Park on Friday, in which a full three quarters were played with the clock moving after Leo seized a 42-0 first-period lead, was more about declining participation than dominant play.

The host Broncos barely had 20 kids in uniform, and according to the program, seven of them were freshmen. They were totally overmatched against a Catholic League competitor that has hardly been a powerhouse, and according to a member of the chain gang who has a son on the team, there is sentiment within the school community to drop football and embrace soccer. 

Too late to avoid this spanking. 

“Just try to play everybody and not get anybody hurt,” Coach Marques Stevenson said after the Lions improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2013.

Indeed, Leo subs were in the game from the second quarter on. By then sophomore Jaivon Dale had scored on a 64-yard punt return and an 86-yard run; junior Marshawn Durr had scored on 16- and 44-yard runs, sophomore Chase Jordan had brought an interception back 66 yards; sophomore Camren Collins turned a kick that Walther failed to cover into a touchdown … you get the idea. Various stretches of the game resembled a walkthrough.

But no more. The Lions are back on the road next week, traveling to Aurora to face Marmion Academy, a far more credible opponent with a 1-1 record after losing to Maine West 14-13 and drilling Curie 40-0 in nonconference play.

Leo has yet to beat the Cadets since the Catholic League-East Suburban Catholic Conference merger turned them into semi-regular opponents in 2019.  Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Marmion’s Fichtel Field.