FRANKFORT — The word of the week for Lincoln-Way East was respond.
After losing its second game of the season against Sandburg on Friday, Oct, 1, head coach Rob Zvonar repeated that word to his players ahead of its matchup against Homewood-Flossmoor on Friday night.
The Griffins (5-2) took that word to heart against the Vikings (4-3), putting together their most complete game of the season in a 24-6 win.
“Just an overall team effort,” Zvonar said. “Every unit, special teams defense, offense took turns making plays, each one took turns having a little adversity and everybody picked each other up. I’m very happy tonight. We had a long week.”
Lincoln-Way East quarterback Brennan Stolarek led the way for the offense, completing 10 of his 18 passes for 198 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The Griffins started the game strong when they drove 73 yards down the field, scoring on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Stolarek to Jayden Cook.
After holding on to a 7-0 lead at the half, the Lincoln-Way East offense got it going in the second half, scoring on its first drive for 53 yards and capping it with a 36-yard pass from Stolarek to Jack Tremblay.
The Vikings fumbled on their next drive, which allowed the Griffins to add a field goal to make it 17-0. Stolarek would add a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Jimmy Curtin.
“Early mistakes have defined some of the mistakes we have been in,” Vikings head coach Terrell Alexander said. “We can’t make the early mistakes, we need to fix those and it’s going to take us to fix it. No one can fix it for us.”
While the offense struggled for parts of the first half, the Griffin defense took over. Kamal Mukarram intercepted a pass with under a minute left in the first quarter. His was the first of three interceptions in the game for Lincoln Way East — fellow seniors Jon Guch and Jacob Peterson each picked off a pass.
The Griffin defense limited Viking quarterback Cameron Oglesby to one touchdown at the end of the third quarter and the Homewood-Flossmoor offense to 133 total yards in the game, building momentum for the rest of the team.
“The momentum from the defense,” Tremblay said of what got the offense going. “The defense was pounding them all game and that’s a huge momentum drive for us.”
Homewood-Flossmoor ends the regular season with games against Sandburg and Lincoln-Way West while the Griffins end the season with games against Lockport and Bradley-Bourbonnais. While it would be easy for Zvonar and his players to look at two close losses and wonder how close they could’ve been undefeated, the head coach wants his team focusing on that one word as they head down the stretch.
“We just continue to say respond and improve,” Zvonar said. “Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. We hadn;t put a complete game together and I think tonight was as close as we’ve come.”