LOCKPORT – With a slew of starters graduating from last season’s Class 8A state championship squad, the Lockport football team didn’t quite know what to expect coming into this season.
In the end, the Porters knew they had improvements to make but were happy.
Seniors Hyatt Timosciek and Giovani Zaragoza both scored a pair of touchdowns and Lockport’s defense settled in. It all added up to a 28-6 victory over an improved Joliet West team in the season opener Friday night.
“We’re happy with the victory but we have a lot to clean up,” Lockport coach George Czart said. “Joliet West gave us all we could handle. There was some good hitting going on out there.”
There was, and unfortunately for the Porters (1-0), late in the first half, starting senior quarterback Brady Pfeiffer was a victim of one of the hits. After completing a 27-yard pass to Timosciek on fourth-and-23, Pfeiffer (9-of-15, 134 yards, 1 TD) went out with an injured shoulder on the next play. He was going to get X-rays after the game.
Enter Drew Gallagher at quarterback.
The junior tossed a 19-yard TD pass to Timosciek (5 catches, 96 yards) in the left corner on third-and-15. That gave the Porters a 21-6 lead with only 44.3 seconds left in the second quarter, and that held up for the halftime score.
“That was a perfect ball the Brady threw, he couldn’t have put it in a better place,” Timosciek said of the fourth-and-23 play. “Brady will be OK, but we were able to get used to both quarterbacks coming in a game.
“I thought it was a great win. We need to learn from it, but it was the first game and I thought we did a good job.
Timosciek also caught a 26-yard TD pass from Pfeiffer in the right corner for a 14-0 lead with 10:22 left in the first half.
Zaragoza (31 carries, 168 yards) was the workhorse for the Porters. He capped a 12-play, 92-yard drive by plowing in from two yards out to open the scoring midway through the first quarter. He later capped the scoring by zipping through the line, breaking out of a tackle and darting 62 yards for a touchdown with 2:52 left in the third quarter.
“Giovani is a stud,” Czart said. “But he’s going to be sore tomorrow.”
That’s just fine with Zaragoza.
“It’s just fun being out there with my guys, and I’m having fun out there,” he said. “That [third-quarter touchdown] all happened because of my blocks.
“I thought we got the jitters out. It was a fun game. We all worked hard and had a learning experience.”
The Tigers (0-1) were working hard, too, but couldn’t quite make enough plays. Senior quarterback Carl Bew (16-of-33 with an interception for 151 yards passing, 19 carries for 62 yards rushing, with a TD), a transfer from Joliet Central, scored the team’s touchdown on a 3-yard run with 7:59 left in the first half. The extra point was wide, leaving the score at 14-6.
Joliet West then recovered an onside kick and drove to a fourth-and-2 situation at the Lockport 9, but a pass was knocked away by Lockport senior Joey Manzo with 5:08 left in the first half. Manzo, one of the two starters back from last season’s state title team, also had an interception at his own 8 to thwart the Tigers’ first drive.
“We were giving up a few more yards than we wanted to and they tried to hit a post route, but I went up and beat the wide receiver to the ball,” Manzo said. “Their quarterback was a good scrambler.
“I’m satisfied with the win, but not all that transpired. But we’re going to grow and get better.”
Joliet West believes it will do that, too.
“George Czart is an amazing coach, and I think we had one of the toughest opening games in the state,” said first-year Joliet West coach Daniel Tito, who spent the previous 12 seasons as an assistant for the Tigers. “Carl [Bew] has great athleticism, but he’s also an excellent leader and a captain out there.
“Even though we didn’t get the win, I thought we got some wins as a team.”