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By Randy Whalen
After finishing second in the state at 138 pounds in Class 3A on June 26 at the Illinois Wrestling Coaches And Officials Association State Tournament, Keegan Roberson seemed to have his mind made up.
"I'm not playing football," he said shortly after the state finals. "I'm looking for a D-1 wrestling scholarship."
Roberson is still looking for that D-1 wrestling scholarship. But he's also doing something else. He's playing football for Lockport Township.
Last Friday, Sept. 24, Roberson had a season-high eight receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown as the Porters pummeled Sandburg 42-0 before the Eagles Homecoming crowd in a SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue Division matchup in Orland Park.
With the victory, Lockport (5-0, 2-0) moved a win away from clinching its first playoff berth since 2016. It was the fourth shutout in five games for the Porters, who have outscored their opponents 196-7.
After limiting their previous two opponents to a combined 24 points, the Eagles (1-4, 0-2) surrendered 33 points in the first quarter.
Hayden Timosciek fired four touchdown passes and threw for a season-high 309 yards as Lockport scored early and often. The first of his touchdown passes was a 21-yard strike to Roberson just 2:40 into the game.
Roberson, who is now a senior, is a wide receiver but also usually carries the ball at least a couple of times per game. Is he glad he's decided to come out for football and experience this special season?
"It's awesome just to be part of this great team," Roberson said. "There was no letup (against Sandburg), there never is."
On the game's opening drive, a 7-play, 80-yard march, Roberson caught four passes for 46 yards including the TD. He added three carries for 34 yards in the game. What got him to decide to come back for football?
"I was at work and the guys all group texted me," Roberson said of a day at the beginning of July. "They all wanted me back. I had to make sure it was OK with my club wrestling team and I wouldn't be missing any big tournaments and it was.
"We've been playing together ever since we were kids. This is a talented class and there's more of them after us. I'm just proud of all the guys."
Lockport coach George Czart is certainly happy Roberson decided to come back.
"Keegan is a very neat and quality kid," Czart said. "He's got strength, quickness, and good hands. This shows we're not a one-man team. We have more than one guy (at wide receiver)."
Timosciek was 6-for-6 passing for 78 yards on the opening drive, which had one run, a 2-yard carry by him. The senior completed his first eight passes in the game and now has 13 touchdowns with no interceptions on the season.
"Just spreading the love," said Timosciek, who threw his four touchdown passes to four different receivers. "The game plan was just to move the ball, score, and do this as many times as possible."
That's exactly what the Porters did as they went 66 yards in five plays on their next drive, which was capped by a 2-yard TD burst from senior Ty Schultz for a 13-0 lead with 5:46 left in the first quarter.
A second straight three-and-out forced the Eagles to punt, which proved costly for them. That's because Ethan Gallagher swooped in and blocked the punt sending the ball back toward the end zone. That's where fellow senior Danny Martisek fell on it for a touchdown with 5:18 to play in the first quarter. The extra point was good by sophomore kicker Nathan Blazewski, who was kicking in place of senior Gabe Czako, a 3-sport athlete who was held out with a minor injury.
"That was my second one of the year," said Gallagher, who later added his second interception of the season, of blocking the punt. "I just rush in, see the open field, and my eyes light up when I see the football."
Coming off a 22-0 victory against host Homewood-Flossmoor the week before, there was no letdown for Lockport.
"We don't believe in letdowns," Gallagher said. "We just come out every game and show what we've got. (Offensive coordinator Mark) Doran said in our pregame speech that the word for this game is 'intensity.' we had that and we couldn't have drawn it up any better."
"Coach told us, 'all gas and no breaks, we're not stopping,'" Timosciek said. "I was going big in the first quarter and then just role right through the game."
He kept rolling by completing a screen pass to senior running back Andrew LoPresti, who picked up an awesome block by junior tight end Hyatt Timosciek (Hayden's younger brother) and raced 68 yards for a touchdown and a 27-0 lead with 3:54 to play in the first quarter. It was the Porters third touchdown in less than two minutes.
Following an interception by junior defensive back Joey Manzo, Lockport added another one just over two minutes later. That's when Hayden Timosciek found senior Ryan Little (4 receptions for 50 yards) on a 15-yard TD pass. It was the fifth straight game that Little has caught a touchdown pass and it made the score 33-0 with 1:41 left in the opening quarter.
"We've got to be able to take advantage of throwing the ball to loosen up the run," said Czart, whose team passed 21 times and ran 11 times in the first half. "Hayden is a talented kid and we have talented receivers. This just shows we're a well-balanced team."
For the second straight game, the Porters opponent had a bad snap on a punt and saw the ball go out of the back of the end zone for a safety. This one came with 4:06 left in the second quarter and made the score 35-0.
Lockport, however, fumbled the ensuing free kick, for its first turnover of the season. The Eagles reward for recovering the ball at the Lockport 45? An incomplete pass, senior running back Jake Maziarka losing six yards on the next play and going out of the game after aggravating an injured hip, and junior quarterback Christian Evans getting sacked for a 4-yard loss by senior defensive lineman Andrew Blackburn-Forst.
So Sandburg punted and the Porters got the ball back at their own 31. Four plays later Timosciek dumped that pass off to Michael Doneske, and the junior fullback rumbled 66-yards down the left sideline for a touchdown with 1:40 left in the half.
Gallagher added his interception to end the half and the 42-0 score held up as the halftime score and also for the rest of the game. The second half was played with a running clock and junior Giovani Zaragoza finished as the Porters leading rusher with six carries for 49 yards, all in the second half.
Both teams had opportunities to score in the second half. A Brady Pfeiffer to Hyatt Timosciek 31-yard pass got Lockport got to the Eagles eight midway through the third quarter. But the Porters fumbled the ball away on the next play for their first offensive turnover of the season. Sandburg had a first-and-goal at the Porter three in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter but fumbled as well and junior linebacker Jake Duval recovered it.
Evans was 13-of-30 with a pair of interceptions for 122 yards for the Eagles, who finished with 160 total yards, 110 of those in the second half. As always, the Lockport defense was steller, including senior linebacker Dylan Schmutzler registering a 2-yard tackle for loss on the Eagle's second play from scrimmage.
Plus the Porters did all that on defense without one of their top players. That was senior defensive lineman Cole Silzer, who felt terrible all week leading up to the game with a bad case of gastritis. He was feeling better and in attendance but not in uniform.
But there were no excuses for the Porters.
"That's what we talked about, that we had business to take care of," Czart said. "We can't have a letdown. We just want to get better every day so it's hard for us to imagine a letdown. We are going to give our all, give a full effort, and show that we're pretty good."
Lockport will get to show the home crowd just how good it is this Friday, Oct. 1 with a 6:30 PM kickoff in a SWSC crossover against Lincoln-Way West. It's also Homecoming so it will be packed as past and present Porter Nation should be out in force to see one of their best football teams in school history.
By Randy Whalen
Coming off its biggest win in years, the Lockport Township football team has to guard against a letdown.
Probably the best way to do that is to play Sandburg.
That's what the Porters will do this Friday as they travel to Orland Park to face a school that, because of the proximity to Homer Glen, has become an arch-rival over the years.
Lockport (4-0, 1-0) enters off a strong 22-0 blanking of host Homewood-Flossmoor last week, while the Eagles (1-3, 0-1) lost 24-6 to undefeated Bolingbrook as both opened play in the Blue Division of the SouthWest Suburban Conference.
"They pay good defense," Lockport coach George Czart said of the Eagles. "They're not a bad team. I know their record isn't where they want it to be but they are physical.
"We're not going to be overconfident or anything. But our kids are focused and ready. We plan to keep it that way."
Just like Lockport in the last decade, the Eagles have had some tough times. They last had a winning season in 2015, also the last time they qualified for the IHSA playoffs. Their most recent postseason victory came in 2010.
Also, just like the Porters, Sandburg turned to an established coach to take over the program and return it to prominence. That is Troy McAllister, who had a historic 11-year run at Phillips that included undefeated state titles in Class 4A in 2015 and in 5A in 2017 - the first two in Chicago Public League history
The Eagles offense is led by junior quarterback Christian Evans, who had a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jake Maziarka that clinched their only win of the season, a 12-0 victory on Sept. 10 over Andrew. Senior Sanad Alshubak who hit a pair of field goals in the game as well and also had two field goals in the loss to Bolingbrook is able to put points on the board for a team that hasn't scored many. Sandburg has 32 points in its first four games.
The defense, however, has kept Sandburg in the game. There was the shutout of Andrew and 23 and 24 points given up to undefeated teams, Glenbrook South and Bolingbrook. Seniors Nathan Gibbons, Joe Shelton, and Alex Szczesniak lead the Eagle defense.
The Lockport senior-dominated offense of quarterback Hayden Timosciek who once again connected with wide receiver Ryan Little for two TDs in last week's win, and running backs Andrew LoPresti and Ty Schultz, has to be ready.
So does the defense, which usually gets accolades for its front four of Andrew Blackburn-Forst, Paul Rasp, and Cody and Cole Silzer. But linebackers and fellow seniors, Ethan Gallagher and Dylan Schmutzler have also been huge. So has the secondary as seniors Nicky Franciskovich and Shane McEntee added interceptions against H-F.
The Vikings had 19 plays go for zero or negative yards.
"Yes our defense was physical and played very well against H-F," Czart said. "But another big thing is that Hayden did a great job punting the ball and pinning them deep. We had a lot of short fields."
Timosciek's great punts pinned the Vikings deep and the defense took over, forcing a third-quarter safety on a bad snap. Schultz then slammed in from five yards out to cap the scoring in the 22-0 win.
"Our ball control and holding onto the ball has been a key," Czart said. "They just go hand-in-hand and allows our defense to stay off the field.
Last week's big win, their first over H-F since 2009, got the Porters noticed on the field.
"Yes, I think anytime you beat a ranked opponent like that, it lets you get noticed," Czart said of beating H-F. "Especially with the record ( Between 2010-19, they were 94-24, including 76-14 in the regular season with 10 straight playoff appearances and finished as Class 8A runner-up in 2014) they've had in the last decade."
Czart says the Porters, "Hope to shut everyone out," In the spring season they shutout Sandburg 23-0 on March 26, and so far this fall they nearly have, outscoring their opponents 154-7. This begs the question, is this the best defense Czart, who was the defensive coordinator for the state champion teams, has ever coached?
"It's hard to tell this early," Czart said. "But up to this point, the results of the games say that. But to be fair, we will wait until the end of the season."
Friday night's game is one of just two this season (Metea Valley was the other one) where the sophomore game is before the varsity. The sophomore kickoff is scheduled for 5 while the varsity will follow at approximately 7:30 PM.
By Randy Whalen
Maybe now they'll believe.
"I've been telling people we're a pretty good team," Lockport Township football coach George Czart said. "Maybe now people will believe in us."
They certainly should since the Porters went out and once again dominated on defense and had a very workmanlike 22-0 victory over Homewood-Flossmoor on Friday night, Sept. 17 in the SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue Division opener for both teams in Flossmoor.
"We proved to the whole conference that we are a baller in this league," Lockport defensive lineman Andrew Blackburn-Forst said. "We are the most aggressive team in the state."
That showed in the fact that 19 of the Vikings (3-1, 0-1) plays went for zero or negative yards. Blackburn-Forst had a sack and five tackles for loss. Cole Silzer had a pair of sacks and he and his twin brother Cody were in on numerous tackles at the defensive line. Dylan Schmutzler had a sack and he and fellow senior linebacker Ethan Gallagher were in on numerous tackles.
In the secondary, seniors Nicky Franciskovich and Shane McEntee added interceptions as the Porters (4-0, 1-0) defeated Homewood-Flossmoor for the first time since 2009, ending a 12 game (including a second-round playoff loss in 2011) losing steak to H-F.
The 4-0 start is the best for a Lockport team since the undefeated regular season in 2004. The Porters have outscored their opponents 154-7 so far this season and, dating back to the last two games of the 2019 season, they have now won 10 of their last 12 games.
"This shows we're a top-tier team," senior wide receiver Ryan Little said. "People doubted us but our mindset this season is different. We're not letting up."
Little wears a different number (4) on his road jersey than the one (2) on his home jersey. That had some reporters, who weren't familiar with the team asking who number 4 was? They know now.
"I guess they didn't have a number 2 in the white (away) jersey because they never got the previous one back," Little laughed at the number confusion. "They were supposed to order another one in white but I don't know what happened. So I just wear 4 on the road."
People should know who little is now as he's been Lockport's leading receiver since the second week. Through the first four games, he has 15 receptions for 242 yards and six touchdowns. He's caught at least one TD pass in every game, including two against H-F.
"All thinks to this guy," Little said as he nodded to fellow senior Hayden Timosciek. "If I didn't have a quarterback like this, it wouldn't happen."
The theme of the game was set right away. The Vikings had a four-yard loss on their opening play from scrimmage. But then connected on a 21-yard pass play from junior quarterback Cameron Oglesby to senior Jyles Walton on the second. That, however, was H-F's biggest play of the day and one of its 13 first downs in the game.
The Vikings went backward from there and had to punt from their own 23. Junior Joey Manzo returned the punt 25 yards to the H-F 30 as the Porters had good field position. They took advantage of that as Timosciek (7-for-17, 100 yards. 2 TDs. NO INT) tossed his first TD pass to Little (4 receptions for 72 yards. 2 TDs) from five yards out on the left side. Senior Gabe Czako added the extra point and Lockport led 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
A trio of shifts by the offensive line resulted in the Vikings jumping offside three times in the opening Lockport drive and the five-yard scoring pass was the Porter's longest of their seven plays in the march.
Midway through the second quarter, another nice punt return by Manzo set Lockport up at the Viking 17. On third and goal from the nine, Timosiek fired a perfect pass to Little in the left corner and it was 14-0 with 4:39 to play in the half. That held up for the halftime score.
"The first one I just went up and caught it," Little said. "The second one was a beautiful ball, right over the defensive back, and I was able to get it."
The pair have a special connection that goes back a few years.
"I really think it's just playing with each other for years," Timosciek said of connecting with Little. "He's my red zone guy, I just throw it.
"It was big to go up 7-0 because our defense is spectacular. I wish we could have put up 40 plus points again (the Porters scored 41, 48, and 43 in their first 3 games) but it feels good to know the defense can put up that zero."
The defense did that for their third shutout of the season. In order to do that, the Porters had to turn away a huge threat in the second quarter. H-F put together its best drive, holding the ball for seven minutes, picking up five first downs and going from its own 15 to a first-and-10 at the Lockport 12.
Then, on a third-and-11 play from the 13, senior strong safety Nicky Franciskovich intercepted Oglesby's pass in the end zone for a drive-thwarting touchback.
"We were in man coverage on the pick my guy stayed in to block and I read the quarterback's eyes and picked it off," Franciskovich "Our defense is dominant we all have been playing together for all while we have good chemistry together."
That has shown all season.
"That was a big interception and it really helped," Czart said of Franciskovich's pick. "I'm excited, it's a great win. We played very physically against a physical team. We have to keep showing it so people believe."
There was lightning detected right at the end of halftime that delayed the second-half kickoff by 30 minutes. But when it did kick off the Porters picked up where they left off. Following a Blackburn-Forest sack, H-F faced a fourth-and-20 from its four on its first possession of the third quarter. The Vikings went to punt but the ball bounced in and rolled right through the punter's legs and out of the end zone for a safety. Lockport led 16-0 with 8:28 to play in the third quarter.
The field position game continued after that as the Vikings were pinned deep on their next possession and punted. The Porter's started their next drive at the H-F 12. Even a penalty for aiding the runner as Timosciek tried to score from the one, couldn't stop them. Two plays later, senior Ty Schultz (10 carries for 15 yards, TD) barreled in from five yards out for a 22-0 Lockport lead with 4:18 left in the third quarter.
Lockport was limited to 83 yards rushing but didn't need any more with the field position. Senior running back Andrew LoPresti finished with 13 carries for 48 yards.
H-F had no first downs on three third-quarter possessions and were limited to five in the second half. They had a trio of first downs in a final last-ditch drive at the end as the Porters substituted. But fittingly on the last play of the game, from the Lockport 38, McEntee snared an interception.
"We stayed loose," Blackburn-Forest said of the lightning delay. "We came out in the third quarter and we were still loose. We just kept playing well and this was a fun game. It's the first time Lockport has been 4-0 since 2004."
That was also the last time the Porters were conference champs. The league games continue this Friday with a matchup at Sandburg. It's a doubleheader with the sophomore game at 5 PM and the varsity one at approximately 7:30.
By Randy Whalen
These are the ones you look forward to.
When the Lockport Township football team visits Homewood-Flossmoor on Friday night it's not only the opening game of the Blue Division in the SouthWest Suburban Conference, it's a matchup of two undefeated teams who are ranked in the Top 25 in the Chicago area.
H-F is also ranked No. 9 in Class 8A in the latest statewide poll, while the Porters are in the "others" and essentially tied for 12th.
"I'm ready," Lockport coach George Czart said. "We weren't looking past the first three games but this is one of the teams that beat us (in the spring season). So we want to get back on the field and show our improvement. They're a different team and so are we."
Lockport traveled to Flossmoor to open the spring season and fell to the Vikings 41-14. The Porters rebounded from that to finish with a 4-2 record while H-F, which didn't play its last two games because of COVID, finished 2-2.
That was the first non-winning season for the Vikings since 2009. Between 2010-19, they had a 94-24 record, including 76-14 in the regular season. They had 10 straight playoff appearances and finished as Class 8A runner-up in 2014.
H-F also has a 12-game winning streak against the Porters, including a second-round playoff win in 2011. Lockport's last win in the series was 27-6 in 2009.
All of those were with Craig Buzea as head coach. But he has now the head coach at Crown Point, Indiana. Terrell Alexander, who was an assistant coach at H-F for 10 years before leaving in 2011 to take the head coaching job at Rich Central, is now the head coach.
Through three games, the Vikings and Lockport are not only both 3-0, both have an amazing point disparity. The Porters have outscored their opponents 132-7 while H-F has outscored its opponents 112-8, including a 44-2 win over visiting Lincoln-Way Central last week.
"Offensively they have some big offensive linemen," Czart said of the Vikings. "I believe four of their five linemen are over 300 pounds. The guys at running back are fast and elusive. On defense, they are fast to the ball. They are a solid team and I wouldn't expect anything else."
The H-F running attack is paced by seniors Kyle Lawson and Jaedyn Price along with junior Kamrin Cox. Myles Walton is a senior wide receiver and his twin brother, Jyles Walton, is a top defensive back. Khadari Kurns is another senior defensive back that is also looked to. Seniors Malyk Jones at linebacker and Justin Thomas at defensive end have also come up big.
The Porters defense has obviously been a strong suit. Upfront, seniors Drew Balckburn-Forst, Paul Rasp, and twins Cody and Cole Silzer have terrorized offenses. But in last week's 43-7 win over visiting Bradley-Bourbonnais, the secondary was huge too. Senior Danny Martisek, who also had two receptions, had a pair of interceptions. Juniors Troy Mutz and Jacob Duval also joined the pick party.
Offensively, Lockport was boosted by the return of Ty Schultz at running back. He had 10 carries for 60 yards and two touchdowns in his first game back from an ACL injury, which sidelined him in the spring. He and fellow senior Andrew LoPresti, should form quite a tandem the rest of the season. Toss in junior Giovani Zaragoza and you have a triple-ground threat for the Porters.
Quarterback Hayden Timosciek didn't have to do much in the last game, finishing 11-of-19 for 128 yards. But he still threw for a touchdown, to fellow senior Ryan Little (4 receptions for 76 yards) and ran for another.
While it was inevitable that the Porters would give up a touchdown at some point, as they did to Bradley-Bourbonnais in the third quarter last Friday, what was bothered Czart were the penalties that led up to it. Lockport knows it can't have that against the Vikings.
"What I was disappointed with was our penalties and lack of discipline," Czart said. "We had moments of a lack of mental focus. We'd jump offside or make another error. We know what we are supposed to do, we just have to do it."
But there has been plenty to like in the team's first 3-0 start since the last playoff appearance in 2016.
"I like how physical we play," Czart said. "Even when the execution or discipline hasn't been there, I've liked our physical play. There's been no letdown in our intensity out there."
All-in-all this should be a heck of a game and one that could really propel the Porters if they can get a victory.
"We like being in this position," Czart said. "When you're good you want to show people that you are good and you want to do it against a program like H-F. This is a great chance to see how good we are."
It is varsity only and the game time is 6 pm. Tickets for the game can only be purchased through the Lockport Township security office at door 4 or the Athletic office Monday-Friday 7:45 am-3:15 pm Tickets will not be sold at the gate.
By Randy Whalen
Ty Schultz waited nearly two years for these moments.
As a sophomore, Schultz led Lockport in rushing yards. He was looking forward to an outstanding junior season but two things happened. COVID postponed the season last fall and moved it to this past spring. Then Schultz suffered an ACL injury in his left knee and had to sit out not only the spring season but the first two games this fall.
This past Friday, Sept. 10, he returned to the field and scored a pair of touchdowns as the Porters remained undefeated with a 43-7 bashing of Bradley-Bourbonnais before a huge crowd in a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover which was also the home opener in Lockport.
How did it feel to be back out there?
"It felt amazing," Schultz said.
Schultz saw his first action midway through the first quarter. His first two carries netted a total of one yard. But when Lockport got good field position at the Boilermaker 33 with 9:01 left in the second quarter, he carried the ball five straight times and scored on a 3-yard touchdown burst with 7:09 left in the first half.
Gabe Czako's extra point made it 16-0 and it was the first of three touchdowns the Porters would produce in the quarter.
"At first I was a little rusty and then I was fine," Schultz said. "When I scored I just wanted more, I just wanted more touchdowns."
Schultz is used to scoring touchdowns. He capped off his sophomore season with 20 carries for 192 yards and four touchdowns in a year-ending 42-12 win over Stagg on Oct. 25, 2019.
He added his second touchdown, scoring from 11-yards out and dragging a defender into the end zone with him. That made it 23-0 with 3:48 left in the opening half.
"Ty is a fantastic, strong kid," Lockport coach George Czart said of Schultz. "It was obviously tough what he went through but I thought he looked good and was able to cut well out there."
Schultz was taken out following his second touchdown. He finished with 10 carries for 60 yards. He was actually the Porter's third-leading rusher in the game. Fellow senior Andrew LoPresti finished with 16 carries for 74 yards and a TD. Junior Giovani Zaragoza came in at cleanup time and added nine carries for 70 yards and a touchdown as Lockport scored five times on the ground in the game.
Ever since LoPresti burst on the scene in the spring season, the paring of the two top running backs is something the Porter faithful looked forward to. So did Schultz.
"If we're both on, I don't think anyone will stop us," Schultz said of the combo.
So far no one has stopped the Porters at much of anything. Although their shutout streak ended, they scored 40-plus points for the third game in a row. That hasn't happened since weeks two through four in 2004, in which Lockport finished the regular season 9-0.
But this is a more dominating overall stretch as the Porters have outscored their opponents 132-7 so far this fall. They are 3-0 for the first time since 2016, which was their most recent playoff appearance.
"Things are going good," Czart said.
They are going so well that the Porters took a couple of fourth-down gambles in the opening drive that paid off. Facing a fourth-and-three at the Bradley-Bourbonnais 36, LoPresti lumbered for nine yards and a first down.
Three plays later Lockport faced a fourth-and-11 situation. From there Hayden Timosciek hit his favorite target, fellow senior Ryan Little, on a 12-yard pass to the 16. LoPresti then carried the ball three straight times, the last of which was a 4-yard touchdown run, and the Porters were on top to stay with 7:18 left in the first quarter.
Timosciek finished 11-for-19 for 128 yards passing with a touchdown and added four carries for six yards and a score. Little caught four passes for 76 yards and a touchdown.
"We took the opening kickoff and drove down," Czart said. "Absolutely we were going to go for it in those situations. Given where we were on the field I thought it was too far for a field goal and we wouldn't have gained much by punting it. So logically I thought we should go for it. We have good playmakers."
They also have intimidating playmakers on defense. The all-senior defensive front of Drew Blackburn-Forst, Paul Rasp, who returned from an ankle injury, and twins Cody and Cole Silzer put the usual pressure on throughout. They probably intimidated the Boilermakers into a couple of bad snaps.
In the final minutes of the first quarter, Bradley-Bourbonnais (2-1) reached the Porter 24. But facing a third-and-four from the 28, a snap sailed over the head of senior quarterback Caige Williams, who went back and fell on it for a 20-yard loss.
Following a second straight Porter punt early in the second quarter, Bradley-Bourbonnais took over at its own 30. Facing a fourth-and 10 from there, the snap went over the punter's head and eventually was kicked out of the back of the end zone for a safety and a 9-0 lead with 10:33 left in the first half.
Schultz scored his two touchdowns and then the Porters got the ball back at their own 48 with 1:01 to play in the half. Timosciek then threw two strikes to Little. The first was a fade to the left, which Little snared for 30 yards before going out of bounds and high-fiving former Lockport standout Tony Pashos, who had a 10-year NFL career and was on the sideline for the game.
Then Little hauled in a laser of a throw at the goal line. It was ruled that he was in and went for a 22-yard touchdown with just 49 seconds left in the half. Czako's extra point made it 30-0.
Danny Martisek added his second interception of the half for the Porters near midfield with seven seconds left in the first half. The senior had two catches on both offense (for 19 yards total) and defense.
"I just see the ball and make a play," Martisek said. "I just love football. Offensively I run the route and Hayden gets me the ball. It's as simple as that. I'm always open.
"We have a great defense. We will see what happens when we are tested. But they can't run or throw on us. We just have to keep it up."
Williams finished 14-of-28 for 133 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions. Junior free safety Troy Mutz and junior linebacker Jacob Duval also had interceptions and senior linebackers Ethan Gallagher and Dylan Schmutzler were everywhere for Lockport.
"I felt one of our strong points was defense," Czart said. "That includes our secondary, they made plays."
After 10 scoreless quarters and 127 minutes and 33 seconds without allowing any points to start the season, the Porters did give up a score. That came when it was ruled that junior wide receiver Caleb Barclay was in bounds as he made a diving catch for a 14-yard TD on the right side of the end zone with 4:27 left in the third quarter.
Lockport had some reserves in at defense but what got Czart upset was a personal foul penalty that moved the ball to the 14 right before that play.
"We have to clean up our penalties," he said. "I didn't like our lack of discipline."
What he did like was that his team came right back to score just over two minutes later. That was a quarterback keeper by Timosciek with 2:12 to play in the third quarter for a 36-7 lead. Timosciek exited the game at that point and junior Brady Pfeiffer was under center in the fourth quarter.
Zaragoza zipped in from seven yards out with 4:01 to play to cap the scoring and put the Porters above the 40-point mark for the third straight game. On the night, Lockport had 44 carries for 232 yards and five rushing touchdowns.
Not bad for an offensive line that has four new starters on it.
"It was hard at first with the new starters," said senior Colin Krzeczkowski, who is the only returning starter on the line from last season. "But now we are establishing an identity and heading in the right direction."
The offensive line is Krzeczkowski at left tackle, senior James Gannon at left guard, senior Anthony Devito at center, sophomore Christos Alexandros at right guard, and senior Jacob Ahrens at right tackle. Junior Rocco Rigoni also came in when needed.
"I'm super happy to see him back and scoring touchdowns," Krzeczkowski said of Schultz. "Now we have a three-headed monster of running backs with Andrew (LoPresti), Ty (Schultz), and Giovani (Zaragoza). Any one of them can score.
"We just have to keep practicing hard and keep getting better."
This week brings the first big challenge of the season as the Porters go back on the road for the SWSC Blue opener to face undefeated Homewood-Flossmoor (3-0), which is coming off a 44-2 win over visiting Lincoln-Way Central.
"We're 3-0," Schultz said. "We've got the better teams ahead of us but we've got a lot of guys contributing."
By Randy Whalen
Home is where the heart is.
It's also where the Lockport Township football team will be this Friday for the first time this season.
There is a big crowd expected as the Porters look to continue their best start since going 3-0 in 2016. That was also that last time they made the playoffs.
"I think we will have a huge crowd," Lockport coach George Czart said. "We had a big crowd for Maroon & White Night (on Aug. 20) and that was just a scrimmage. So this will be nice. They want to come out and know what the Porters are all about."
So far the Porters are all about winning, as they have not only started the season 2-0, they have outscored their opponents 89-0 in the process. This season they expect to not only make the playoffs but to make noise in them too.
Lockport knows, however, that to do that the team has to stay focused on the here-and-now. The opponent this week is Bradley-Bourbonnais, which also comes in undefeated at 2-0. The Boilermakers, however, have only played one game. That was in the opening week and was a 52-0 home win over Proviso East. The score was 38-0 after the first quarter.
In week two, Tilden from Chicago was supposed to make the long trip down to Bradley. But the Blue Devils forfeited the game and Bradley-Bourbonnais received a 2-0 victory.
"I've seen film on Bradley but there's not much to see," Czart said. "So I don't know much about them. They substituted a lot of players out in the Proviso East game. It wasn't a very competitive game."
Just like Lockport, the Boilermakers haven't made the playoffs since 2016. But also like the Porters, they are expecting big things this season. According to the Kankakee Daily Journal, there are "a ton" of playmakers back from the Bradley-Bourbonnais team that finished 3-3 this past spring.
At the top of that list is quarterback Caige Williams. Fellow senior Nathan Murphy is back at running back. and a trio of standout receivers in senior Mark Robinson and juniors Neal May and Caleb Barclay out wide, all back as well. Senior receiver Mekhi Brown and junior tight end Matt Allen are expected to contribute, while senior Grayson Dexter is also back to anchor the offensive line from his left tackle position.
Their defense is led by senior linebacker Detric Dee and sophomore linebacker AJ Mancilla, who head coach Mike Kohl (11th season, 57-40) said could end up being the best backer in school history, and Barclay at safety.
All the Porters want to do is continue what they did last week in their 48-0 win at Metea Valley.
Quarterback Hayden Timosciek was 5-for-8 for 117 yards. with two touchdowns. Both touchdowns were to fellow senior, Ryan Little, who had four catches for 75 yards. Senior running back Andrew LoPresti (20 carries for 186 yards) and junior running back Giovani Zaragoza (15 carries for 119 yards) both scored a pair of touchdowns.
"Hayden is going to throw the ball and we are going to continue to run the ball," Czart said. "The offensive line really stepped it up. We had guys going downfield, knocking people over."
The offensive line is seniors Colin Krzeczkowski at left tackle, James Gannon at left guard, Anthony Devito at center, sophomore Christos Alexandros at right guard, and senior Jacob Ahrens at right tackle. Junior Rocco Rigoni also came in when needed.
The offensive line will have someone else to block for this week. That is senior Ty Schultz, who was the team-leading rusher as a sophomore. But he was out in the spring with an ACL injury in his left knee. This will be his first game back.
"He'll be limited but he'll be back," Czart said of Schultz. "Both he and Andrew (LoPresti) are very good. We want to be able to have both guys on the field at the same time."
The defense was stellar again in the second week victory. They did it without a key defensive lineman, senior Paul Rasp, who was injured in the first half.
"He hurt his ankle and we put home in a boot as a precaution," Czart said of Rasp. "He seems OK, and we expect him back for Friday."
Rasp's injury let senior defensive tackle Michael Holland join in on the fun as he had a sack toward the end of the first half. The Silzer twins, Cody and Cole, along with fellow senior Drew Blackburn-Forst, continued to wreak havoc on the defensive line as well.
So did senior Ethan Gallagher, who blocked a punt and added an interception in a short span in the third quarter.
The last time Lockport played the Boilermakers was on the road in the final game of the 2018 season. Bradley-Bourbonnais won 34-27, with a couple of controversial calls going against the Porters. The loss left Lockport 0-9 that season.
But that was then, this is now.
Basically, if the Porters continue to do what they have done, things should continue to go well. Czart summed it up best.
"We're onto something good," he said.
By Randy Whalen
In case anyone hasn't noticed, the Lockport Township football team is good.
Really, really, really good.
Just how good remains to be seen. But the Porters certainly grabbed some attention with their second-week result. That was a 48-0 shutout of host Metea Valley on Friday, Sept. 3 in Aurora.
"It was overall domination, Lockport senior Ethan Gallagher said. "It felt sweet."
Andrew LoPresti and Giovani Zaragoza both rushed for over 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Hayden Timosciek threw two touchdown passes, both to fellow senior Ryan Little, to spur the offense.
Lockport (2-0) has outscored its two opponents this season by a combined total of 89-0. The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) listing of results only goes back to 1996. This is the first time since they had two in 1996 that the Porters have put up a pair of shutouts in a season.
As far as two shutouts to start a season? Who knows if that's ever been done. Even if it has, one thing is for certain. It wasn't as dominating as this. That's because the 48-point margin of victory ties for the sixth-largest in Lockport history.
The other top margins of victory in Lockport history are, Morris (108 points in 1912), Bolingbrook (56 points in 1977), Proviso (54 points in 1929), Joliet Township (50 points in 1999), Stagg (50 points in spring of 2021), and this ties a win over Morris (48 points in 1953) for sixth.
"We talked about how we wanted to improve on some things," Lockport coach George Czart said of what he wanted after a 41-0 win at Joliet West to start the season. "I thought we did that. We were crisper, especially Hayden and the offensive line."
Timosciek didn't have to throw much. But when he did, he was on, finishing 5-for-8 passing for 117 yards. He took the Porters 92 yards in their opening drive, including a 42-yard connection to senior Danny Martisek, and capped it off with a 17-yard TD to Little.
On Lockport's second possession, Timosciek was at it again, finding Little wide open for a 30-yard score with 1:59 left in the first quarter. Little was flanked out to the right before the play and put his hand up to alert Timosciek. Sure enough, there was no one near him and he caught the pass and cruised into the endzone.
"We saw that on film, "Little said of how he got so wide open on the play. "Geneva did the same thing (in a 20-15 opening season win over Metea) so we just saw what defensive formation they were in and took advantage.
"Hayden and the offensive line played outstanding. This feels great. We have all the potential we just have to keep the ball rolling. The sky is the limit for this team."
After being limited to 35 yards rushing in the opening week win, senior running back Andrew LoPresti surpassed that total by the end of the first quarter against the Mustangs. He scored a pair of touchdowns, the first one which was off left tackle, put the Porters ahead 21-0 with just over seven minutes left in the first half.
That stood up as the halftime score. LoPresti quickly added to that as he galloped in from 23-yards out two minutes into the third quarter for a 28-0 lead. He exited the game at that point, after having 20 carries for 186 yards.
"I was just seeing the opening, getting the cut and hitting the holes," LoPresti said. "The offensive line did great and showed a lot of improvement.
"That's wild (that the team has outscored its opponents 89-0). We knew coming in that we had a good team. We were working hard all summer and had to bring it at the start."
The offensive line is seniors Colin Krzeczkowski at left tackle, James Gannon at left guard, Anthony Devito at center, sophomore Christos Alexandros at right guard, and senior Jacob Ahrens at right tackle. Junior Rocco Rigoni also came in when needed.
Even with the reserves in, the Porters continued to dominate. Zaragoza, a junior who finished with 15 carries for 119 yards, scored on touchdown runs of seven and 13 yards. Junior backup quarterback Brady Pfeiffer also joined the party with a 13-yard TD run just before the end of the third quarter. That made it 48-0 and it could have been more but Lockport took a knee a couple of times at the end of the game after reaching the Mustang 13 yard line.
Let's not forget senior Gabe Czako. He converted on six of seven extra-point kicks and had numerous long kickoffs.
In all the offense had 485 total yards, including 44 carries for 368 yards and the five rushing touchdowns.
But, of course, the defense was there again. A challenge this game was to stop Metea wide receiver, Jalen Johnson, who has committed to Northern Illinois University. He did have a 64-yard kickoff return in the second quarter and finished with four catches for 48 yards. But after having five receptions for 100 yards and a TD in the opening game, Johnson was pretty much neutralized.
"He was the game plan, we had to take him away," said Gallagher, who was often guarding Johnson from his linebacker/safety position. "It all starts with our defensive line putting pressure on them and making them uncomfortable."
Gallagher did his part to make the Mustangs uncomfortable too. In the third quarter, he swooped in and blocked a punt which gave Lockport the ball at the Metea eight with 8:18 left. Two plays later, Zaragoza zipped in for the first of his touchdowns.
Zaragoza's second TD was set up when Gallagher intercepted a pass and returned it to the Mustang 20 midway through the third.
"We want to come out every week and just keep getting better," Gallagher said. "Every week we're just looking to improve."
Metea senior quarterback Logan Frederick finished 10-of-20 for 42 yards and the interception. He completed three passes for negative yardage including one on the game's strangest play midway through the second quarter. Frederick attempted to pass but had the ball batted back by senior defensive lineman, Drew Blackburn-Forst.
Frederick actually caught the deflected ball, so he completed a pass to himself. Problem was he passed it again and actually completed it to Johnson for what would have been a nice gain, which gave the Mustang fans a chance to cheer. But none of it counted as it was an illegal forward pass. So it was a 12-yard loss on the pass to himself, plus a loss-of-down penalty.
The Porter defense showed their fortitude at the end of the first half as well. Metea had reached the Lockport 27, which was the furthest it got in the game. But on second-and-10 from there, came a trio of sacks. Senior defensive tackle Michael Holland had the first one, Blackburn-Forst bashed in for the second one, and Cole Silzer, who teamed with his senior twin brother Cody on numerous tackles from their defensive line position, had the last one on the final play of the half. The three sacks totaled minus 25 yards.
"Ethan is around everywhere on defense and has shown what he can do," Czart said of Gallagher. "We're hoping schools get more interested in him. The defense played great all around."
The Porter show comes home for the first time this season on Friday as they host Bradley-Bourbonnais in a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover at 6:30 PM.
By Randy Whalen
"One down one to go. Another town and one more show."
Pardon the lyric from the song "Leve It" by the rock group Yes, but that sort of sums up what the Lockport Township football team is looking to do this season.
While the Porters are doing the age-old adage of "taking them one at a time," they also have to do something else. Win them on the road.
Lockport has five of its first seven games on the road. The first one was a resounding 41-0 victory at Joliet West this past Friday. The Porter defense was outstanding, limiting the Tigers to negative yardage through the first three quarters.
This week the Porters take their defensive show on the road again as they travel to Aurora to face Metea Valley in another nonconference matchup. It's the first-ever football meeting between the two schools. But the Mustangs have only been playing since 2010.
"Yes, it was absolutely a good signature win for the defense," Lockport coach George Czart said of the opening win. "The defense getting two scores was also excellent."
The 41-0 win was the largest opening season victory by a Lockport football team in at least the past 25 years. It may have been the biggest in school history but the Illinois High School Association yearly football scores only go back to 1996.
In its brief history, Metea Valley has never had a winning season. The Mustangs did qualify for the playoffs and finish 5-5 in 2014, losing 21-14 to neighboring Waubonsie Valley in the postseason. But the past four seasons have not brought many wins. Their record since the fall of 2017 is 3-28, including a listed record of 0-3 in the spring of this year.
In this season's opener, the Mustangs put up a good fight before losing 20-15 to Geneva last Friday night in Aurora.
"They looked pretty good," Czart said of seeing the Mustangs on film. "They have a good receiver, number 11, who is going to Northern Illinois University. He's a good track performer too. They get the ball to him a lot."
That is Jalen Johnson, who hauled in a 53-yard bomb down the right sideline at the end of the second quarter to give Metea Valley a 9-7 lead at halftime. Johnson, who also had an interception on defense, finished with exactly 100 yards on five receptions from fellow senior Logan Frederick.
John Flynn, another senior wide receiver, caught a 12-yard TD pass from Frederick on fourth down to briefly give the Mustangs a 15-14 lead. But the Vikings scored a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter and later got an interception to clinch the win.
The Porters had three interceptions against Joliet West. Cole Silzer had the highlight one as he snared a batted ball by fellow senior lineman, Drew Blackburn-Forst inches from the ground at the goal line and scored a TD on the pick. Senior Drew Gallagher and Shane McEntee also added interceptions for the Porters, who also received a fumble recovery for a touchdown from senior defensive lineman Paul Rasp.
Although the first-week score doesn't show it, an area of improvement for Lockport is the offense.
"Our defense played well but we have to step it up on offense," Czart said. "But I also thought the Joliet West defense played well. They (the Tigers) made things difficult for us.
"But the biggest improvement we want to see is the offensive line. We have some new guys there and we want to see them get better. We want to be able to run the ball."
Hayden Timosciek threw for four touchdown passes and accounted for most of the offense through the air. The senior finished by completing 15 of his 22 passes for 161 yards with four scores and no interceptions.
Including three sacks of Timosciek, however, the Porters had 21 carries for just 27 yards on the ground.
The leading receiver was Timosciek's little brother, a 6-foot-6-inch junior tight end, Hyatt Timosciek. He finished with six receptions for 79 yards and a TD.
"Hyatt also had some nice blocks out there," Czart said. "We hope he keeps developing. We should have another tight end/fullback, Mike Doneske, back for this week too. So we hope to get guys open."
This will be one of two games (at Sandburg on Sept. 24 is the other) on the Porters schedule where the sophomores, who are scheduled to start at 4:30, will play before the varsity. This week's varsity game will start at approximately 7 PM.
By Randy Whalen
Cody Silzer summed it up best.
"I feel a week one win is most important," the Lockport Township senior defensive lineman said. "Half the teams start 1-0 and the other half goes 0-1. We wanted to come out, punch them in the mouth and get off to a good start."
The Porters certainly did that, especially on defense, as they dominated in shutting out Joliet West 41-0 in the season opener on Friday night, Aug. 27 in Joliet.
How big was the victory? It was the largest margin of victory by a Lockport team in a season-opener in at least the past quarter of a century and one of the biggest opening wins in its over 100-year history. In fact, it was the first opening season win for the Porters since a 14-0 victory over Downers Grove North in 2017.
But that season, coming off their most recent playoff berth in 2016, the Porters finished 2-7. They expect at least seven regular-season wins this year.
For good measure, senior quarterback Hayden Timosciek threw four touchdown passes as Lockport took advantage of good field position throughout.
"I had some first-game jitters," Timosciek said. "But the win felt great. We started out the season right and our defense was phenomenal."
Yes, it was, and with eight players who saw significant time on that side of the ball this past spring back for this fall, the Porters played like it. Lockport scored twice on defense, had five sacks, forced four turnovers, had numerous tackles for loss, and held Joliet West to negative yards through three quarters.
Silzer and his twin brother, Cole set the tone on the game's first play as they swarmed in to drop the Tigers for a three- yard loss. But it was Cole that had an interception for a touchdown in the highlight play of the game.
That happened at the end of the first quarter. Already trailing 14-0, Joliet West got its initial first down of the game but was backed up again by a holding call. Senior quarterback Carter Baranski dropped back and under a heavy rush, his pass was batted by senior lineman Andrew Blackburn Forst. It looked like the ball would fall to the ground but in swooped Silzer to snare it inches from the turf at the goal line and dive in for the touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 15 seconds left in the first quarter.
“It was awesome," Blackburn-Forst said of the play. "I thought I had just deflected the ball down but Cole came in and got it just before it hit the ground for the touchdown. That catch was insane, it was just crazy.
"For our defense to start out the game by scoring a TD is the sign of a good season. We just have to play all four quarters."
Besides being in on that play and numerous tackles, Blackburn-Forst also forced a fumble and had a sack.
"It was like in slow motion," Cole Silzer said of the play. "It just fell right in my hands and it's the first time I've scored a touchdown in a high school game.
"We just knew we had to come out here and play well on defense."
Indeed that's what the Porters did as backed up to its own one on its second possession, Joliet West fumbled in the end zone and senior defensive lineman Paul Rasp, who also had a sack, recovered the ball for the games initial TD midway through the first quarter.
On the Porter's second offensive possession, Timosciek hit senior wide receiver Ryan Little for a seven-yard touchdown pass. Later in the first half, he hooked up with senior running back Andrew LoPresti on a dump-off pass and the senior took it 26-yards to the house and Lockport led 28-0.
LoPresti had three receptions for 39 yards with the touchdown and added nine carries for 35 yards.
That held up as the halftime score and was also still the score after three. But Timosciek hit senior Ethan Gallagher, who also had a sack from the linebacker position on defense, for an 18-yard TD pass in the right corner. Following an interception by senior Shane McEntee, Timosciek capped the scoring with another touchdown pass 29 seconds later.
The last one, from 12-yards out, went to his brother, junior tight end Hyatt Timosciek, who led the team with six catches for 79 yards.
"That's my first-ever touchdown pass to him," Hayden Timosciek said of the connection with his brother. "When we were younger we played together in youth football on the defensive line. So to do that felt good."
Hayden Timosciek finished 15-for-22 for 161 yards with the four touchdowns and no interceptions. But he was sacked three times and under pressure on others. Lockport finished with 188 total yards. But didn't need anymore because of the defense.
"We had new people on the offensive line," Lockport coach George Czart said. "There's room for improvement and we will be as good as the offensive line."
Also having sacks for the Porters were senior strong safety Nicholas Franciskovich and junior defensive tackle Owen Skentzos. Junior defensive end Niko Frcek added a fumble recovery.
The Tigers had minus two yards through the first three quarters. Junior running back Dante Morrow had a 53-yard burst in the fourth quarter. But he was caught at the Lockport 27. Joliet West, which finished with 67 total yards, got as close as the 13 but couldn't score.
Senior defensive lineman Arthur Hrvatin had two sacks and senior linebackers Bryan McCoy and Josh Koser combined on one for the Tigers.
"Our defense played very well," Czart said. "They played within themselves, they let the plays come to them and they finished."
By Randy Whalen
For old-timers that have followed these football programs over the years, the matchup definitely is old school. Ever since Joliet West opened in the fall of 1964, the neighboring town schools have had a natural rivalry.
Now it is renewed as Lockport will travel to take on the host Tigers in the season opener this Friday, Aug. 27 with kickoff slated for 6:30 PM.
While the matchup is old school, the ticket policy in place at Joliet West is very modern. Tickets CANNOT be purchased at the gate for the game. Please visit the link GOFAN.CO/APP/SCHOOL/IL50184 or http://lths.org under the athletics tab for your chance to purchase.
There were no websites to purchase tickets on back in the late 70s when Czart was a linebacker at Bolingbrook and playing against both Joliet West and Lockport in the days of the old Illini 8 Conference. The other teams in that league were Joliet Catholic, Joliet Central, Joliet East (which closed as a school in 1983), Marian Catholic, and Romeoville.
"Yes, them being close to Lockport makes them a natural rival in all sports," Czart said of the Tigers.
It does, but the two programs haven't played each other in six seasons. Plus, the fact that this is the season opener and neither team has played at all, thus has no current video available, makes it harder for both teams going into the game.
"It would have been nicer if we could have seen them," Czart said of the Tigers. "We don't really know what to expect. We just have to be ready for a hard-nosed football team and know they have done things well in their (Southwest Prairie) conference.
"We are preparing for them as best we can and preparing to make changes if we need to."
This is now the 12th season that the Tigers have reverted back to their own program. Between the fall of 1993 and the spring of 2010, Joliet Central and Joliet West combined their sports programs as Joliet Township.
From the fall of 2010 until the fall of 2015, the Porters and Joliet West were back in the same conference. That's the current one for Lockport, the Blue Division of the SouthWest Suburban Conference. But the Tigers left in the fall of 2016 to join their current conference, the Southwest Prairie.
Lockport won five of the team's six meetings between 2010 and 2015. Those were by the scores of 37-14 (2010), 35-14 (2011), 49-31 (2013), 46-28 (2014), and 35-6 (2015, which knocked the Tigers out of a possible playoff berth). Joliet West's lone win in that span was a 28-7 one in 2012.
The move to the Southwest Prairie has paid dividends for the Tigers. They made three playoff appearances between 2016-19, including winning the Eastern Division of the league with an overall losing (4-5, but 4-1 in the conference) record in 2019. This past spring they were 3-3.
Skylar Crudup, who is a run/pass threat, returns as quarterback for Joliet West. Another key offensive returner is fellow senior Ena Dorcoo at running back. He has speed if he gets in open space.
On defense, the Tiger's best player is senior outside linebacker Bryan McCoy, who has offers from Army and Navy. Senior defensive backs Robert Satterwhite and Jerry Richards are both very solid.
"We need to be able to keep them in front of us and contain their playmakers, " Czart said. Their coach (Bill Lech) does a good job."
The Porters defense should be a strong suit. They return eight players who saw significant time last season. That includes the entire defensive line of twins Cody and Cole Silzer, Drew Blackburn-Forst (6-3, 235), and fellow senior Paul Rasp.
Hayden Timosciek literally looks to do big things at quarterback. Andrew LoPresti broke out at running back in the spring and looks to keep that going, and fellow seniors Ryan Little and Keegan Roberson will be among many options at wide receiver for Lockport.
"Yeah, they're chomping at the bit," Czart said of his squad being ready to go for the season. "We are coming off a shorter offseason but we want to make sure the kids are fresh.
"We just want to make sure we look at one at a time and don't get too far ahead of ourselves. (The week leading up to the game) we stepped back on practices a little but we know we still have to make improvements. We don't want to go too fast but we also don't want to go too slow."
One thing is for sure, there is excitement for the Porter team this fall that hasn't been around since perhaps the back-to-back state championship days.
"I love the excitement," Czart said. "At the (Maroon & White) scrimmage, just to see how many people were there. Just to see how excited everyone is at the prospect of this season. That's what Lockport football should be."
By Randy Whalen
That is what the Lockport Township sophomore football team has produced in the past three seasons.
The Porters have gone 6-3, 9-0, and 5-1 in a shortened season this past spring. That's a very nice 20-4 mark and they don't plan to change that success this season. Even with a new head coach.
That is Kevin Bolling, who takes over for Jason Frieri to head up the sophomore team this season. But Bolling is far from new to Porter football.
"This is my 28th year at Lockport," Bolling said. "I had a stretch at Lockport where I was the head sophomore coach from 2001-09. More recently I have been the quarterback and receivers coach at this level."
So he's been here for the success, just as he was back in the fall of 2002 when Jake Christensen quarterbacked the sophomore team before leading the Porter varsity to the second of back-to-back Class 8A state championships in 2003.
"We've been pretty successful, especially the past two seasons," Bolling said of the sophomore team which was undefeated and stopped a long Lincoln-Way East winning streak in the fall of 2019. "(Head) Coach (George) Czart knows our main job on the sophomore level is to develop players. But we have a solid amount of talent and should have a successful season."
Drew Gallagher will be the starting quarterback. The younger brother of senior defensive back/linebacker/wide receiver Ethan Gallagher, he has the complete package.
"He's a run/pass threat," Bolling said of Gallagher. "He's been working to get his arm strength better and has been really up to the challenge."
Also being looked to on offense will be Tanner Benaitis and Kevin Holland at wide receiver. Twin brothers Christos Alexandros and Nicolas Alexandros were going to be key on the offensive line but both could see time on the varsity too. Joe Picciola will be counted on the offensive line and Aidan Preciado will be a key at tailback.
Another person at tailback will be Elijah Beltran, who will double on defense at defensive back. Also being looked to on defense is linebacker Jameson Clark, Dallas Gorski should be a force on the defensive line, and Nick Zahara will be counted on as a defensive back.
"We're out there, ready to go for coach," said Gorski, whose first name of Dallas is after the Cowboys. "I expect improvement all around. I expect that after a disappointing freshmen season."
The Porter freshmen "A" team finished 2-3-1 in the spring. So they are looking for a winning record.
"Yes, we were 2-3-1 last year," Preciado confirmed. "Honestly getting more reps, more prep, more play (with a longer, non-COVID protocol season) will give us better play. We've got a new offensive line but we're piecing it all together."
Even though it happened before he got to high school, Clark knows what he wants this group to duplicate.
"We want to try to go 9-0," he said. "We were 9-0 two years ago. We just have to keep working in practice. We've got a good group now."
"We just have to practice our butts off," Zahara said. "We've just got to keep working and keep it up."
Nathan Blazewski is the sophomore team kicker. But just like senior varsity kicker, Gabe Czako, he plays on the varsity soccer team as his main sport. So it's possible he might miss some games.
Something that started this past spring and will pretty much continue this fall, is that the sophomore games will no longer be played on Friday nights. The exception to that is the second-week game, on Friday, Sept. 3, at Metea Valley. There the sophomore game is scheduled for 4:30 PM and the varsity afterward at about 7 PM.
Otherwise, all the sophomore games are scheduled for 9 AM with the same home and away locations as the varsity. Which does not make everyone happy.
"It does suck because you know, the Friday night lights are awesome," Benaitis bluntly said. "But we are playing and have got a season. I'm happy for that."
Bolling was always around the Friday night sophomore games too. So he would have liked it to also remain that way.
"I prefer the Friday nights," he said of the sophomore schedule. "But the positive thing is there is consistency."
The Porters plan that the consistent schedule helps to keep them winning.
By Randy Whalen
"Don't get mad, get better!"
As the Lockport Township freshmen football team kicked off the annual Maroon & White Night on Friday, August 20 with a scrimmage, one of the Porter defensive players missed a tackle. He was visibly upset with himself but he got that simple yet excellent advice from freshmen "B" coach Rotell Calmes.
"I love it," Calmes, who is in his seventh season at Lockport, said of coaching. "I love to make the kids better. I also love to tell them to be a team, not an individual. And to also have fun."
By the time they get to high school, most of the freshmen have played football. But they can always be tuned-up on the fundamentals, and most of all, what is expected of them at Lockport.
"The focus for the freshmen is that we want everyone to love football," Lockport freshman "A" head coach Troy Holder said. "We want to cultivate the guys to love the game."
This is Holder's first season as the freshmen "A" head coach, although he's been on the staff ever since George Czart took over as head coach in the fall of 2019. Holder knows Czart quite well, as he played for him as a quarterback and free safety at Lincoln-Way North, graduating in 2013.
"Since I played for him, I know what to expect," Holder said of Czart. "When I heard he was coming back here to coach I was super excited to come here and coach for him."
The feeling is certainly mutual.
"Troy was a hard-nosed football player," Czart said of Holder. "So I'm happy he's in the position that he's in. He knows what to expect and what we expect of his teams."
A couple of the freshmen players are looking toward a good season of learning and hopefully winning.
"That's our goal, our goal is to go 9-0," Lockport running back/middle linebacker Johnny Wesolowski said. "We want to keep the program going well.
"Just dressing (for Maroon & White Night) in our actual game jerseys made me feel like I was actually out there playing, not just practicing."
Conley Pfeiffer is the "A" team quarterback. He is the latest in the line of Pfeiffer quarterbacks at Lockport. Riley, who has now graduated, was the starting varsity quarterback last season. Brady was the starting quarterback on the sophomore team this past spring and is now a junior and the varsity backup QB.
"It's nice to be the latest one and I've learned a lot from them," Conley Pfeiffer said of his older brothers. "I've watched them the last couple of years and I'm ready to go. We just want to get better and step up as a team."
Some other players to watch for on the freshmen level include Bryson Melgoza at offensive guard, Tyler Pospisil at middle linebacker, Tristan Potete at free safety, Payton Roberson, who is the younger brother of varsity senior wide receiver Keegan Roberson, at outside linebacker and running back, Malik Salah at both offensive and defensive tackle, and John Sherrod at fullback.
With the Porter program back on the rise there's a good amount of kids out for the teams.
"We have nearly 75 kids out for the team, we call them one's and two's," Calmes said of who will be on the "A" team or "B" team. "Most of the time the kids separate themselves. but we always want to keep the competition going and tell them to have fun."
By Randy Whalen
The foundation is in place.
Now the Lockport Township football team looks to build it to heights not seen in at least a decade.
Coming off a winning season this past spring, only their second since 2011, the Porters plan to not only continue their winning ways, they plan to take it deep into the postseason.
They tuned up for that on Friday, Aug. 20 with the annual Maroon & White night festivities. All three levels, freshmen, sophomore, and varsity participated. Rather than have an actual all-out complete scrimmage game, however, the varsity ran some series of plays. There were actual officials out there though, so it was a game-type atmosphere. It was just done with a lot of substitutions in a short amount of time.
"It's been a long time waiting," Lockport football coach George Czart said. "We are anxious and the kids are doing all they can to prepare for this moment. Here we are and we are hoping things go well."
While this football offseason was actually the shortest in school history, with a COVID shortened spring campaign ending with a 56-6 victory over Stagg on April 23 in Palos Hills, it set the expectations for this one. So the squad has been itching to get back out there.
Especially since the Porters return 15 players that saw significant time on the field last year in helping the team to a 4-2 record.
"We've got a great thing going," Lockport senior middle linebacker Dylan Schmutzler said. "If we keep working, keep grinding, we're going to do well."
Schmutzler (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) is one of eight defensive players who return.
Included in that is the entire defensive line. Twins Cody (6-3, 250) and Cole (6-3, 245) Silzer are both back and are also both going to Eastern Illinois University together next season. Fresh off a Class 3A wrestling state championship and a national runner-up finish in Greco-Roman, both at 220 pounds, Drew Blackburn-Forst (6-3, 235) is looking forward to bring havoc on the D-line. So is fellow senior Paul Rasp (5-10, 170) at defensive end.
The secondary has some key pieces back too. They include seniors Nick Franciskovich (5-9, 160) at strong safety/outside linebacker, Ethan Gallagher (6-3, 187) at free safety/outside linebacker, and Danny Martisek (6-0, 175) at cornerback. Gallagher and Martisek may also see time on offense at wide receiver.
"We've been working on culture and the level of competitiveness we hold ourselves to," Gallagher said. "We are all playing together and there's not a thing that we don't hold to a high level on the playing field.
"We are just going to prepare for each opponent. We've got to beat Joliet West (on the road at 6:30 PM on Friday, August 27 in the season opener) before we play Metea Valley."
Actually, there are only six players back on offense that saw time on the field last year. The seventh is Ty Schultz (5-11, 197) who was the Porters leading rusher two years ago as a sophomore. He, however, suffered an ACL injury in his left knee and missed the spring season. He is hopeful to be back by the third game this fall.
Once he is, Schultz hopes to double with fellow senior running back Andrew LoPresti (5-11, 180), who literally burst on the scene in the spring to lead Lockport in rushing, to form a potent two-headed attack.
It also helps to have experience back at the key cog of quarterback. The Porters certainly do there as Hayden Timosciek (6-7, 235) returns after playing a lot at that position in the spring. The senior, who missed a game and a half with an injured shoulder last season, was behind Riley Pfieffer. But since all of Lockport's wins were blowouts (by an average of 34.3 points) he got to see a lot of time.
"I got injured with my AC joint in my left shoulder but I'm 100 percent now," Timosciek said. "Last season helped me a lot. It helped me to be acclimated to being in the pocket.
"We just have to stay consistent. No matter how many games we end up playing, we have to win the turnover battle and maximize our opportunities. I'm more than ready. Beginning to end, it's going to be an exciting season."
Also returning on offense are seniors Ryan Little (6-4, 190) and Keegan Roberson (5-9, 165), who was the state runner-up at 138 pounds in wrestling, at wide receiver. Junior Rocco Rigoni (6-2, 210), who played a fullback and tight end in the spring, moves to offensive guard this fall. The only actual returning starter on the offensive line is senior Colin Krzeczkowski (6-5, 265) at left tackle.
"As linemen, we've been telling each other that we've got to give Hayden time in the pocket," Krzeczkowski said of protecting Timosciek. "He can do so much with the ball and we've just got to hold the defense and be physical.
"As a group, we have been together since we were little. We just have to stay as one team, be together, and we can go far."
Plus, returning on special teams is kicker Gabe Czako (6-0, 140). The senior is quite the accomplished athlete at Lockport, also doubling as the leader of the soccer team this fall and being considered as the top hurdler in the state, after placing second in the 110 and 300-meter hurdles in Class 3A this past spring, heading into next years track and field season.
A schedule change that began this past spring because of COVID is staying in place this fall. That is not playing the sophomore game before the varsity one. Well, with the exception of one game, the second week at Metea Valley, there will be what now looks like a permanent change in the football schedule.
The sophomore games have been moved to Saturday mornings. In most cases that leaves a single varsity game on Friday nights. The exception is on Friday, Sept. 3 at Metea Valley, where the sophomore game is slated for 4:30 PM, and the varsity game to follow at approximately 7 PM.
While the sophomore players aren't too happy with the lack of Friday night games, Czart certainly likes the change.
"It's like preparing for a playoff game," he said. "You can approach it like that with a more regular routine. I know (the sophomores aren't happy) but this gives them something to strive for. Not everyone gets to drive the Cadillac."
Five of the Porter's regular-season games are on the road and they are all in the first seven weeks of the season. If they are going to compete for their first conference championship since winning the SICA Blue in 2004, they will have to defeat SouthWest Suburban Blue opponents Bolingbrook (Oct. 8, 6 PM), Homewood-Flossmoor (Sept. 17, 6 PM), and Sandburg (Sept. 24, 6 PM) on the road.
Then, of course, there is Lincoln-Way East. Lockport led the Griffins, who have won 46 of their last 47 games, 10-7 late in the first half this spring. But Lincoln-Way East, which was 6-0 last season and won undefeated Class 8A titles in 2017 and 2019, scored right before the end of the half and went on to win 34-10.
"We've played Lincoln-Way East tough in the past," Schmutzler said. "We've got hard workers and hopefully we can finish the job against them this season. No matter what we are going to have a fun time this season. We have good chemistry."
At least the game against the Griffins is once again at home. That's scheduled for Friday, Oct. 15 at 6:30 PM. It will be the second to last regular-season game and the only SWSC home one.
"A champion is a champion until someone beats them," Czart said. "In order to do that we've got to put a whole game together. Last season they stepped up in the second half and we couldn't answer. But everything is in increments. Someone has to get them, why not us?"
The Porter's other three home games are all SWSC crossovers. The first one is the home opener on Friday, Sept. 10 at 6:30 against Bradley-Bourbonnais. The next is a tough match-up with what should be a very good Lincoln-Way West team at 6:30 PM on Oct. 1. Finally, the regular season will conclude on Oct. 22 with a 6:30 game against Andrew.
Then hopefully on to the playoffs, where Lockport has not won a postseason matchup since 2011 and has not hosted a playoff game since being upset by Lincoln-Way East in the opening round in 2004.
If there is a weakness to the team, it could be depth. So hopefully there won't be any major injuries and if there are, someone will have to step up.
In the meantime, it's go time.
"I'm looking forward to each and every game," Czart said. "Just meeting with the team and the times we can communicate. Then I look forward to Friday nights and seeing them put it all together out there."
By Randy Whalen
Ryan Little is a senior and has been the top receiver for the Porter football team this season.
1. The team just had a big 22-0 win over host Homewood-Flossmoor and you are now 4-0. What does that win do for you guys?
"Obviously we took care of business and shut down the doubters who said we were going to lose. When you have a defense like we do, your offense only has to do so much."
2. Speaking of offense, you and Hayden (Timosciek) have quite the connection since you are the leading receiver on the team with at least a touchdown reception in every game and six total through the first four games. What's the key to that?
"Oh I love being the go-to guy for Hayden and we have a special connection and I'm glad he's my quarterback. We've known each other for a long time but we've started that in high school. We really started the connection sophomore season when we went undefeated (9-0)."
3. What's the key to playing the position of wide receiver?
"The key is getting past the defense and giving Hayden that area to throw to me. Then there's the hand-eye coordination and just getting into the zone to get open. Also our defense is so tough. Going against them in practice makes us play so much better. Plus me going up against Danny Martisek in practice definitely makes me better. He's tough."
4. Do you play any other sports?
"I didn't but last season I did track. I mostly did the 100-meter dash. It's like running a football field and it helped me a lot to get ready for this season. I got faster and I plan to do it again next spring to help me get ready for college football."
5. Out of the rest of the regular season, what opponent do you look forward to playing the most?
"Lincoln-Way East. It's been too long to count since we've beat them. (2004). So to play them and beat them would be amazing."
6. I've talked to numerous players this season and you all seem to have a sense of history for the program. How important is that history to you?
"It's definitely important. We are going to try to be the first team to beat Lincoln-Way East for a long time. We also want the shutouts. When all is done, we want to be one of the best teams that Lockport has ever had. That's our goal."
7. Coach George Czart has been part of that history since he was defensive coordinator on the 2002 and 2003 state champion teams. So what have you learned from him?
"Discipline. He's turned the program around. Plus, he has a relationship with all the players and that's great."
8. If you could be a superhero, what superhero would you be and why?
"The Hulk. Because he's big and strong. But if I looked like that I'd have to be a defensive tackle."
9. Have you committed to playing football in college yet?
"No. I'm not worried about it. I know that after the success this season I will have offers come my way. So I'm just going to wait until the end of the year and enjoy this."
10. What is the best thing about being an athlete at Lockport?
Definitely the atmosphere. The coaches, the fans, the students. They all support you and have your back. The coaches are all just there for you and that's great."
By Randy Whalen
Cody and Cole Silzer are identical twins and top defensive linemen for the Lockport Township football team.
1. The team is off to a great start at 3-0 and you have outscored your opponents 132-7. What has been the key to the terrific opening?
Cody: "It's just the game management. We just go after it every week with the game plan that coach Czart puts in and we don't get too ahead of ourselves."
Cole: "It's been that we've played together for so many years. We've been together since the (Homer) Stallions pee-wee days, so the chemistry is there."
2. How did you guys get involved playing football?
Cody: "My dad (Jim, a 1990 Lockport grad) put us in football. We were playing it for quite a while and after freshmen year we put in a lot more time. As freshmen, we played offensive line and Cole played tight end. Then we switched positions to the defensive line. We found our positions and loved them."
Cole: "We started early but we didn't really play. We rode the bench in youth football. We were what they call '5th quarter kids.' That's where you go out at the end and play a game with a running 10-minute clock. We went out freshmen year but it all changed sophomore year. We wanted to go to the D-line and coach (assistant coach) Ron Kulwinski helped us make the transition."
3. What do you love most about playing defense?
Cody: "Just getting the first hit. Going to the ball. We all get hyped up a lot and have a lot of chemistry on the defense."
Cole: "Just making the big plays. Getting sacks and fumbles. Just getting after it."
4. Do you guys play any other sports?
Cody: "We both wrestled and worked our butts off. It was all about technique. We wrested our freshmen and sophomore years. Sophomore year, Cody and I wrestled on varsity and I was an alternate for state. With the season change, we didn't wrestle junior year. I might go back to wrestling. I don't know yet."
Cole: "We also used to play baseball through sophomore year. Cody is a lefty and I'm a righty. We used to both pitch and Cody played first and I played third base. This past spring we were on the track and field team and threw shot and discus. I made it to state in shot put."
5. You guys are really identical twins, looking exactly alike. How often do you get mistaken for each other?
Cody: "It happens every day. My dad even gets it wrong. We even look more similar now as we get older."
Cole: "Yes, when someone says 'Cody, ' I look. All the coaches just call us 'Silzer.' They don't even try. But we work well together, both on and off the field."
6. This week is a huge game against Homewood-Flossmoor. What opponent do you look forward to playing the most?
Cody: "Yes, H-F is a big opponent. We haven't beat them on the varsity for a long time (27-6 in 2009) so they're a big opponent."
Cole: "I think H-F is a good game and a really good proving point. If we get a big win it will show how good the Porters are. It will be the same when we play Lincoln-Way East (on Oct. 15). If we beat them it'll be really big."
7. What have you learned from Lockport football coach, George Czart?
Cody: "I just love his game plan. We go in every week with that hoping for big things. He's really turned the program around."
Cole: "It took a lot to turn the program around from 0-9 from three years ago. He has a lot of dedication and I hope he gets Coach of the Year."
8. If you could be any animal, which animal would you be and why?
Cody: "I want to be a dog because those trenches are hard. So you have to be a dog and wreak havoc."
Cole: "A lion. Because they are always hunting for prey and are also a leader."
9. Both of you have committed to continue playing at Eastern Illinois University. Was that planed that you would attend college together?
Cody: "It was just that every college coach talked to us about going together. We would have gone alone if need be, but we were recruited together."
Cole: "At first we didn't know that we were going together. We planed for anything but the pieces fell together and Eastern wanted us both."
10. What's the best thing about being an athlete at Lockport?
Cody: "I feel like we have one of the best coaching staffs in the state. We also have great support from the community. To have a large crowd, like we did last Friday night (in the 43-7 win over Bradley-Bourbonnais) was awesome."
Cole: "Our community is all-in on us, especially with the football program. It was crazy with all the fans last week. That was the most fans I'd ever seen at one of our games. It was awesome."
By Randy Whalen
Andrew LoPresti is a senior at Lockport Township. He was the leading rusher for the Porters in the spring and is off to another great campaign this fall as he had 20 carries for 186 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 48-0 win at Metea Valley last Friday.
The football team is off to an amazing start, outscoring your opponents 89-0 in the first two games. What has been the key to the great start?
"Yes, our start has been awesome. Our defense works very hard and has amazing players. On offense, we have focused on little things, figured it out and we are doing really well together."
You were the team-leading rusher in the spring and also in the big win at Metea Vally last Friday. But now Ty Schultz, who was the leading rusher on the team as a sophomore in 2019, returns this Friday against Bradley- Bourbonnais. What's it going to be like to have both of you out there?
"It's going to be awesome. But along with Ty, we have (junior running back) Giovani Zaragoza (15 carries for 119 yards and 2 TD'S against Metea). The great thing is we all have different styles. So it will keep us fresh and keep the defense on their toes."
How did you get involved in playing football?
"When I was young, I needed to find a sport to play. I found football and started playing it. I got much better at it as time went on. I started playing when I was seven and the funny thing was that I used to have to block (current Lockport quarterback) Hayden Timosciek when I was a fullback type and he played defensive end when we both played youth football for the Stallions."
You also run track and field, correct?
"Yes. I started doing that in eighth grade at Homer Jr. High. I was playing football and I did I to stay in shape. I was fairly fast and went to state in the 4X100 relay. It was pretty cool to go to state in my first year in the sport. I went to state this past spring at Lockport in the 2X200 relay. I also run the 100 and 200-meter races individually."
So which do you like better, football or track and field?
"Football is more fun. It's a lot more interactive. But running track is good to compare yourself and how you are doing in that event, that day."
What opponent are you looking forward to playing the most this season?
"It's between H-F (Homewood-Flossmoor) and Lincoln-Way East. But I'd say H-F (on Friday, Sept. 17 in Flossmoor). We played them last year in our first game and didn't play up to our potential. So we want to see how we do against them this year."
What have you learned from Lockport football coach George Czart?
"He's really done a good job of bringing a winning culture and team concept here. But he also makes it fun and competitive, where we can show up and enjoy it. He's just something special."
If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why?
"A dog. I know, it's basic. But they are always playful and having fun. Plus there are a lot of varieties of dogs."
Do you plan to play football in college?
"I haven't decided anything yet. But I'm keeping the door open. I've got my academics, which I'm good in. I don't know what I will major in yet. That depends on a few things, so I'll keep my options open."
What is the best thing about being an athlete at Lockport?
"We are really starting to get a good student section going. We just have a winning culture at Lockport. Everyone respects the athletes at Lockport and encourages each other."
By Randy Whalen
Drew Blackburn-Forst is a senior at Lockport Township. He won the Class 3A state championship in wrestling at 220-pounds this past season and also was the national runner-up in Greco-Roman wrest at 220-pounds at the USA Wrestling Junior and 16U National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota at the end of July. He is currently a top defensive player, at defensive lineman, for the Porter varsity football team, which he's been on for 3-seasons.
The Porter defense was dominant in the 41-0 opening season win. You guys allowed minus 2-yards through the first three quarters and pitched a shutout. What can you say about the defensive performance?
"To win 41-0, that's pretty crazy. We were working as a whole unit and doing all the things we practiced, on the field. I believe we have a Top 3 defense in the state."
How long have you been playing football?
"I've been playing for nine years. I first started playing football when I was eight for the Homer Stallions. I started wrestling at age three and was first on a wrestling team at age five."
Got to ask the question, which sport do you like better, football or wrestling?
"I prefer football. A lot of people say I'm a better wrestler. But I prefer the team aspect of football."
To elaborate on that, let me ask you this. You have been a state champion in wrestling and a national runner-up too. But what would you rather have, an individual state championship, or a team one in football?
"Everything I've done in wrestling is amazing. But to win a state championship with my team would be remembered forever at Lockport. We would go down in history and we would be remembered as that team and those 22 guys together. That would be the ultimate."
Have you always played defense in football?
"Growing up, I played both offensive and defensive lines. As a freshman, I was a tight end and a fullback on the team but that was the last time I played offense. Also in my eighth-grade year, I moved to linebacker but that didn't work out. I don't like it. I don't like to sit back and read the plays, I'd rather just go fight in the trenches."
What opponent are you looking forward to playing the most this season?
"We want to take every week, every game seriously. We don't want to overlook anything, anyone, because anything can happen. Sure, we want to look ahead but know we can't."
What have you learned from Lockport football coach, George Czart?
He's taught the whole team a lot of lessons. We have to stay as a unit and do our jobs. He's taught us how to to make our defense work and be more fluent."
If you could be one animal, which animal would it be and why?
"A shark. The reason is that a shark can move fast and can smell blood in the water. I feel the same way in competition. I can sense a weakness and I get after it. So it's like I smell blood in the water."
One more question along these lines. Which sport are you going to play in college, football or wrestling?
"I don't know yet. A lot of schools want me for both. That would be ideal. I still have time so we will see after the football and wrestling seasons."
What is the best thing about being an athlete at Lockport?
The atmosphere. You are looked at as an example as an athlete. The best part is when you are looked at as a member of a great team here. All the sayings of 'Porter Pride' and 'once a Porter, always a Porter' are true. You are part of the tradition and the tradition of being together."
By Randy Whalen
Hayden Timosciek is a senior at Lockport Township and is the starting quarterback on the football team.
1. Here we are, the season gets underway this week. What are your expectations?
I want an undefeated season and I want to win state. It's just a matter of not taking our foot off the gas. We have the talent to do it.
2.You weren't even born yet when the Porters won the back-to-back Class 8A State titles in the fall of 2002 and 2003. What would it be like to quarterback the team that does it again?
It would really mean a lot. Bringing back a state championship would mean so much to the school. We want to bring back that sort of winning culture and we have been.
3. How long have you been playing football?
I've been playing ever since the first grade. I played for the (Homer) Stallions and growing up I always played offensive and defensive lines. I never played quarterback until my freshman year of high school. It was just me wanting to try something new. I used to play baseball. I was a pitcher, first baseman, or catcher, and I knew I could throw.
4. Since you're 6-foot-7, how often do people ask if you play basketball?
Yes, anytime I go anywhere, people ask if I play basketball. I played it my freshman year here but not after that. I quit playing baseball after my sophomore year. I also played volleyball at Homer Jr. High in the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades. But now it's just being a quarterback in football.
5. What is it about football that makes it the sport for you?
It's really just the pressure I feel. I'm a very competitive person. That's why I like the quarterback position. I feel like I'm in control."
6. What opponent are you looking forward to playing the most this season?
Lincoln-Way East. But that's an obvious one. But besides East, Homewood-Flossmoor. We lost to them in the opener in the spring but if we would have hit them later in the spring, we would have been more ready.
7. What have you learned from Lockport football coach, George Czart?
Just dedication, dedication, dedication. He preaches to do it right or don't do it at all. Also, he's really personable.
8. If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?
Superman, because he's perfect. You have all these superheroes, with all their kinks and flaws, and then he's just perfect.
9. Have you committed to playing football at a college yet?
No. Right now I'm open. I'm hoping for the right place and also hoping for a D1 school. I'm striving to do well this season and see from there. But I am going to graduate early from Lockport.
10. What is the best thing about being an athlete at Lockport?
The brotherhood. Not only the brotherhood on the field but also in the hallways, in the classroom, and in the community.
By Randy Whalen
Marcos Voulgaris attnded them all.
The former Lockport Township quarterback went to just about every youth camp offered at Lockport as a kid.
"I came here all the time," Voulgaris said of the youth camps. "Football, baseball, volleyball, every one of them, I was there."
So when Lockport held its annual football youth summer camp between Monday, July 19 and Thursday, July 22, Voulgaris was there to help out his old team.
"I did them all as a kid and it was great to come back now," said Voulgaris, who graduated in the spring of 2020. "So it was great to come back here now."
When he was at Lockport, Voulgaris played varsity football and baseball, but really excelled at football as the starting quarterback of the team his junior and senior seasons. So he was more than glad to help out at the camp.
"I looked up to them when I was here," he said of the Porter football players that helped put on the camp when he was a youth. "So it was great to come back here and show that Porter pride.
"My family has a long history here (his dad, Spiro, was the football team quarterback and led the Porters to their first-ever playoff win in 1985, and his late father-in-law Dick Dystrup, was a teacher and coach at Lockport and also mayor of the city). So I'm all in on the community here and whatever will help the town and the school."
After attending Butler University this past school season and playing tight end on the abbreviated football season in the spring, Voulgaris has transferred to Augustana University starting this fall.
There he said he is "excited for things to come." But he was also excited about helping out at the youth camp.
"They get to see everything," Voulgaris said of the youth campers. "It's a great learning experience for them and they get to meet new people, do what it takes to be on a team, and learn a lot of new skills."
The camp is specifically designed for all youth players to practice and develop skills at offensive and defensive positions with drills led by Lockport coaches and varsity football players.
It was a non-padded, no-contact camp that ran for two hours between 5:30 and 7:30 PM on those four days. The $60 cost included a Porter football camp T-shirt.
"We didn't get to do the camp last year because of COVID," Lockport football coach George Czart said. "But we had some good numbers (on Day 1, Monday, July 19). We had 60 some people registered but also a lot of walkups."
The kids, all in grade school, enjoyed the experience. They got to move to different stations with different drills throughout the camp.
"We had one second-grader here," Czart said. "We divide the groups by age, all the way up to eighth grade. We rotate and we introduce every skill to every kid. We teach them all the aspects of the game. As they get older they grow into their position."
A main thing is that the camp not only teaches skills to the younger kids, it introduces them to Porter football with players and coaches there. The team went 4-2 this past spring and is expecting to do well this fall.
"We want to promote the game of football the right way," Czart said. "It's about teamwork, hard work, and discipline. We want the kids to learn what Lockport football is all about and reap the benefits of the game."
By Randy Whalen
There was normality to the Lockport Township football offseason.
As the Porters prepare for this coming fall season, they had the usual summer practice sessions during July. But still, due to this past football season being moved to spring due to COVID-19, it was the shortest offseason in school history.
"Last year wasn't the same as this," Lockport senior running back Andrew LoPresti said of the Porters practices last summer, which were held with masks outdoors and limited contact. "It's really good to get the team together. We all mesh, get the guys into the varsity system, and get refreshed."
LoPresti burst on the scene for the Porters this past spring. Ty Schultz, who suffered an ACL injury in his left knee before the season and was out for this past campaign, was the team-leading rusher as a sophomore. But with him out, LoPresti shouldered the load.
Schultz, who is also a senior, will hopefully be healthy this fall and that should lead to a two-tier rushing attack.
"Ty should be back at 100 percent and that's exciting," LoPresti said. "It's going to be interesting. But we will have four new offensive linemen and a new starting quarterback. Still, we should be good."
Hayden Timosciek, who played a lot as a junior this past season, is expected to be the starter. But everything will be decided when practice opens on Monday, August 9.
But coming off a 4-2 season in the spring, their first winning record since 2016, the Porters should be strong. There are many returners on defense, including senior twin defensive lineman Cody and Cole Silzer.
Not only are the two teammates in high school but they will be in college too. They have both committed to continuing their football careers at Eastern Illinois University.
"That was not planned but they wanted both of us," Cole Silzer said of both he and his twin brother going to Eastern, "We've done a lot of lifting this summer and when practicing now it's fast-paced."
Cole Silzer, who will play defensive end, was glad to get back on the field and get ready for this season.
"We've been out on the field for a couple of weeks now," Cole Silzer said on Wednesday, July 21. "We will be just doing lifting and running (in the final practice) week. I know my position well and will get stronger. We've got a lot of new guys on the team too and they're learning."
The bottom line is Cole Silzer knows the Porters can be really good this fall.
"I expect everyone to play hard and for us to get a lot of wins," he said. "We're going for a 9-0 record. We beat (Lincoln-Way) East our sophomore year (on the sophomore level) and we want to do it again."
Lockport was hanging with Lincoln-Way East, which is 32-1 in the past three seasons, this past spring. The Porters led 10-7 late in the first half, before losing 34-10. The Griffins are obviously the gold standard in not only the SouthWest Suburban Conference but the state.
So competing with them begins in the summer workouts. Lockport coach George Czart knows that but was also thankful that the team could resume the usual routine this summer.
"Last year we all had to divide into groups," Crazt said of the distancing protocol that was in place a year ago. "Now the only thing (that was the same as last summer) is that we have to wear masks inside."
With the Porters doing a lot of weight training in regard to their preparation, Czart likes to see the results of that and knows there is more to come by the time the season starts.
"We've got to work on our skills and showcase the gains we've made in the weight room," he said. "Now (during the practices) we work on our football-specific skills and implement them. We want to regain that timing.
"This (week of July 19-23) was a busy week (due to youth camp) but well worth it. We're settling in. I'm optimistic, anxious, and excited."
Because of the coronavirus pandemic moving last season to this spring, there were 511 days between the end of the 2019 campaign in the start of this past one. This time there are only 126 days between seasons as the Porters will open play this fall on Friday, Aug. 27 with a 6:30 PM game at Joliet West.
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