Leyden and host Willowbrook put their undefeated West Suburban Gold marks on the line Friday night.
And when all was said and done, Leyden was a 42-0 winner and one victory away from clinching its first outright division title since 1979.
The win pushed the Eagles to 6-1, 5-0 in the gold and clinched a playoff berth.
“I can’t put a finger on what makes this team great. They have been together as a group since they were kids,” Leyden coach Tom Cerasani said. “We don’t have a lot of great players, but we have a lot of solid players that care about each other and our defense has been tough.”
Leyden plays host to Proviso East next week in its final league game of the regular season, then travels to Lyons Twp. the following week for a West Suburban Conference crossover.
Leyden grabbed this game by the teeth early and didn’t let go.
Andrew Garcia reached the end zone first on a 45-yard pass play from Michael Smith on the opening possession of the game. Smith’s second touchdown throw of the half came early in the second quarter on a 46-yard connection to Mickey Gulo.
Javier Rhoades intercepted a pass and Smith scored on a 49-yard run to put the Eagles up 28-0 at intermission. Leyden led in offensive yardage at halftime 242-43, and the Eagles’ defense held the Willowbrook ground game to minus-6 yards and the passing game to 43 yards during the first 24 minutes.
“We wanted to take this game over right away,” Smith said.
Smith added a 15-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and teammate Frank Gulo hit end zone from 4 yards out with just less than two minutes left in the game.
“Every game has helped with experience. I feel like the quarterback now,” the senior said.
Willowbrook (5-2, 3-1) travels to District 88 rival Addison Trail next week and then plays host to Hinsdale South as it strives for the win that would clinch a playoff berth after the team went winless last season.
“We’ll learn from this game,” said Warriors coach Nick Hildreth. “We just can’t show up. If that happens, any team can beat us. If we play like we expect we can, we can compete.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.