Host Lincoln-Way West owned Lincoln-Way Central in the first half of Friday’s SouthWest Suburban Red finale.
At the end of the night, the Warriors owned a conference crown.
The 38-19 victory was an impressive finishing kick for the Warriors (8-1, 6-1), who went into the night tied at the top with Lincoln-Way North, which they beat earlier in the season.
“That’s real big,” West running back Gabe Montalvo said. “I don’t even know what to say. Our offense and defense is just really good. We just played really good all year. We just want to keep going on with the season.”
Montalvo rushed 28 times for 144 yards and the Warriors’ first touchdown. Quarterback Connor Lowman (12-for-17, 113 yards) threw for two scores.
Connor Campbell threw for 203 yards and two TDs for Lincoln-Way Central (5-4, 4-3).
West controlled the entire first half, but success didn’t come until after some major frustration.
The Warriors on their first possession chewed up 75 yards and more than nine minutes of clock, before on a fourth-and-goal from the 1, Montalvo was stopped.
“I couldn’t be really mad. Most of it was my fault,” Montalvo said. “I ran the track too close when I should have gone to the outside. That should have been a touchdown. But the defense came back and stopped them.”
A good punt return by Nick Paniak allowed the Warriors to set up shop at the Central 20, from where Montalvo blasted through a hole on the left side and scored.
From there, things happened quickly. On the Warriors’ next possession they went 82 yards, the capper an eight-yard toss from Lowman to Joe Shirley.
The backbreaker play of the half was turned in by West defender Trey Telez, who tackled Central running back Sean Studer as he was trying to corral a shaky handoff. The ball came loose at the Central 11. Telez picked it up and rambled to the end zone.
“First time, I went through, hit the kid, saw the ball on the ground, all right. Got to go,” Telez said.
Mike Pratl, who was 3-for-3 on PATs, booted a 20-yard field goal to send the Warriors into the half up 24-0.
“Their kids were far more aggressive than our kids in the first half,” Central coach Hud Venerable said.
“That’s the disappointing thing, the aggressiveness. I can’t put my finger on why. We haven’t played like that. But you have to give credit to your opponent. So that’s what I’m doing.”
Central broke through midway through the third quarter on a Campbell to Nick Smith 17-yard touchdown pass, but West answered with a Lowman to Kurtis Flondor three-yard touchdown toss.
Joe Nealon (20-yard reception) and Quintin Miller (five-yard run) added scores for the Knights, while Adam Kneer (four-yard run) had West’s last TD.