Hinsdale South wins defensive showdown with Downers North

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DARIEN — Malik Gordon competed in his second game Friday night as a offensive lineman for Hinsdale South.

The radical experiment of moving the former wide receiver to the line seems to be working.

Gordon, a senior who would have been the top returning receiver for the Hornets this season, is making the transition from one position known for individual highlights to a more anonymous role as a blocker for senior quarterback Rob Regan and junior running back Marcus Curry.

Gordon isn’t complaining.

“I want this team to win,” said Gordon, who played wide receiver for three years in Hinsdale South’s program.

In Hinsdale South’s 6-0 nonconference victory against Downers North on Friday in Darien, two of the first three plays were carries behind the 6-6, 230-pound Gordon at right tackle.

In a defensive battle, the game’s only score occurred with 1 minute, 42 seconds remaining before the half when Regan (16 carries, 98 yards) ran five yards up the middle for a touchdown. After a botched snap for the extra point, holder Sean McCormack’s pass attempt fell short.

Gordon’s offseason commitment to weight training caused the Hinsdale South coaching staff to reconsider his role as a wide receiver. Gordon gained 20 pounds in the spring.

Coach Mike Barry and offensive line coach Kraig Conyer started using Gordon in the summer on an offensive line that did not return any starters from last season.

“The team has helped me out,” Gordon said. “Everybody thought I can do it. I put in the work in the weight room and I was already working out at Lifetime Fitness.”

Gordon isn’t a complete stranger to the offensive line. He’s played left tackle, but that was in seventh and eighth grade for his Cass Jr. High team in Darien.

Barry said part of the high-school coaching experience is seeing athletes grow. That’s why, in one year, a player such as Gordon can go from being a receiver to an offensive lineman.

“You see them get faster, they get bigger, they get stronger,” Barry said.

The rest of Hinsdale South’s starting offensive line has years of experience, led by left tackle Ikjot Wahi, guards Darrick Miller and Conner Pilch and center Christopher Oehmen.

“Malik is a big, physical kid. When you saw him, you would say he plays well in a phone booth,” Barry said. “He’s better in close spaces. Colleges like his frame. If he plays at the next level, it will be on the offensive line.”

  • Regan now throws to a wide receiving corps dominated by juniors.“I’m playing with good receivers, although they are juniors,” Regan said. “We have Josh King, Ravon Johnson, Boye, Connor McCormack and Jevais Harris. They are a bunch of guys that can make plays.”Against Downers North (1-1), Regan completed seven passes: three to Boye (18 yards), two to Harris (12) and a three-yard pass to Johnson.
  • Hinsdale South (2-0) played without starting senior defensive end Matt Brandeis, who was out due to a foot injury. Brandeis is expected to return at Willowbrook Friday for the West Suburban Gold opener. Brandeis was replaced by junior Matt McClelland.
  • Hinsdale South and Downers North combined for 98 offensive yards during a rainy first half. The two teams had five first downs during the first half.
  • Downers North senior quarterback David Edwards, a 6-7, 240-pounder who’s committed to Wisconsin as a tight end, suffered an injury to his left knee with 47 seconds to go in the third quarter and could not return. He completed 2-of-8 passes for 12 yards and gained 28 yards on 14 carries.
  • The Trojans drove to the Hornets 24, but backup QB Kenny Yeo threw an interception with 1:29 remaining.
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