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Four Downs: News and notes from Week 8 in high school football

Lincoln-Way East’s young team, a Springfield legend, Oswego’s star running back and Wauconda history.

Lincoln-Way East’s Jack Tremblay (15) scores a touchdown against Lockport.
Lincoln-Way East’s Jack Tremblay (15) scores a touchdown against Lockport.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Lincoln-Way East is clearly going through a rebuilding year. The Griffins are playing young guys all over the field.

“We had 16 kids start or rotate in [against Lockport] that are going to be on our team next year,” Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said. “Nine or ten juniors and five sophomores playing with everything on the line. The future is bright.”

The biggest difference between the current team and the dominant squads of the past few years is size. Lincoln-Way East’s linemen are normal sized these days, not giants. In fact, Lockport was clearly the bigger team in the trenches during the Griffins’ 12-10 win against the previously unbeaten Porters on Friday.

That made Lincoln-Way East running back Trey Johnson’s performance even more impressive. Johnson, a senior, had 32 carries for 127 yards. Johnson is a violent, aggressive, punishing runner. That’s a combination that isn’t common in the area this season

The Griffins may not be as dominant as the past few seasons, but Johnson and receiver Jack Tremblay, a Central Michigan recruit, provide two breakout weapons on offense.

Zvonar’s defense is as organized and effective as ever, which will surprise no one. Lincoln-Way East will be a significant threat in the playoffs.

“We hope to make a deep playoff run and you never know,” Zvonar said. “After [beating Lockport] this group will believe anything is possible.”

Oswego’s star running back

Oswego knocked off rival Oswego East 38-14 on Saturday. It’s the 16th win for the Panthers in the 17 games the teams have played. Oswego East won for the first time in the spring.

The Panthers still weren’t able to crack the Super 25 rankings, but they are on a roll with six consecutive wins.

Senior running back Mark Melton has been posting spectacular numbers for Oswego. He had 23 carries for 203 yards and two touchdowns against Oswego East, 176 against West Aurora and 241 against Minooka.

Springfield legend

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin beat Normal U-High 49-6 on Friday to earn longtime coach Ken Leonard his 400th win.

Leonard became the state’s winningest coach in 2018, he’s led the Cyclones to five state championships and is 400-80 overall in 42 seasons.

“I still love what I’m doing,” Leonard told the State Journal Register after Friday’s win. “Some people get out and retire way too early because if you love what you’re doing, why do you have to stop? I don’t have long — I don’t know exactly how long I’ve got — but I can see the end from here.”

Wauconda history

Wauconda beat Grayslake North 62-30 on Friday to win its first conference title since 1972. The Bulldogs are undefeated and having their best season since they went 7-3 in 2007-08.

Wauconda has shut out Proviso West, Riverside-Brookfield, Grant and North Chicago this season. The Bulldogs are at Round Lake in Week 9 and will have a lofty seed in the Class 6A playoff pairings, which will be released on Saturday.