Recap: Lyons 24, Stevenson 19

Lyons TownshipStevensonWESTERN SPRINGS -- Lyons Township High School quarterback Connor Onion kept the offense moving in his first varsity start, and the Lions' playmaking defense took care of the rest.

Onion completed passes to seven different receivers and No. 20 Lyons forced five turnovers and blocked a punt in its 24-19 season-opening win over No. 16 Stevenson on Friday night.

The five turnovers included a game-sealing interception by Conner Wasz, who picked off Stevenson quarterback Matt Micucci inside Lyons' 20-yard line with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter. It was one of four interceptions by the host Lions, who found themselves in the right place at the right time from the opening kickoff.

"Obviously, our secondary came up huge," Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg said. "We got a lot of guys, athletically, who can play very, very well. We came up with some huge stops, but also some big turnovers when we needed them."

Onion, meanwhile, played calm and collected. In Lyons' four- and five-receiver spread offense, he completed 20-of-33 for 190 yards and a touchdown to receiver Matthew Harris. Harris and Rennick Thompson tied for the team lead with six catches.

Perhaps most importantly, Onion didn't throw an interception.

"Everyone this week was saying, 'You're going to throw up. You're going to be nervous. Your knees are going to be shaking,'" Onion said. "But I felt confident, and the coaches prepared us well."

Onion said getting called up to varsity team at the end of last season helped prepared him for Friday's win. It was a big one, too: Stevenson had won 19 straight regular-season games.

"I didn't know that," Weinberg said. "Ultimately, just beating a great program like Stevenson makes you feel good. We know who they are, and we know what they do. They win football games. They hit you in the mouth, and we knew it would be a tough one coming (into the game). I'm just happy to beat Stevenson."

While Lyons' offense was often methodical, using short passes to rack up 15 first downs, its defense played with exclamation points. Evan Booth had two interceptions while Jamari Burks added another. It wasn't just the defensive backs, though. Jimmy Mitchell recovered the blocked punt in the first quarter and Robert Mitchell recovered the fumble before halftime.

The win is an early boost for the Lions, whose difficult schedule includes Downers Grove South and Glenbard West in the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, Stevenson's bid for a 23rd consecutive playoff berth hit a Week 1 snag.

"We turned the ball over tonight," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. "We gave them more opportunities than they could ever ask for. Hats off to Lyons. They took advantage of it. We got some work to do. We'll get better."

Stevenson never led but had its chances. Anthony Bozin's and Nathan Kahn's short touchdown runs in the second and fourth quarters, respectively, pulled the Patriots with a score. But each of their next possessions ended with turnovers, including the final interception at the end of the game.

"It's real disappointing," said Stevenson wide receiver Troy Radtke, who hauled in a game-high seven catches for 169 yards. "But after the slow start, I'm really proud of our team after coming back and digging deep in the second half. We really showed a lot of heart out there."

One of the Lions' most dangerous weapons, Will Konstant, limped off the field with an ankle injury late in the third quarter and did not return. He often replaced Onion when Lyons' offense moved inside the 10-yard line and twice scored on 1-yard touchdown runs.

Players of the game: Lyons -- QB Connor Onion (Jr.) 20-for-33, 190 yards, TD; WR/DB Evan Booth (Sr.) two INTs. Stevenson -- WR/DB Troy Radtke (Sr.) 7 receptions, 169 yards, TD.

Stat of the game: Stevenson quarterback Matt Micucci, who doubles as the team's kicker, missed an extra point after converting all 47 of his attempts last season.

It was over when: Lyons defensive back Conner Wasz intercepted Stevenson's Matt Micucci inside Lyons' 20-yard line with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter.

Quote of the night: "There's some things we'd like him to do better," Weinberg said of Onion, "But all in all, I think he ran the machine well and ran the show well. He did a good job distributing the ball and understanding what we were after. I think he did a good job for his first start, for sure."