Football: Leyden’s Mike Morrison and Co. ground Fenton air attack
Leyden's #14 Adam Morrison and #40 Carlos Colon during the football opener between Leyden and Fenton at Fenton High School in Bensenville Friday August 24, 2012 | James C. Svehla~for Sun-Times Media
This Week Leyden
Hosts Illiana Christian, 5:30 p.m.
Hosts Riverside Brookfield, 5:30 p.m.
Hosts Hinsdale Central at West Campus, 7:30 p.m.
Hosts Willowbrook at White Pines, 4 p.m.
At Fenton Invite, 6:15 a.m.
At Downers Grove South, 4 p.m.
At Elk Grove H.S. at Fox Run Golf Links, 3:30 p.m.
At St. Ignatius, 12 p.m.
At Pepsi Showdown, TBA, 6:30 p.m.
At Pepsi Showdown, TBA, 6:30 p.m.
Hosts Bartlett at West Campus, 5 p.m.
Hosts Fenton at West Campus, 5 p.m.
Hosts Maine East At West Campus, 4:30 p.m.
Hosts Willowbrook At West Campus, 4:30 p.m.
At Fenton, 4:30 p.m.
At Morton, 4:30 p.m.
At Hinsdale South, 6 p.m.
Updated: October 1, 2012 4:28PM
BENSENVILLE — The sores of last season’s Opening Night loss to Fenton still lingered a year later.
The Leyden Eagles were poised to get 2011 off on the right foot, holding a fourth-quarter lead over visiting Fenton and offensive guru Otto Zeman.
But sooner than you could say “spread offense”, the Bison rallied for the 30-29 victory, laying the groundwork for what would be a disappointing season for the Fenton defense.
“There was a lot of weight on defensive coach Anthony Zitzka,” senior linebacker Adam Morrison recalled a year later. “We’ve been working two weeks to get prepared for this game.”
The preparations paid off in a 34-0 throttling of Fenton Friday in front of the Bison’s home fans.
While the Eagles unleashed a devastating running game, highlighted by Mickey Gulo’s 209-yard effort, of bigger concern was how Leyden’s defense would handle the explosive passing attack engineered by Zeman, known for putting up video game numbers while the head coach at Riverside-Brookfield.
The answer was very well, indeed. The Bison’s first four possessions ended with two punts and two fumbles. Quarterbacks Angel Velasco and Willie Wassmann combined for 20-of-46 passing for 134 yards and collected nary a whiff of the end zone.
“A great job by the defense,” said Leyden head coach Tom Cerasani. “That’s a high-flying attack. I thought the secondary and linebackers put pressure on the quarterback. That’s a tough offense to play against.”
A seasoned defensive corps, anchored by 6-foot-2 linebacker Morrison and 6-3 senior Javier Rhoades, was enhanced in the offseason by newcomers — 6-1 junior linebacker Will Napier and junior tackle Henry Holguin, who sat out Friday’s opener.
“I think the biggest difference (this year) is the kids are seniors,” said Leyden defensive coach Zitzka. “And it doesn’t hurt that a kid transferred in from Mount Carmel and a kid transferred in from Montini.”
They showed their capabilities on Fenton’s first series of downs. With Velasco taking snaps in the shotgun, Rhoades roared in from the right side and separated the Bison QB from the ball at midfield. Morrison was right there to scoop up the fumble.
“Our defense was phenomenal,” said Rhoades. “We played our butts off.”
Leyden ‘s defense, offense and special teams all contributed as the Eagles took a good step toward making the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Mindful that Leyden last year followed up its collapse against Fenton with a 42-0 thumping by Hinsdale Central (and losses in Weeks 4 and 5 to Downers South, 49-0, and Hinsdale South, 60-35), the Eagles are cautious about returning home Friday to face the Red Devils.
“Otto Zeman has a unique offensive philosophy,” said Zitzka. “You always have to be aware of who’s an eligible receiver, and who’s not.
“Hinsdale Central has a lot of big kids, but I think we match up pretty well against the teams we’re playing this year.”
Hinsdale Central also won its opener over St. Charles North, 30-0.