By Jake Krzeczowski | Contributor | @Pioneer_Press October 19, 2012 9:16PM
Names in the Game:ANDREW GARCIA Noteworthy efforts: The senior wide receiver caught eight passes for 107 yards and a touchdown in the football team’s 18-7 win over Proviso East Friday. The Eagles clinched their first outright conference championship since 1979.
NORTHLAKE — Halfway through Friday’s contest against Proviso East, Leyden found itself in unfamiliar territory — tied going into halftime.
With a much-anticipated matchup against Lyons coming up, the Eagles were in danger of an unsightly upset. The Pirates’ big defensive line stuffed the gaps, giving Leyden a hard time getting anything going on offense.
Senior quarterback Mike Smith was looking for a saving grace and he found it in senior wide receiver Andrew Garcia, who stepped up to help deliver the Eagles their first outright West Suburban championship since 1979.
“He’s got my back and I have his,” Smith said. “We’ve been playing together since freshman year. He’s definitely my go-to receiver.”
That familiarity came in handy in the second quarter when Smith found Garcia facing man coverage and hit him down the middle of the field for a 20-yard touchdown.
“We saw the safeties were playing man on the slot receiver so I just ran a good slant, caught it and got into the end zone,” Garcia said.
After Proviso East capitalized on a Smith interception, scoring on a 1-yard run by Lawrence Griffith, the score was knotted to end the second quarter.
“Early on we just couldn’t stick it in the end zone,” said coach Tom Cerasani. “Sometimes it’s tough to keep focus this time of the year, especially having already secured the conference championship.”
With a half of football standing between the Eagles and an outright championship, the team’s large senior class made sure everyone knew what was on the line.
“I pointed to our crowd and told the guys we wanted it more. We expected to win and we did,” senior running back Mickey Gulo said.
Leyden proved it wanted it more in the second half and Garcia was there the whole way.
As an occasional defensive back, the wide receiver takes notes on how receivers and defenders react to one another coming off the line and running routes.
“I understand how it feels to be a defensive back so I try to mix it up a lot on my routes,” said Garcia, who posted career highs of eight catches and 107 yards against the Pirates. “(Smith and I) play baseball together and are always around each other so the chemistry has developed.”
That craftiness paid off in the second half as Garcia came through with two tough catches after the half to help his team overcome some sticky third-down situations and seal the game for good.
“(Garcia) made some big plays that kept us in the game at times,” Cerasani said. “We were struggling a little bit there and he made some big plays.”
Names in the Game
Noteworthy efforts: The senior wide receiver caught eight passes for 107 yards and a touchdown in the football team’s 18-7 win over Proviso East Friday. The Eagles clinched their first outright conference championship since 1979.
Noteworthy efforts: The junior middle hitter came up big to help the Leyden volleyball team beat Elmwood Park 25-20, 25-17 on Oct. 10.
1999 | The last time the Leyden football team won eight regular-season games. The Eagles (7-1) can reach that total with a win Friday at Lyons.