Football rushes to a 1-0 start with 35-26 win over Amundsen


Lane’s Casey Joyce tries to rush around the Amundsen defense.

By Alex Burstein, Editor-in-Chief

It was a tale of two stories for the Lane Tech offense in their season opener.

Fans hoping for some high-flying offense may have gone home disappointed, with Lane only attempting four passes the whole game, three going incomplete and one getting intercepted.

But, for fans of the run game, it was a thriller. Behind strong offensive line play, Lane ran for 279 yards, including four rushing touchdowns.

Even with their passing woes, Lane’s run game was just enough, as the Lane Tech Champions (1-0) took a 35-26 victory over the Amundsen Vikings (0-1) on a perfect late summer afternoon at the Nike Kickoff Classic hosted at Winnemac Stadium.

Leading Lane’s rushing attack in the win was led by athlete Finn Merrill, who took home player of the game.

“Finn is a special kid,” Lane Head Coach Dedrick Dewalt said after the win. “Finn gets the job done. He’s a senior. He’s a guy that we’re going to be leaning on a lot this year.

The senior rushed for 174 yards on 28 carries and had two rushing touchdowns in the winning effort.

The first rushing touchdown came almost immediately out of the gate. After recovering a muffed catch by Amundsen on the kickoff, on the fifth play of the game, Merrill took the ball three yards as Lane took an early lead with 8:53 to go in the first.

But Amundsen responded with an 81-yard kickoff return and four-yard rushing touchdown the next play to knot the game up at seven. This set the momentum for a back-and-forth affair the whole afternoon. 

The Vikings way occasionally able to exploit the Champions’ defense, getting the a few long yardage play with open down-field receivers.

Lane had a different strategy. While they did have six runs of ten yards or more, the Champions averaged five yards per carry and oftentimes would slowly move the ball up the field, converting third and fourth downs to stay in the drive.

Even with the different play styles, it was close through the first two quarters. Lane took a 21-20 lead into the break after a one-yard rushing touchdown late in the first by sophomore fullback Spiro Memmos (11 carries, 36 yards) and Merrill’s second touchdown, a 14-yard run off of a pitch, with 3:25 to go in the half.

The Champions picked up where they left off in the second half. Senior Casey Joyce (13 carries, 51 yards), who mainly played as a receiver last year, rushed 21 yards to the end zone on the first drive of the second half, putting Lane up 28-20.

“For him to be a former receiver to go back to the running back position and run the way he did, it’s awesome,” Dewalt said.

Amundsen struck back with a 41-yard touchdown reception, but a missed two-point conversion put the game in Lane’s hands with 3:27 to go in the third.

While Lane tried to go up by two scores for the first time all day, instead they committed their first turnover of the season, an interception thrown by senior quarterback Mark Seward at the Vikings’ 43-yard line with 11 minutes to go in the game.

As Amundsen drove up the field, Lane’s defense came up with the most important play of the day. On a monster hit by sophomore cornerback Jacobi Thurmond, the Vikings receiver coughed up the ball, and Merrill, who plays on defense as well, recovered it, running it to the Lane Tech 45-yard line.

That was a momentum killer,” Merrill said after the win. “Jacobi had a great hit. I was there, picked up the fumble. And that was about it.”

After burning some clock, It seemed as if the Champions were in hot water may be in hot water again, with a late near fumble by Merrill close to their scoring end zone, that would have given the Vikings 90 seconds for one last drive. But the referees ruled Merrill down and senior athlete Yiannis Katsogridakis would punch in the final score of the game two plays later with a three-yard rushing touchdown.

“[This win] just builds these guys’ confidence,” Dewalt said. “We lost a lot with a lot of seniors graduating this year. We are primarily a young team, but this team came out and they persevered today, they showed a lot of grit.”

Lane will head home for the first time this season next Friday, as they host Thornton Fractional South (0-1) at 7:15 p.m. at Lane Stadium on Sept. 2.Coming into week two 1-0 it feels good,” Merrill said. “But we can’t make this a high. We have to come into next week strong.”