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Saturday, October 22, 2011
Defense keeps Lemont perfect this season

By Caleb Benoit

LEMONT, Ill. -- Lemont's suffocating defense claimed another victim, and the No. 11 Indians notched another unblemished regular season.

Next up: a home playoff game and a daunting task for the opposing offense.

Lemont Oak ForestLemont forced four first-half turnovers, and only two meaningless touchdowns in the fourth quarter blemished what could have been a sixth shutout of the season. Instead, the Indians settled for a 41-13 win over Oak Forest on Friday night.

Lemont (9-0) had already claimed the South Suburban Blue title and its eighth straight playoff berth, but the regular season needed a punctuation mark. The Indians delivered it in convincing fashion.

The defense forced five turnovers in all, and quarterback Damon Aleman threw three touchdown passes. Two went to Tyler Jay, his only receptions of the game.

It wasn't another blanking, but it was a dominating performance in a rivalry-game win.

"Can't ask for anything better," said Aleman, whose defense entered the game allowing just four points per game. "I'm sorry they didn't get their shutout, but they still played great."

The perfect regular season is Lemont's second in a row and third in four seasons. But nine wins in nine games is more of a beginning than an end.

"Our next goal is to win as many games in the playoffs as we can," Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen said. "There's a lot that goes into that."

Oak Forest (6-3), too, had already qualified for the playoffs, but the Bengals struggled mightily on Friday. Three straight drives to end the first half resulted in interceptions: two by Lemont's Jake Lemming and another by Mike Monaco. They also lost a fumble, recovered by Justin Lulek, and allowed a kickoff to be recovered by Lemming.

Oak Forest coach Brian McDonough gave his players a lengthy speech after the game. He hopes those words help translate into a first-round win next week.

"It's our national championship. It our Super Bowl," McDonough told his team. "Whatever you want to call it, we need a big win."

Lemont got one in the regular-season finale. Its players are preparing for a few more.

"We're going to prepare for them like we'd prepare for any other team," Aleman said of his team's next opponent, not yet determined on Friday night. "We're not going to take them easy."

Players of the game: Lemont -- QB Damon Aleman (Sr.) 6-of-10 passing, 181 yards, 3 TDs; Mike Anzalone (Sr.) 23 attempts, 126 yards; WR Tyler Jay (Sr.) 2 receptions, 111 yards, 2 TDs; DB Jake Lemming (Jr.) 2 INTs, kickoff recovery. Oak Forest -- RB Matt Barry 22 attempts, 88 yards, TD.

Stat of the game: Before halftime, Lemont's defense forced twice as many turnovers (4) as Oak Forest's offense had first downs (2).

It was over when: Christos Giatras' 15-yard touchdown run -- and two-point conversion reception -- capped Lemont's 14-play drive to start the second half and gave the Indians a 27-0 advantage.

Quote of the night: "The thing is, we have so many things that we have to improve upon," Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen said. "We can always work on tackling and blocking. We can always do that better. We're not going to come out and be complacent."