By Mark Gregory
Last season, both Bolingbrook and Downers Grove South had seasons marred by injury and season that both teams were looking to put behind them when they met head to head to open the 2017-18 season.
It was the Raiders that grabbed that first win, taking the game 35-10, to claim their first opening day win since the 2013-14 season.
“It was fun,” Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow said. “It has been a while since we won our opener and we needed this. They [Downers Grove South] have a good squad. They were undefeated as freshmen and sophomores and last year they had some injuries, so this is their team and their year. They are good sized – I didn’t k now how big they were. They are a big team and a physical team – they will be fine.”
The Raiders got on the board first when Anthony Vespo hit sophomore Antonio King for a 36-yard touchdown with 10 minutes, 8 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Mustangs tied it up with their lone TD of the game when Matt Greenwald hit Vinny Provenzano for a 22-yard score to take advantage of a recovered fumble.
Bolingbrook struck back with 5:13 remaining in the half when Anthony Williams Jr. rushed in from 14-yards out.
A 4-yard Provenzano field goal would round out the scoring for the half and ended the night’s scoring for the Mustangs.
With 11:53 remaining in the third quarter, Elisha Armstrong made the play of the game for Bolingbrook, when he got in the backfield and all but took the handoff from Greenwald and took it the other way for the score.
“How about that strip sack Elisha Armstrong had. He took the handoff and went in for the touchdown,” Ivlow said. “That was the spark.”
Bolingbrook would score two more times – once on a 10-yard run by Williams and on a one-yard plunge from Tysen Noble.
The goal for the Raiders coming into this season was to score more points than last season.
“We scored some points and we probably left a few out there,” Ivlow said. “But all in all In general, they all did a good job. We eliminated the mistakes in the second half and we all played well.”
Bolingbrook was paced by Williams, who carried the ball 23 times for 94 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Vespo completed 12-of-15 passes for 177 yards and a score. King caught six passes for 133 yards and a score.
For Downers South, Greenwald was 8-for-24 for 138 yards, one TD and one interception. He also carried the ball nine times for 30 yards.
Provenzano caught five passes for 6 yards and a score.
The Bolingbrook defensive line, paced by 6-foot, 3-inch, 275 senior Dashaun Mallory.
“He is a handful,” Downers South coach Mark Molinari said. “We knew he was a nice player and he was even better than we expected.”
Despite the loss, Molinari sees promise in South’s future this season.
“On offense, we only really had Matt Greenwald back with any game experience and he only had four games, so some guts played like first-year varsity players. He did some nice things and he is still coming back from injury.” Molinari said. “I think we will be OK. Bolingbrook played well, but there are things that I think we will correct and we will be OK In the long run. I like our kids’ effort and how we responded. Credit to Bolingbrook, they took advantage of the opportunities. I thought our defense played well, but after a while we went three and out, we can’t keep the defense on the field all night. We made some physical mistakes that are correctable.
“Of course we want to win games, but the main goal of this team is to win conference and everything we are doing is building toward that.”