Photo by Jeff Vorva
Nick Puente of Oak Lawn takes a break during Friday night’s game in which he ran for 224 yards in a victory over Argo.
That’s the Oak Lawn football team’s mantra these days.
After the Spartans beat Argo, 26-7 in a Southwest Suburban Red game Friday night, senior running back Nick Puente (who rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries) talked about TPW.
“We have our own motto,” Puente said. “It means Tough People Win.”
Puente has been pretty tough this year as he racked up 752 yards and 10 touchdowns in five games and added a kickoff return touchdown in a loss to Bremen. He stayed pretty consistent with games of 147, 116, 123 and 142 yards before exploding against the Argonauts.
Marc Virusso added 85 yards and two scores and Kameron McNicholas registered a sack on defense.
Their work helped the Spartans improve to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the league and kept their hopes alive for a rare playoff appearance.
“We told ourselves if we’re 3-2, then we got some options,” Spartans coach Nick Novak said. “We need to focus on our upcoming games this year, so we can pound them out and get some wins along the way to be in that position.”
They have a tough game coming up at Shepard Friday followed by a home game with Reavis Oct. 6 and closing out with road games at Evergreen Park and Richards.
It has been nine years since the Oak Lawn’s football team had won its last SSC championship. The Spartans clinched a playoff berth in the Illinois High School Association Class 6A State playoffs with a 6-3 regular season during the 2008 season under former head coach Ron Thornburgh. Oak Lawn returned back to the state playoffs the following year which turned out to be their last winning season. The Spartans lost to Danville, 50-0.
Novak made his head coaching debut in 2015, and he has been on a mission to help Oak Lawn’s football team get back to winning.
The Spartans have a chance to return to the playoffs this season and need to squeeze out two more wins for consideration and three more to guarantee a spot.
“Every game is not going to be easy for us,” Novak said. “We got to focus and come to work every day in practice.”
Argo fell to 1-4, 1-2 and came into the game with some momentum after knocking off Evergreen Park, 21-20, on a late touchdown Sept. 15. Running back X’Zavier Reed scored a touchdown in the third quarter for Argo’s lone score.