Tigers Win Playoff Game on Way to Best EPHS Football Season Since 1985

Isaiah Paredes takes on a Back of the Yards opponent during the Tiger's Class 5A playoff victory over the Chicago school.

Isaiah Paredes (59) and a teammate take on a Back of the Yards opponent during the Tigers' IHSA Class 5A playoff victory over the Chicago school on Oct. 27. It was the EPHS football program's first playoff win since 1985. Scroll down this page for more photos from the first-round game. (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca)


The 2018 football season came to an end for the Elmwood Park Tigers on Saturday, Nov. 3, but not before the team compiled the program's best record in 33 years.

The Tigers fell in the second round of the IHSA Class 5A playoffs to host Evergreen Park 52-14 in front of a crowd that included a large contingent of Tiger fans.

Despite the loss, Coach Dylan Mack and his players had ample reason to take pride in their final record of 8-3.

That's the most wins for the EPHS football program since the 1985 team went 12-1 en route to an appearance in that year's Class 4A semifinals.

Prior to this season, the program's best records since that memorable semifinal run had been 7-3 in 2012 and 6-4 in 1991 and 2017. In each of those seasons, the Tigers made it to the IHSA playoffs but lost in the first round.


A Drought Ends with First-Round Success


But a continuation of that dry spell wasn't in the cards for this year, as the Tigers won their first-round matchup against Chicago Back of the Yards 41-18 on Oct. 27 at EPHS Stadium.

Elmwood Park rushed for 464 yards in the victory, only the second time in program history that the team won a first-round IHSA playoff game.

Highlights of the win included dominant performances by offensive linemen Devin Schmit, Dominic Caracci, Tommy Accardo, Gio Vega and Ben Robbs. 

They led the way for senior Luciano Martino to gain 179 yards on 15 carries, junior David Neira 151 yards on 23 rushes and senior Kris Diallo 93 yards on six runs.

"Up front, our offensive line was a strength for our team," Mack said after the game. "We did a real nice job up front. That was definitely what carried us through."

Junior quarterback Mike Stranski, meanwhile, led an efficient passing attack, and the defense held Back of the Yards' high-scoring offense in check throughout the game.


Luciana Martino rumbles towards the end zone against Chicago Back of the Yards.

PHOTO: Senior Luciano Martino (9) powers his way toward the end zone in the Tigers' playoff win over Back of the Yards. District 401 photo by Dave Porreca (click image for larger view).


A Season for the Record Books


Besides ending the program's 33-year playoff victory drought, the 2018 Tigers teamed up with last year's EPHS squad to produce the first back-to-back football playoff seasons in school history.

Not bad for a head coach who just finished his third year at the helm. So how has Mack managed to achieve such success?

"Just kids buying in," he said, "letting them know that I'm here for them and I'm going to work as hard as I ask them to work, and just keeping that mantra of we just need to do our job. 

"We're a blue-collar school, and everybody here works hard all the time, so it's nothing new for them. It's just kind of letting them be that and not forcing a square peg into a round hole."

As for this year's team in particular, Mack was succinct but emphatic in his words of praise. 

"They were a great group of kids," he said, "and it was a great season."


EPHS and Back of the Yards players congratulate each other after the Tigers' playoff win on Oct. 27.

PHOTO: EPHS and Back of the Yards players congratulate each other after the Tigers' playoff win on Oct. 27. Although the scoreboard shows a final score of 41-12, the IHSA later amended the result to 41-18 to credit Back of the Yards with a touchdown the team scored as time ran out. District 401 photo by Dave Porreca (click image for larger view).


2018 EPHS Varsity Football Season


The Elmwood Park Tigers finished the 2018 regular season 7-2 and went 1-1 in the IHSA Class 5A playoffs, for a final record of 8-3. The Tigers were 4-1 in the Metro Suburban Red Conference, placing second to Elgin St. Edward (5-0). Overall, the Tigers scored 320 points and gave up 241.
 

DATE

SITE

RESULT

EPHS SCORE

OPP SCORE

OPPONENT

Aug. 24

Home

Win

19

12

Westchester
St. Joseph

Aug. 31

Home

Win
(Forfeit)

1

0

Chicago
Foreman

Sept. 7

Home

Win

42

13

Norridge
Ridgewood*

Sept. 14

Away

Loss

22

25

Elgin
St. Edward*

Sept. 21

Away

Win

56

32

Bensenville
Fenton*

Sept. 28

Home

Win

42

0

Chicago
Longwood

Oct. 6

Away

Win

41

13

River Grove
Guerin*

Oct. 12

Home

Win

35

14

Palos Heights
Chicago Christian*

Oct. 19

Home

Loss

7

62

Kankakee
Bishop McNamara

Oct. 27

Home

Win
(5A Playoffs)

41

18

Chicago
Back of the Yards

Nov. 3

Away

Loss
(5A Playoffs)

14

52

Evergreen Park

*An asterisk indicates a Metro Suburban Red Conference opponent.


EPHS Football Playoff Record


The IHSA football playoffs began in 1974. EPHS has qualified for the playoffs seven times: 1977, 1983, 1985, 1991, 2012, 2017 and 2018. In all, the Tigers have won four playoff games and lost seven.

YEAR

EPHS COACH

CLASS

RESULT

EPHS SCORE

OPP SCORE

OPPONENT

1977

Gary Stearns

4A

Loss

6

28

Glen Ellyn
Glenbard South

1983

Gary Stearns

4A

Loss

12

14

New Lenox
Providence Catholic

1985

Gary Stearns

4A

Win

28

0

Chicago
Sullivan

1985

Gary Stearns

4A

Win

23

22

Riverside Brookfield

1985

Gary Stearns

4A

Win
(Overtime)

14

12

Oak Lawn
Richards

1985

Gary Stearns

4A

Loss

6

14

Rockton
Hononegah

1991

Mike Sieja

3A

Loss

24

34

Elmhurst
Immaculate Conception

2012

Luis Arroyo

5A

Loss

0

58

Joliet Catholic

2017

Dylan Mack

4A

Loss

7

50

Genoa-Kingston

2018

Dylan Mack

5A

Win

41

18

Chicago
Back of the Yards

2018

Dylan Mack

5A

Loss

14

52

Evergreen Park


2018 EPHS Varsity Football Roster


PLAYERS

1

Matthew Montanez
Junior

21

Kevin Rivera
Senior

58

Devin Schmit
Senior

2

Michael Stranski
Junior

22

David Neira
Junior

59

Isaiah Paredes
Senior

3

Nathan Simmons
Senior

23

Andrew Neal
Junior

61

Julio Sandoval
Junior

4

JJ Mazzola
Sophomore

24

Jose Velasquez
Junior

62

Khairy Fiala
Junior

5

Isaias Rosales
Junior

25

Jadon Roberson
Junior

65

Joey Lockwood
Sophomore

6

Kris Diallo
Senior

27

Antonio Walter
Junior

66

Ben Robbs
Junior

7

Jotham Escarpita
Junior

29

Avian Matos
Freshman

67

Thomas Accardo
Senior

8

C.J. Ramos
Senior

33

Diego Samano
Junior

70

Robert Scales
Freshman

9

Luciano Martino
Senior

34

James Strong
Junior

71

Isaac Velez
Junior

10

Jamin Escarpita
Sophomore

50

Carlos Ballon III
Sophomore

72

Michael Uyeda-Ansari
Freshman

11

Christian Rodriguez
Freshman

52

Chris Castro
Senior

73

Anthony Marshall
Freshman

12

Dominik Pudlo
Senior

53

Dominic Caracci
Junior

75

Arbert Aquino
Sophomore

15

Damian Rosales
Sophomore

54

Michelangelo Cruz
Senior

77

Christian Shuteriqi
Junior

16

Joe Williams
Sophomore

55

Giossue Vega
Junior

79

Luke Garofalo
Junior

17

Ozzy Ramos
Senior

56

Orlando Hernandez
Sophomore

81

Keon Grimes
Junior

18

Enzo Mazzola
Senior

57

Matthew Apa
Sophomore

   

MANAGERS

Michele Catucci | Senior

Kevin Schmidt | Junior

Bo Geiger | Senior

Magnus Shipinski | Freshman


COACHES

Dylan Mack | Head coach

Chad Nardi | Assistant Coach

Mario Fiorito | Assistant Coach

Gabe Ostrander | Assistant Coach

Dwayne French | Assistant Coach

Tony Sylvester | Assistant Coach

Eric Lewis | Assistant Coach

 

Photos from EPHS's First-Round Playoff Victory


The following photos were taken by District 401 web/media specialist Dave Porreca at the Elmwood Park vs. Chicago Back of the Yards first-round IHSA Class 5A playoff game Oct. 27 at EPHS Stadium. The Tigers won 41-18. Click any image for a larger view.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


EPHS takes on Chicago Back of the Yards in the IHSA Class 5A football playoffs.


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