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Suburban Life football notes: ‘Tears of joy’ Lemont QB Payton Salomon wins second start with Hail Mary

Two games.

Two wins.

But that’s not the best part of Lemont quarterback Payton Salomon’s first two varsity starts.

Salomon helped keep Lemont undefeated with a 40-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Mike Jabaay as time expired in a 15-10 victory over Nazareth on Friday night.

“Two plays before that, we were shooting for the end zone and I had to scramble up the field for a few yards, so we took one last timeout before the final play,” Salomon said. “When I snapped the ball on the final play, I remember everything went so slow in my head. I felt the pressure on the left side, rolled to the right, set up and just threw it. I was hoping for the best.

“I didn’t think about the clock because I just knew had to throw it. I didn’t even know that the game was over. After I threw it, I think I started running toward the end zone, hoping he would catch it. My mind just went blank after he caught it. My vision gave out. I was in the middle of the field in shock, just in shock, I couldn’t tell if it was an interception or touchdown. I threw up a prayer. When it went official, I just broke town in tears of joy on the sidelines. I ran to the end zone after the dog pile went away and gave Mike Jabaay a big hug and said ‘thank you.’”

Through two weeks, Lemont is one of the surprise undefeated teams in Chicagoland. They opened up the season with a blowout win over St. Charles East, then handed Nazareth its second straight loss. Salomon, a first-year varsity starter, said Lemont has to build off its first two wins heading into Friday’s game at Shepard.

“It feels good to be undefeated,” Salomon said. “The first game we were expecting a much better game than we played, but everybody executed doing their job all four quarters. On Monday, we went back to work, starting watching film on Nazareth. We started slow on Friday, but then some things started clicking, some weren’t. We had a lots of ups and downs, a few mistakes away from big plays and big touchdowns.

“It was a big win over Nazareth, especially with their history being a tough football team. Their defense played really well, but our defense came out and played really well, too. We have the potential to be a state (team). I saw it before the year started, in summer camp. We have so much potential on our coach and a great coaching staff.”

St. Francis player TJ McMillen (center) practices with the team in Wheaton on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021.

St. Francis player TJ McMillen (center) practices with the team in Wheaton on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. (Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com/)

Finally we can visit: St. Francis junior offensive lineman TJ McMillen was among the area football players happy to finally make an on campus visit on Saturday. McMillen, one of the top lineman in the Midwest, made an unofficial visit to Purdue.

McMillen said it was his first game day visit since attending the Ohio State at Michigan game in Nov. 30, 2019.

“I really liked the (Purdue) game day atmosphere,” he said. “The fans and the game was a lot of fun.”

McMillen said he’s trying to schedule game day or non game visits to Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Miami (Ohio), Syracuse, Texas Tech, TCU and Illinois.

Rivals.com recruiting analyst “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran said McMillen is an elite recruit.

“TJ is the real deal,” he said. “He never leaves the field. He’s put on more size, gotten strong and is technical and fundamentally really sound. He’s going to be a Power Five (Conference) center at the next level. He’s a leader, just everything you could ask for out of a high school athlete.”

Crosstown showdown

Downers Grove North is a big proverbial favorite heading into its annual crosstown showdown against Downers Grove South. The Trojans (2-0) have won the last six meetings in the series, including a 23-7 win last spring. Meanwhile, the Mustangs suffered another tough loss in Week 2, dropping a 49-0 decision at Glenbard West. In two games, the Mustangs (0-2) have been outscored 99-0.

“We’re a young team, and need to clean some things up,” Downers Grove South coach Mark Molinari said. “(Friday) is a huge game for us. They have a good team. We haven’t beaten them in a few years. I think these first couple of weeks against Wheaton North and Glenbard West have gotten us prepared. I think we will be ready for them. These first two weeks have helped prepare us.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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