Tommy Fiedler knew even a school-record performance probably wouldn't be enough to unseat the injured, established quarterback he was filling in for on a one-game basis last season.
Less clear was whether the 287 yards the then-sophomore threw for in a 24-20 loss to Hinsdale Central on Sept. 21 were the most in school history, as records were spotty before Kurt Weinberg's arrival as head coach in 2009.
It was the highest single-game total in Weinberg's tenure, but sure enough, senior Zach Mahoney was under center the following week — and for the rest of the Lions' run to the Class 8A quarterfinals.
"Zach Mahoney was a really good quarterback as a senior," Fiedler said. "I knew I was only playing for him because he was injured. It was disappointing to not get the chance to play the next game, but that was up to the coaching staff to decide.
"I didn't worry about it too much. When they said Zach was going to be back from his injury (separated AC joint in his shoulder), I felt like I would have liked to play more. But it was best for the team, so I really couldn't complain about it."
Not much can upset a football team's chemistry like the removal of successful senior quarterback, and nobody is upset about the left-handed junior who is taking over this season.
At least nobody at Lyons.
"He is extremely good," Weinberg said. "I don't know if he'll be the best I've had in 19 years, but at his age he is the best."
With the parts surrounding him, Fiedler, who lost one game in two years on the lower levels, is set up for immediate success.
Junior running back Leonard Ross, who started the final six games as a sophomore, runs the 100 in 11.5 seconds and has a scholarship offer from Illinois.
Senior receivers Matt Mrazek and Marcell Kellum are returning starters. The junior class has "12 to 15" impact players, according to Weinberg.
And Fiedler has the confidence of a proven performer.
"It definitely takes the edge off of the first game," Fiedler said. "I have a sense of knowing what the situations can be like in a varsity game. It's much quicker. I'm excited to get in there and have the tempo of the varsity game."
Lyons at a glance
Last season: 7-5, 3-3, 3rd place (tie) in West Suburban Silver; lost 45-10 to Mount Carmel in 3rd round of Class 8A playoffs.
Playoff history: 15 appearances; 0 state titles.
He's back: Matt Mrazek, Sr., 6-4, 200, S/WR; Leonard Ross, Jr., 6-0, 200, RB; Marcell Kellum, Sr., 6-0, 180, WR; Ben Rimmele, Sr., 5-10, 205, LB; Lawrence Burks, Sr., 6-1, 180, CB.
He's gone: Matthew Harris, WR/DB (Northwestern); Zach Mahoney, QB; Nick Demas, OL; Jemari Burks, WR; Jimmy Mitchell, DL.
He's new: Tom Fiedler, Jr., 6-2, 175, QB; John O'Connor, Sr., 6-3, 240, OL; Connor Gales, Jr., 5-11, 185, S.
Big name: Ross has an offer from Illinois and the interest of almost every Big Ten team.
Big game: Six of the seven West Suburban Silver teams made the playoffs last year and four will appear in the Tribune's preseason Top 20, but defending league and Class 7A champion Glenbard West remains the favorite until someone proves otherwise. Lyons will get its shot Sept. 20 at home.
Big question: How much of a learning curve will the junior class require? It's a talented group that had considerable success on the lower levels, but there's little margin for error in the West Suburban Silver.
Breakdown: Under .500 through five games before recovering to make the playoffs each of the past two seasons, Lyons is going to need a better start this time around. The nonconference schedule is manageable, and the talented yet somewhat inexperienced group is going to need to be ready for the meat grinder starting week four against Glenbard West.
Fast fact: The Lions had never advanced past the second round of the playoffs before reaching the Class 8A quarterfinals each of the last three seasons.Copyright © 2015, CT Now