Dyett wasn’t able to generate much offensively Friday afternoon, but Isiah Thomas Jr. made sure that didn’t matter.
The dynamic sophomore scored two touchdowns — one on special teams, one on defense — in a span of three plays in the first quarter, sparking the Eagles to a 26-6 win over Corliss at Eckersall Stadium.
It was part of a dominant defensive showing for Dyett (7-0, 6-0 Public League White South Central), which led 20-0 after one quarter.
First, lineman Noel Owens recovered a Corliss fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. Then Terrance Weatherspoon tackled Corliss quarterback Elliot Turner in the end zone for a safety.
Then it was Thomas’ turn. He ran back the ensuing free kick 55 yards for a touchdown and two plays later he returned an interception 40 yards for another score, weaving in and out of traffic before breaking free.
“My teammates [were] blocking for me,” Thomas said. “I just needed the vision and made the plays happen.”
Thomas has been a welcome addition for the Eagles after transferring in from Woodlawn. He also caught two passes for 17 yards.
“He’s been everything for us,” Dyett coach Marques Reed said. “He’s an all-around athlete, one of the top athletes in the state, one of the best returners in the state.”
Thomas has been a big reason for Dyett’s bounce back from a 3-6 finish last year in the Red Southeast. Moved to the White South Central this fall, the Eagles already have clinched their first IHSA playoff berth since 2009. Next week, they’ll meet Vocational (6-1, 6-0) with the conference title on the line.
It’s been quite a resurgence at a school that was closed by Chicago Public Schools in 2015. Community pressure, including a 34-day hunger strike, prompted CPS to reverse itself and reopen Dyett in 2016. Reed arrived for the 2021 spring COVID-delayed season, and the Eagles won their first conference title since reopening in the fall 2021 season.
“We’ve been building,” Reed said. “We started off in the [lower level] Blue. Took our lumps last year. I think our guys learned from that and we took it in stride now.”
Dyett’s only offensive touchdown, a two-yard run by Schamar Taylor-Tabb in the third quarter, was set up by another fumble recovery by the defense.
“We’ve been playing good in all three phases of football this year,” Reed said. “Today we were rushing a little bit. We got off to a slow start. … We’ve got to pick it up offensively for sure.”
Corliss (4-3, 3-3) scored on Quincy Robinson’s two-yard run in the closing minutes. The Trojans, who have formed a co-op with Butler, have dedicated the season to Donnell Jamison. Jamison, who would have been a senior linebacker this fall, was fatally shot on May 18.
“They came together as a family,” Corliss coach Keith Brookshire said of his players. “We’re very young. We’ve just got to keep chopping wood.”