Sandwich off to 2-0 start after 42-19 win over Peotone

Indians break open one-point game at halftime, Harris goes for 187 yards

Sandwich Simeion Harris (1) carries the ball against Manteno during a football game at Sandwich High School on Saturday, Aug 26, 2023.

SANDWICH – After not having posted a varsity football win in almost four years, the Sandwich Indians checked off their goal of victory with a convincing 20-point win Aug. 26 against Manteno.

The Indians did even better in the second week of their revitalized program by breaking open a tight one-point game at halftime with 28 second-half points and an eventual 42-19 runaway triumph over nonconference foe Peotone on Aug. 31 in Sandwich.

“Just like last week against Manteno, I’m very proud of the kids and the coaches for helping us achieve another goal against a team in Peotone we think very highly of,” Sandwich coach Kris Cassie said. “They were a playoff team last year and are a darn good program, so this one feels really amazing now sitting at 2-0, which opens up a whole realm of possibilities for us moving forward.”

Despite being narrowly outgained 406 to 393 yards in offense, Sandwich was a juggernaut on the ground with its precision Wing-T running game, in which junior wingback Simeion Harris reeled off a game-high 187 yards rushing on 14 carries (13.3 yards per carry) and a pair of long runs to pay dirt.

“We wanted to dominate again running the ball just like we did last week against Manteno,” Harris said. “We really stepped up again and I’m so thankful for all my teammates.”

The Indians (2-0) and Harris saw some fine help from sophomore Nick Michalek, who ran the ball eight times for 86 yards and a touchdown. Parker Anderson amassed 65 yards on 12 carries.

Sophomore quarterback Brady Behringer also threw the first touchdown pass of his varsity career.

“We got off to somewhat of a slow start offensively,” Cassie said. “But we really picked things up from there in the second half and our defense was a key in allowing Peotone only six points.”

Harris got things rolling early on with a 71-yard touchdown run at the 7:08 mark of the first quarter to give the Indians a 6-0 lead.

“Honestly, after the win last week against Manteno, I was really feeling it again,” Harris said. “I got big blocks from my teammates and it was off to the races for me.”

Peotone (1-1) countered as quarterback Ruben Velasco (285 yards passing) hit wideout Chase Rivera (198 yards receiving) with a 46-yard touchdown toss at 2:37 that brought the score even at 6-6.

Early in the second quarter, the Blue Devils took their only lead of the game after a 1-yard burst by Jayden Rodriguez (79 yards rushing) at 5:10 that put the visitors in front 13-6.

But on the next series, Harris rambled 35 yards to the house after a perfect pitch from Behringer at 1:02. Michalek’s two-point conversion run gave Sandwich a 14-13 lead going into the locker room at the break.

“It was all just field vision and following my blocking again,” Harris said. “I saw a hole and I just went for it and we had the lead at halftime which was great.”

Behringer opened the second half with a 29-yard scoring strike off a slant pass to Calvin Lane Jr. at 8:03 as the Indians went ahead 21-13 after Nate Hill’s extra point attempt was good.

“It was great blocking from our line and was a great catch from ‘junior’ on the slant,” Behringer said. “He just took it and raced passed the cornerback and scored.”

The big defensive play of the game came from junior lineman Tate Frieders, who stripped Rodriguez of the ball in the backfield and came up with the recovery at the Peotone 16-yard line that put the Indians in business.

“I read the play good, went in for a tackle and my fist hit the ball and it came loose,” Frieders said. “Then I was looking for it and came up with it.”

Shortly thereafter junior Diego Gomez tallied on a 1-yard burst at 3:03 to put Sandwich ahead 28-13.

Michalek would score after a 44-yard jaunt and then a 7-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter that put the Indians in total command at 35-13.

“Once I got past the line on the big run I got some great blocking,” Michalek said. “I didn’t do much besides run the ball with my blockers leading the way on both plays back to back.”

Peotone would add another scoring strike from Velasco to Rivera from 32 yards out at the 10-minute mark to cut the Indians advantage to 35-19.

But Sandwich embarked on a 10-play, 65-yard drive that saw Gomez trot home on a 5-yard run at 4:54 which iced the final total on the scoreboard.

Now it’s rivalry time for Sandwich next week against Plano at Sandwich, with the Indians hoping for a third straight victory to start the year and the rebirth of their program.

“We haven’t played Plano’s varsity football team here in Sandwich since 2017,” Cassie said. “So our guys are pumped for the game and it’s time to go to work and prepare for a very, very good football team from just right up the road.”