Sandwich beats Plano after four-year rivalry hiatus

Indians use big plays, ball control, solid defense to top Reapers, move to 3-0

Sandwich running back Nick Michalek (11) stiff arms Plano defender Waleed Johnson (6) during a varsity football game at Sandwich High School on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023.

SANDWICH – It had been almost four years since Sandwich and Plano high schools had competed on a varsity football field.

That all came to an end Friday as the schools renewed their ‘War on 34′ rivalry in the 112th matchup that dates back to 1897.

This time around the Indians combined big-play offense with stingy ball control along with rock-solid defense to completely stifle the Reapers 27-7 in a Kishwaukee River/Interstate Eight (Blue) Conference contest.

The Indians now own a 56-52-4 all-time advantage over the Reapers.

“We haven’t played Plano since 2019 and not here on our home field since 2017, so to get a win like this is just amazing,” Sandwich coach Kris Cassie said. “A great shoutout to both communities for providing an awesome atmosphere for these young men to perform in with just a huge crowd here to witness the renewal of our rivalry, which went our way tonight after a long wait.”

Sandwich (3-0, 1-0 KR/I8) piled up 429 yards of offense while Plano (2-1, 0-1 KR/I8) could only accumulate 197.

Junior wingback Simeion Harris led the way for the Indians with 14 carries for 153 yards and a long run for a score. Sophomore Nick Michalek ran the ball 11 times for 107 yards and a touchdown, while senior Parker Anderson rushed 10 times for 67 yards and a score.

Sandwich wide receiver Calvin Lane, Jr. (22) catches a touchdown pass against Plano defender Amari Bryant (13) during a varsity football game at Sandwich High School on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023.

Sophomore Brady Behringer also threw a touchdown pass with his only connection in six tries.

The Reapers saw a team best 77 yards rushing from senior Waleed Johnson and 60 from senior Andrew Cox. Senior quarterback Armando Martinez passed for 65 yards but the visitors just couldn’t counter the Indians’ strong offensive attack.

“I put this on me because we could’ve had points in the first half and we couldn’t cash in,” Plano coach Rick Ponx said. “We wasted some opportunities, but give Sandwich credit because they did a great job in front of a big crowd from both communities. That’s what’s important in this rivalry, showing the kids a ton of support. Hopefully, we’ll get them next year at our place.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the Indians drew first blood when Behringer hit wideout Calvin Lane Jr. with a 20-yard scoring strike at 8:12 of the second quarter that completed an 11-play, 63-yard drive to put his team up 7-0.

Plano running back Waleed Johnson (6) gains a first down before being tackled by Sandwich defender Cole Leeper (5) during a varsity football game at Sandwich High School on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023.

“I knew I was going to throw it up to (Lane) and I trusted he’d catch it,” Behringer said. “He came down with a nice catch and we had some momentum.”

Sandwich scored again with 1:51 to go in the half as Harris took a handoff right up the gut and rambled 58 yards to the house to give the Indians a 14-0 lead entering the locker room.

“I hit the hole I needed to and it was off to the races for me,” Harris said. “It was 43-blast and I saw all daylight.”

The Indians opened the second half with a 14-play, 92-yard drive that ended when Michalek scampered home on a 25-yard touchdown run at 4:24 of the third quarter to put Sandwich in front 21-0.

“It was a 27-quick pitch and I got outside on the left side and beat their guy to the end zone,” Michalek said. “What a great feeling to go ahead by three scores after a long drive.”

Plano countered with a long drive of its own after Cox scored on a 1-yard blast at 9:06 of the fourth quarter to cut the gap to 21-7.

But Sandwich iced the contest on its next possession after a 10-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Anderson’s 2-yard burst to paydirt with 3:35 left.

“I was so focused on putting the game away in front of our fans,” Anderson said. “Now we’re 3-0 and nobody can doubt us after a great rivalry win like this.”