A key sack by senior nose guard Brian McCann and subsequent pressure on Highland Park quarterback Tommy Sutker provided the emotional lift necessary assure a 24-17 Deerfield High School victory Friday over the Township High School District 113 rival Giants.
After Deerfield took a 14-3 lead into halftime, the Giants recovered an onside kick to start the second half and made the score 14-10 three minutes later. On the ensuing kickoff, Highland Park got the ball back again and was preparing to take the lead.
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That’s when McCann blew past the Giant center and put Sutker on the turf for a loss. Three incomplete passes later, the Warriors took over on downs and went 67 yards with quarterback Ben Ethridge picking up 28 yards and fullback Landon Hinds adding 24. The score was then 21-10.
. “Holding them after the second onside kick and turning around and scoring immediately was the turning point. Our defense did a nice job forcing turnovers and helping set up scores.”
McCann’s second sack of the night came at the right time unnerving Sutker and the Giant attack. He credits speed, agility and help from his teammates on the defensive line for his success.
“I knew I could beat the center,” McCann said. “I had to stay low and use my speed to get by him. My speed was how I was able to make the sacks.”
Once McCann and his defensive teammates handed the football back to the offense, it was time for Hinds and Ethridge to assume control. They and the other nine athletes on the field executed just as Winiecki and his staff has coached them to do.
“The defense set up our scores. On offense it was a prototypical Deerfield style of play,” Winiecki said. “I love these kids. These guys came up with a great effort when they needed to. You have to give them a lot of credit for being able to come together and finish the season out like this.”
The Warriors went from a 1-4 start to finish the year with a 5-4 record.
Hinds, a junior who, like Ethridge, will return next season, was giving praise everywhere but to himself. “It was a great game plan by the coaches,” he said. “The holes were there and what about him,” he added pointing to Alec Frank. Hinds and Frank shared much of the fullback duties for the season.
Both Hinds and Frank gave credit to the offensive line, particularly Lou Levine. “He (Levine) pointed the way,” Frank said. “He would pull and took care of the defensive ends.”
After Deerfield extended its lead to 21-10, Sutker took the Giants on another potential scoring drive. This time it was Jack Purdy who put the march to an end with an interception. Frank and Ethridge took over to move the ball to the Giant five before Michael Maki’s field goal gave the Warriors a 24-10 edge.