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Football: Previously winless Sandburg takes down defending champ Lockport

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By Randy Whalen
Correspondent

A season ago, Sandburg turned its season around after a big loss to Lockport.

This year, the Eagles hope their season has turned around after a big win over the Porters.

Sandburg was winless coming into the SouthWest Suburban Blue matchup against the defending Class 8A state champions, but pummeled the Porters, 34-3, on Sept. 23.

Sophomore Anthony Shelton threw for a touchdown and ran for another, and senior Katrell Thompson ran for more than 100 yards and scored twice in front of a big Homecoming crowd.

It was the first win of the year the Eagles (1-4, 1-1) and the second straight loss for the Porters (3-2, 0-2). Before the previous week’s 35-20 setback to Homewood-Flossmoor, Lockport had lost once in its previous 19 games.

“I just think we’ve had some new guys, some young guys in, and it’s taken them time,” Sandburg coach Troy McAllister said of Sandburg’s early-season struggles.

Eagles sophomores Shelton, lineman Matt Marek and wide receiver Charlie Snorek are starting on offense, and freshman Jaden Weaver starts on the defensive line.

“They are now catching up to the process,” McAllister said. “They are hungry, and no matter what happens in the last half of the season, they want to leave their own legacy.”

Last season, it was the Porters who went into Orland Park in Week 5, jumped out to a 33-0 lead after one quarter and went on to win 42-0 on the Eagles’ Homecoming. It would be Sandburg’s last regular season loss, as they went on to win four straight games to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

“I was worried all week,” Lockport coach George Czart said of playing the Eagles. “They’re a good team, we could see that on film. People were just going to look at their record and think this was going to be a pushover.

“We didn’t match their intensity, aggressiveness, toughness and will to win. There’s the result up on the scoreboard. We have to live with ourselves.”

Sandburg scored on its seventh offensive play, a 9-yard touchdown run by Thompson with 9:24 left in the first quarter.

A 28-yard field goal by Lockport junior Nate Blazewski with 1:20 left in the opening quarter made the score 7-3, but the next three Porter possessions netted a total of minus-nine yards. Lockport totaled 18 yards in the first half.

Eagles senior Lance Somerfield kicked a 26-yard field goal with 4:58 left in the second quarter and Shelton threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to senior Drew Selle with 5 seconds remaining in the first half to give Sandburg a 17-3 halftime lead.

Shelton, who became the starter when senior Christian Evans was injured in the second game of the season, finished with 195 yards, completing 18-of-22 passes with a touchdown pass and a 5-yard scoring run.

“You saw his maturation out there,” McAllister said. “Just seeing [on the touchdown pass] what was given in the game. They were in Cover 4 and Anthony read it, and Drew went up and made a great catch.

Shelton said the victory was a team effort.

“I don’t get any credit for this,” he said. “It was all the team, all the defense. It was all about momentum all game.

“We believed in the team and the team believed in me.”

McAllister said Shelton came to him with suggestions and ideas while game-planning for Lockport.

“That’s a lot for a sophomore to do and he has a high football IQ,” the coach added. “You can see that once he gets that confidence that he has the ‘it’ factor.”

Thompson carried the ball 25 times for 122 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown run. He said it felt great for the Eagles to flip the switch.

“Yes, we did remember that,” Thompson said of last season’s blowout loss to Lockport. “We wanted to do to them what they did to us. This felt good. We always want to stack the momentum and the defense made big plays. We got it done.

“Our defense and special teams did their jobs. I don’t know how many yards I had but the two touchdowns felt good. This was just our offensive line cleaning things up.”

Somerfield added a 35-yard field goal.

The Eagle defense, which gave up 83 points in the previous two games, was up to the task all game. They forced two fumbles, one of which was recovered by Weaver, and seniors Harrison Meyer and John Thompson had interceptions.

The Porters finished with 42 total yards in the game and converted only four first downs.

McAllister said linebackers Nate Biskup, Tommy Stotts and John Massino played very well. The Eagles had Thompson cover the Porters leading receiver, 6-foot-6-inch senior Hyatt Timosciek, who came in with 24 receptions for 435 yards and 5 TDS, and he held him without a catch.

The Eagles rebounded from last year’s loss to Lockport by stunning Lincoln-Way East the following week and rode that momentum to the postseason. To make the playoffs again, they will have to defeat their remaining four opponents, starting with the Griffins on Friday.

“This week’s game is big,” Shelton said of facing East. “But we’ve been getting better and everyone is on the same page. This team has a lot of desire and this is the product. We definitely want it.”

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