Eagles’ QB injured in lopsided loss to Vikings
The letters “H” and “F” in local high school circles are an abbreviation for Homewood-Flossmoor.
Friday night, they also stood for something else: hurt and frustrated.
Those words didn’t describe the Vikings, but their SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue foe from Orland Park. Sandburg entered the divisional contest with four victories in five tries, but still in search of one that might rightfully be thought of as a signature win.
The Eagles must keep looking. H-F saw to that by seizing command of the game at Seliga Field in less than six minutes.
The Vikings erupted for three touchdowns over that span, one of them coming on a 50-yard gallop by sophomore Deante Harley-Hampton. His twin brother, Devonte, accounted for the other two scores, which were bridged by a Sandburg fumble.
And the deficit quickly grew deeper for the home club, which notched only a field goal and touchdown before halftime. Meanwhile, H-F tacked on three more six-pointers in that same stretch and cruised in with a surprisingly easy 48-10 triumph one week after upsetting Lincoln-Way East.
“It was about as bad as it could get,” Eagles coach Dave Wierzal said. “I know I don’t picture a game going that bad that fast. They’re obviously a very, very good football team, and putting them in that position [of control] is bad.”
“Psychologically, we have to find a way to move past this without [it] weighing us down or dwelling on it. We’ve got to focus on the task at hand.”
That next task is a date with Lincoln-Way East. What makes it an even greater challenge than usual is that Sandburg (4-2, 3-1) will tangle with the Griffins minus the services of quarterback Sean Leland.
While every Eagle was nursing emotional wounds following Friday’s rout, Leland also had to cope with the physical kind. The senior hurt his shoulder late in the second period and is expected to miss at least a week or two.
“Losing Sean is a major problem,” Wierzal said of Leland, the third of Sandburg’s four team captains to be idled by injury this season. Lineman Yanni Demogerontas (ankle) and linebacker Bobby Krop (ACL) preceded Leland to the sidelines and are not likely to return.
“You’re always dealing with adversity, but now you’re also dealing with a leadership issue,” Wierzal said. “I’ve never had something like this [happen before].”
The Eagles’ passing attack, even while Leland was available, lacked potency on this occasion. H-F held three Sandburg signal-callers to a combined 2-of-14 performance, which resulted in a mere 23 yards’ worth of gains.
Brian Langowski tried to compensate by rushing for 140 yards on 20 carries, but it was to little avail. His 14-yard run in the second quarter supplied the hosts with their lone TD.
By the time Langowski reached the end zone, all hopes for a successful evening had vanished. After the Harley-Hampton twins did their early damage, the Vikings turned to the aerial game as quarterback Isaac Cutera fired touchdown passes of 23, 80 and 74 yards to three different receivers while H-F was operating out of a single-wing offensive scheme.
“We felt we prepared our kids in practice for it, but you never quite can because of the timing of the thing,” Wierzal said. “But the difficulty we had with it, more than anything, was their speed.
“They’re very, very quick, very slippery, and hard to bottle up. Any of the misdirection, the counter stuff, if one guy is out of position, you’re not going to recover against that.
“The offensive breakdowns [we had] and giving up some of those big plays on defense, it takes away some of that competitive edge.”
Besides Langowski’s TD, the only other offensive highlight for Sandburg was Jonathan Milazzo’s 50-yard field goal, which was just 3 yards shy of equaling Teddy Vergados’ school standard for longest three-pointer. With a comeback not being a realistic option for the second half, Wierzal gave his athletes a simple directive during intermission.
“What I told them at halftime was that we’re a better team than we played like in the first half,” he said. “I told them to ignore the score and play the second half the way we thought we should have played the first half.”
H-F coach Craig Buzea pretty much called off the dogs when play resumed in the third period, but the Eagles did do some sprucing up in regard to their own performance and outgained the Vikings over the final 24 minutes. Langowski was Sandburg’s offensive trigger man, while Matt Taylor (five solo tackles), Louis Paleothodoros (four stops, one sack), Graham Hevel (four solos, two assists) and Alante Walker (four solos, one assist) were the defensive notables.
Overall, the Vikings held a sizable 395-185 advantage in total yards, but Wierzal thought there “weren’t any glaring problems on offense” as far as the Eagles’ execution was concerned. He wasn’t thrilled, however, with six fumbles, even though Sandburg got four of them back.
Note: Correspondent Tim Cronin contributed to this story.
H-F 20 21 7 0 - 48
Sandburg 0 10 0 0 - 10
First downs 17 15
Yds. rushing 214 162
Yds. passing 181 23
Total yds. 395 185
Att./comp. 6-4 14-2
Fumbles/lost 1-1 6-2
Had intercepted 0 1
Penalties/yds. 6-45 6-35
Punts/avg. 5-32.6 6-32.8
HF — Devonte Harley-Hampton, 1-yd. run (Morgan Bohlman kick)
HF — Harley-Hampton, 19-yd. run (Bohlman kick)
HF — Deante Harley-Hampton, 50-yd. run (Bohlman kick)
HF — Aaron Gooch, 23-yd. pass from Isaac Cutrara (kick failed)
CS — Jonathan Milazzo, 50-yd. field goal
HF — James Sheehan, 80-yd. pass from Cutrara (Bohlman kick)
HF — Nicholas Atoyebi, 74-yd. pass from Cutrara (Bohlman kick)
CS — Brian Langowski, 14-yd. run (Milazzo kick)
HF — Deante Harley-Hampton, 8-yd. run (Bohlman kick)
Sandburg Rushing: Langowski 20-140, Robley 9-29, Johnson 4-15, Reid 2-11, Muno-Kohn 1-8, Gutierrez 4-0, Shuaibi 2-0, Leland 3-(-9), Zavod 4-(-32). Passing: Leland 10-2-23, Zavod 3-0-0, Gutierrez 1-0-0. Receiving: Carney 1-14, Marudas 1-9.