The Final Score: Deerfield 24, Highland Park 17
Warriors’ Star Performers: Brian McCann had two key sacks which blunted Highland Park progress giving his team momentum that led to two scores. Fullback Landon Hinds ran for 74 yards and quarterback Ben Ethridge rushed for 72 more.
Giants’ Star Performers: Tommy Sutker completed 10 of 24 passes for 119 yards and ran for an additional 142. Josh Pollack booted a pair of onside kicks to put his team back in the game.
Other Notable Warrior Performances: John Purdy intercepted a pass to end a Highland Park drive enabling the offense to score what turned out to be the final field goal. Fullback Alec Frank gained 39 yards to help the offense while Brett Freedberg’s 57-yard kickoff return set up the Warriors first score.
Other Notable Giant Performances: Andrew Sledd accumulated 86 all purpose yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. Luke Norcia caught four passes for 40 yards while Grant Paley hauled in two for 27 yards.
Who’s Next: Deerfield became playoff eligible with the victory and awaits the results of other scores around the state to learn if there will be a post season appearance. Highland Park completed its season.
The Bottom Line: With Highland Park piling up more yardage than the Warriors while Deerfield made key defensive plays, the final result was not assured until the Warriors recovered the Giant on sides kick attempt with 53 seconds left in the game.
Deerfield seemed to have the game in control with a 24-10 edge with less than five minutes to play advancing the ball to the Giant 25. A fumble handed Highland Park the ball and a pair of Warrior pass interference penalties gave the Giants another chance with 2:56 to play. Sutker marched his team to the Warrior eight before a pass to Sledd made the score 24-17. The onside kick attempt failed with :53 to go.
Highland Park opened the scoring on a field goal by Pollack late in the first quarter. Deerfield responded immediately as Freedberg’s 57-yard kickoff return gave the Warriors the ball on the Giant 30. Eight plays later, Sam Modro put Deerfield ahead, 7-3, with 9:40 left in the half. After recovering a Highland Park fumble with 2:37 remaining in the second quarter, the Warriors took a 14-3 lead into intermission when Ethridge connected with Ben Weiss on a 20-yard touchdown pass.
The Giants opened the second half recovering an onsides kick near midfield and narrowed the Warrior margin to 14-10 on Sledd’s touchdown. Highland Park recovered another onside kick after the score and was poised to take the lead before McCann sacked Sutker for the second time of the evening. Three incomplete passes later, The Warriors took over on downs and marched 67 yards capped off with Hinds one-yard touchdown run for a 21-10 lead with 1:25 left in the third quarter.
Highland Park began to march again but this time John Purdy intercepted a Sutker pass near midfield. The Deerfield response was an immediate scoring drive ending with a 22-yard Michael Maki field goal and a 24-10 lead.
Deerfield finished the season with a 5-4 record and 4-1 in the Central Suburban League North Division. Highland Park ended the year 3-2 in the conference and 3-6 overall. The Warriors retained the Shields trophy symbolizing a victory in the inter district rivalry.