Three key plays set up a trio of scores providing the margin of victory for Highland Park High School’s football team in a 27-12 homecoming triumph over Maine West Friday at Wolters Field.
After Kelshawn Shields 41-yard run on the first play from scrimmage put the Giants in a position to score their initial touchdown, Luke Norcia’s two second half punt returns created the opportunity for the team’s final 10 points putting the contest out of the Warriors’ reach.
After Maine West failed to recover an onside kick to start the game, Shields took a handoff from quarterback Tommy Sutker and ran 41 yards to the Warrior 19. Four plays later, Grant Paley went into the end zone on a pass from Sutker.
“It felt like a really good run,” Shields said. “The play set up really well. (Jack) McGuire made a good block to let me cut wide and take it down the sideline.”
Midway through the second quarter, the Giants took a 14-0 advantage on an 80-yard, nine-play drive featuring 38 yards from Shields. It was capped off on a pass from Sutker to Norcia. After that, Maine West climbed back into the game with two touchdowns of its own before Josh Pollack made it 17-12 with a 28-yard field goal as the half ended.
In the second half it was Norcia’s turn to make a difference. His 28-yard punt return with less than a minute to play in the third period gave Highland Park the ball on the Maine 8 before Pollack’s 20-yard field goal gave the Giants a 20-12 edge.
After the field goal, Highland Park stopped the Warriors on three-straight plays before it was Norcia’s turn to make things happen again. His 54-yard punt return put the ball on the Maine West one before Shields ran into the end zone for the game’s final tally. He churned out 148 yards for the contest.
“These were all good football plays,” Highland Park Coach Hal Chiodo said of Shields run and Norcia’s punt returns. Chiodo was also happy with a defense that bent but never broke. “As much as he (Maine West quarterback Matt Swanson) threw the ball they only scored 12 points.”
Highland Park is now 5-1 for the season and 2-0 in the Central Suburban League North Division. The Giants travel to Maine East at 7:30 p.m. Friday.