Emotions were everywhere for the Highland Park and Deerfield High School football teams as the Giants upended the Warriors Friday at Wolters Field, 17-6, to capture the Shields Trophy opening the Central Suburban League North season.
When the game ended and the teams finished shaking hands, Highland Park ran from the field holding the trophy high—it goes to the winner of the annual game between the Township High School District 113 teams—and sang the school song with classmates as the band accompanied all of them.
Deerfield left the field slowly feeling a letdown after losing to the Giants for the first time since any of the current players have been in school. “We’ve worked so hard all four years with all the early practices and extra work,” fullback Alex Frank, who ran for ran for 95 yards, said. “We came up short.”
Exploding from the opening kickoff, Warrior Sam Modro got the ball to the 42-yard-line and capped the drive with a 29-yard run to put Deerfield ahead, 6-0. Then the emotions started to shift when Highland Park’s Tommy Rudman blocked the extra point attempt.
“They started out controlling the intensity and it was a bad feeling,” Rudman said. “Then we got to a good place and we controlled the intensity.”
The intensity was there before the game. Quarterback Tommy Sutker made sure to ramp it up before he went on the field to throw for one touchdown and run for another. “I went up to each player individually and said ‘this is our last chance (to beat Deerfield), we have to pull it off,’” he said.
Sutker led by example. After the team exchanged punts in the first quarter after Deerfield’s touchdown, Sutker ran and passed the Giants into a tie finishing the drive with a 41-yard touchdown jaunt. Josh Pollack gave Highland Park a 7-6 lead with his kick. He added a 36-yard field goal with less than a minute left in the first half to give his team a 10-6 lead.
With the game remaining tight well into the fourth quarter, Sutker led by example again finishing a 75-yard scoring drive on a 43-yard pass to Grant Paley. “That was not in our playbook, Sutker said of the throw. “He (Paley) ran a slant and was way ahead (of the defenders).”
Highland Park moves to 4-1 on the season and 1-0 in league play. The victory gives the Giants their best start in 45 years, according to information Coach Hal Chiodo gathered on a computer search. Deerfield is 1-4 for the year and 0-1 in conference play.
Deerfield welcomes Glenbrook North as its homecoming opponent at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Adams Field. Highland Park entertains Maine West at 7 p.m. Friday at Wolters Field for its homecoming.