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High School Football: Sandburg tops Stagg as football returns in Illinois

Luke DeVito, No. 19 on the bottom of the pile, scores Sandburg’s first touchdown of the season with a defensive fumble recovery in the end zone. Photo by Jeff Vorva

By Jeff Vorva
Correspondent

In mid-September, when he and his teammates should have been preparing for their next football game, Sandburg junior Luke DeVito was giving speeches.

The regular fall football season had been canceled by the IHSA, following guidelines set by the state because of the COVID 19 pandemic. DeVito and a group of other advocates spoke at a rally in Orland Park to bring back sports and in-school learning.

Last week, now in mid-March, he and his Eagles football teammates took the field for the first time this school year. And it seems appropriate that in this upside-down world of football in Illinois that DeVito scored the Eagles’ first touchdown.

After teammate Alex Szczesnaik racked up a sack and forced a fumble, DeVito chased the ball and pounced on it in the end zone to give the Eagles a quick lead in what turned out to be a 41-6 victory over District 230 rival Stagg Friday night in Orland Park.

“That was amazing, man,” he said. “Especially because it was my first game on varsity. It was a great way to start it. I got in there quick. I was actually worried the ball was going to go out of the end zone, but I kept my eye on it.”

Keep an eye on the Eagles.

Even though the toughest meat of their schedule is in the future with a three-game grind against Homewood-Flossmoor, Bolingbrook and Lincoln-Way East starting April 1, they head into their Week 2 game at Lockport with some confidence. The win over Stagg marked the first time since 2016 that Sandburg has scored 40 points in a game.

After the DeVito defensive score, the offense went to town. Junior quarterback Kevin Zimmer ran for a touchdown and threw two more to John-Michael Scumaci and Dylan Sigel, while running back Dan Witkowski ran in a pair of scores. Zimmer threw for 198 yards and had two apparent touchdowns called back because of penalties.

“We had really good energy and we flowed well,” Zimmer said. “We have Lockport now and we are coming together as a team. We are excited.”

Stagg’s Mohammad Ahmed looks for running room against Sandburg Friday night in a 41-6 road loss to the Eagles. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Sandburg coach Scott Peters said the Eagles have nine seniors on defense, and the opening touchdown did not surprise him.

“Before the game we talked about whether we should kick off or receive if we won the coin toss, and I said, ‘Let’s kick it deep and have our defense score first,’’’ he said. “What do you know? It actually happened.”

This was the first game for new Stagg coach Colt Nero. The Chargers trailed 35-0 at halftime, but they were still whooping and hollering and making noise in the fourth quarter when sophomore quarterback Dan Fitzpatrick found Timothy Griffin Jr. for a 64-yard completion. One play later, senior Freddy Walker scored on a 3-yard run.

Of the 49 players on Stagg’s roster, 25 are either sophomore or juniors. Nero was encouraged the Chargers were engaged in a 6-6 deadlock with the Eagles over the final 24 minutes.

“We played hard in that second half,” Nero said. “It’s been eight months and I have never seen them play in a live game. This was phenomenal for us and the future is bright. We have a lot of really good players and a lot of young players.”

Local News



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