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High School Football: Shepard still winless after loss to Lemont; battle with Richards awaits

By Steve Millar
Correspondent

Shepard coach John Rone believes he has seen steady improvement from his team each week. But at 0-3 with a game against Richards looming in Week 4, the defending champions of the South Suburban Red are getting desperate to prove it in the win column.

Lemont spoiled the debut of Shepard’s new turf field Friday night, rolling to a 37-13 win in a South Suburban Conference crossover.

“We’re getting better every week,” Rone said. “Although the scoreboard wasn’t in our favor, we definitely improved from the Plainfield East game. As a staff, we like how we’re improving. The catch is it got away from us in the second half. I think that’s a sign of our youth.”

Shepard trailed 16-7 at halftime, but Sam Andreotti dashed for a 65-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage of the second half for Lemont (3-0).

Lemont — which dropped its ‘Indians’ nickname prior to this school year and hasn’t chosen a new moniker — held a double-digit lead the rest of the way, despite the best efforts of Shepard senior running back Kendrick Washington.

Washington came limping off the field several times throughout the night as appeared to be battling a nagging leg injury, but he still ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.

His first touchdown run was a 22-yarder that pulled the Astros within 9-7 early in the second quarter.

Lemont quarterback Payton Salomon responded with a 7-yard touchdown run with 10 seconds left in the first half to give the visitors momentum.

Washington’s second score came on a 67-yard run midway through the fourth quarter. That gave the Astros some hope, although a much-needed two-point conversion attempt was no good, keeping it a three-score game at 30-13.

“Kendrick fights,” Rone said. “He fought at the end of the game last week against Plainfield East, he scored the big touchdown late in this one. He keeps battling. As a team, we appreciate what he tries to do for us out there.”

Andreotti hurt the Astros once again on the next play from scrimmage, running 55 yards for a touchdown to seal the win.

Aside from Andreoitt’s big runs, the Shepard defense held its own.

The Astros put a ton of pressure on Salomon, recording five sacks. Seniors Malakhi Smith and Jeremy Rowlett had two sacks each, while junior Jamil Jones had one.

“Roy Williams has been out for a couple weeks and Jeremy Rowlett has really picked it up,” Rone said. “It’s great to see a senior like him step up. He understands what it takes to get that pressure.

“We need our young defensive linemen to be a little more consistent with their discipline in their assignments. Defensively, though, we’ve been pretty good. Teams aren’t driving on us. It’s the big plays that are hurting us. But if we want to get where we want to be, we’ve got to start shutting down those big plays.”

Quran McClellan was 7-for-15 passing for 85 yards for Shepard. Elijah Tyson had four catches for 51 yards.

Rowlett knows his team has its back against the wall. Richards is 2-1 and is coming off a 48-6 win over Argo. Evergreen Park, the Astros’ Week 6 opponent, is 3-0 and has outscored its opponents 101-0.

“I gave them all I’ve got,” he said. “It just wasn’t enough.

“This game’s over. We just have to bounce back next week. We have Richards, so it’s not going to get easier. We have to get some good practices in this week and be ready.”

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