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Maine West's Ryan Nordin (23) celebrates. | Brian O'Mahoney~For Sun-Times Media
The alarm clock for Highland Park’s football team sounded with 6:51 left in the third quarter at Maine West Friday night, when stud running back Andrew Sledd bolted down the right sideline for a 71-yard touchdown burst, turning a sleepy 14-14 tie in the Giants’ favor.
Not only did Sledd’s dash to pay dirt provide HP with a 21-14 lead, it woke up the entire squad, and the Giants dominated the Warriors the rest of the way en route to a 42-21 win, their first of the 2012 campaign against four losses.
“It feels great — long overdue,” said HP junior quarterback Tommy Sutker, who finished 7-for-12 passing for 96 yards and a touchdown. “It was a tight game, and we fed off that (Sledd touchdown) with the momentum.”
Added junior wide receiver Grant Paley (four catches, 41 yards, touchdown): “We needed that one huge play to spark us, and that’s what we got.”
Sutker also gained 32 yards on nine carries, but it was Sledd doing the heavy lifting. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound junior workhorse plowed through the Maine West defense for 204 yards on 27 carries and four touchdowns, including a beautiful burst off tackle for a 38-yard score to give his team a 35-14 cushion with 27.8 seconds left in the third.
Besides blocking for Sledd, junior running back Noah Pickus contributed with six carries for 71 yards and a two-yard touchdown run to give HP a 42-14 lead with 5:30 left in the fourth. Central Suburban North rival Maine West (1-4) found the end zone for the last time with less than two minutes to play.
“We finally got a pay day, and it’s a great feeling for our whole team,” Highland Park head coach Hal Chido said. “Hopefully, we’ll develop some confidence now.”