Sequoits Crush The Rush in a Thriller

Antioch defeated Lakes in an exciting win, clinching the NLCC title in the process.

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Sequoits Crush The Rush in a Thriller

Senior running back Nick Wiley runs the ball back from a kick return to score a Sequoit touchdown.

Senior running back Nick Wiley runs the ball back from a kick return to score a Sequoit touchdown.

Joseph Whittall

Senior running back Nick Wiley runs the ball back from a kick return to score a Sequoit touchdown.

Joseph Whittall

Joseph Whittall

Senior running back Nick Wiley runs the ball back from a kick return to score a Sequoit touchdown.

The game had been marked on everyone’s calendars since the schedule came out. The two schools had spent the past weeks trash talking and hyping up the big game. The two powerhouses of the Northern Lake County Conference were set to match up on a Friday night in Antioch with much more on the line than just bragging rights. If Antioch won the game, they would capture another NLCC title. If Lakes won, the conference was up for grabs.

Football games between the Sequoits and Eagles never fail to exceed the expectations put on them by the students and fans. This game was no exception.

With the stands packed to full capacity, the festivities began with Antioch kicking off to Lakes. All of the hyping and trash talking was about to be put to the test and Lakes looked to silence the home crowd early in the game.

The Eagles dominated on their first drive, swiftly scoring a touchdown less than six minutes into the game. After a quick three and out by Antioch, Lakes quickly quieted the home stands once again by scoring another touchdown late in the first, making the score 14-0.

The Sequoits started to push back after, however, as senior running back Nick Wiley rushed for a touchdown in the closing moments of the first quarter.

Lakes responded by putting up another touchdown and a field goal, making it 24-7 with less than two minutes left in the half. The Eagles were currently in firm control of the game. 

“We didn’t come out to play as much as Lakes did,” senior linebacker Kevin Tebbe said. “We realized the hole we dug ourselves into by halftime.”

While they had dug themselves a big hole by halftime, Wiley’s heroics before the half began the Sequoit’s climb out of the hole. On the ensuing kickoff, Wiley turned the momentum back in favor of Antioch. After bobbling the ball, Wiley took control, broke a couple tackles and ran it back for a Sequoit touchdown. With a little over a minute left in the half, the Sequoit sideline had life once again.

The first half of the game can best be characterized as an underperformance by Antioch. Their slow start hadn’t been anything new. They had come out slow on more than one occasion but this time was different. Since it was Lakes, Antioch was lucky to only be down by ten at the half.

The second half looked to be more of the same as sophomore quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis threw an interception on the first play of the half. While the offense hadn’t woken up yet, the defense had. A strong stand by the Sequoits held Lakes to no points and the long-awaited powerhouse offense finally awoke.

“We came out of the second half with one goal in mind,” Tebbe said. “We wanted to win the game.”

Kaliakmanis rushed for another Sequoit touchdown and the once two-touchdown game had become a deficit of a field goal. After a spectacular interception by senior safety Elias Vanderwagen, the third quarter came to an end with Lakes clinging to a 24-21 lead and Antioch yards away from taking it from them.

Shortly into the final quarter of play, another Kaliakmanis keeper gave the Sequoits their first lead of the night. Wiley’s third touchdown put the Sequoits up by 11 and junior running back Brandon Reynolds put the game out of reach with a 38-yard touchdown run making the final score of the game 43-24.

“We had a rough start,” assistant coach Mitch Munda said. “With some halftime adjustments, the defense came out and stepped up, and the offense started rolling.”

There is no denying the fact that this was perhaps the hardest game the Sequoits had to play this year but the trend of slow starts is a little concerning.

“We did really good staying in the game and not giving up,” senior defensive linemen and captain Chase Becker said. “We need to work on starting off stronger, though.”

To the fans and students of Antioch Community High School, this game means another year of bragging rights but to the coaches and players, this game had a bigger meaning.

“It showed us some adversity,” Becker said. “I think we needed that.”

“We hadn’t really battled adversity as a team the whole year and this game gave us our first test of that,” Tebbe said. “We stuck to our game plan and played as teammates to win this game.”

In the grand picture of the NLCC, the Sequoits have clinched a third straight title. The 8-0 Sequoits close out their regular season next week at North Chicago, whose record currently stands at 2-5. The Sequoits will be looking for a third straight year of going 9-0 in the regular season but ask any of the players and they’ll all say that what really matters is the playoffs.

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