COAL CITY – Last week, the Coal City football team got off to a slow start and saw Plano take a 28-0 lead at the end of the first quarter en route to handing the Coalers a 56-13 setback.
This week, the Coalers didn’t want a repeat performance against Interstate Eight Large rival Sandwich.
Indeed, behind a staunch defense and a balanced offense, Coal City (3-2, 2-1) turned the tables on Sandwich, scoring the first 14 points and cruising to a 36-14 win Friday.
“We knew we had to get off to a better start,” Coal City coach Lenny Onsen said. “That was a rough, rough loss last week.
“We were able to get off to a better start, and that’s good because these kids worked their tails off at practice all week. Practices were pretty tough this week after our last game.”
Sandwich received the opening kickoff and faced 4th-and-1 from its own 35 and elected to try for the first down. A high snap forced quarterback Justin Sartori to hurry his pass and it fell incomplete, giving Coal City the ball in Indian territory.
Three runs by Joe Starkey moved the ball to the Sandwich 11 and quarterback Nick Micetich hit A.J. Miller for a six-yard gain to make it 1st and goal from the five. Starkey then burst through the line for a five-yard touchdown, and Brad Littleton’s kick make it 7-0 with 8:37 to play in the first quarter.
The teams traded punts after that, with Littleton’s boot pinning Sandwich at its own 5. The Indians tried to go deep on the first play, but Littleton intercepted it at the Indians’ 37. Micetich hit Miller for an 11-yard gain and, after a run by Starkey, the Coal City quarterback hit a wide-open Cal Smolik over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 3:55 to play in the first. Micetich finished the night 11 of 16 for 189 yards and three touchdowns.
“It was a great night to throw,” he said. “There wasn’t much wind and the offensive line was giving me a lot of time.”
Sandwich answered on its next drive. Zac Dabbert took a jet sweep and wove his way through the Coal City defense for a 76-yard gain before being brought down by Mike Chiarappa at the 1. The Coaler defense then stopped Levi Rosenberger for no gain before sending Zach Bosek for a two-yard loss before Bosek scored on a three-yard run. Thomas Saitta added the extra point to cut the Coal City lead in half.
Sandwich’s Travis Fordon intercepted a pass at midfield for Sandwich and returned it to the Coal City 45, but the Indians had to punt, pinning the Coalers at their own 7. The teams traded punts again, this time with Coal City take over at its own 14. The Coalers moved to the Sandwich 45, but faced 3rd-and-13 at the 48 when Micetich uncorked a deep pass down the left sideline and Littleton ran under it, then outran the Sandwich defense for a 48-yard touchdown and a 20-7 lead, which they took into halftime.
Coal City got the ball to start the second half, but had to punt, and Littleton’s boot pinned Sandwich at its own 7. Alec Leasure then sacked Sartori in the end zone for a 22-7 lead. After the ensuing kick, Coal City took over on the Sandwich 41 and Micetich and Littleton hooked up again, this time for a 26-yard score and a 29-7 lead. After forcing another Sandwich punt, Coal City embarked on a 15-play drive that ended with a three-yard run by Starkey, who finished with 113 yards on the ground. Micetich had the key play in the drive, running 30 yards on a bootleg on 3rd-and-11.
“Our offensive line did a nice job,” Onsen said. “That third quarter, we had the ball almost the entire time, and it was because the line was controlling things. This is a big win, especially after the loss last week, but we know we still have some work to do.”
Sandwich capped the scoring in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Sartori to Fordon.