HIGHLAND | Football fans around the state know of Andrean's playmaking ability on offense. It's hard, after all, not to notice a 59ers squad that has averages almost 44 points per game coming into Friday's Northwest Crossroads Conference game.
But while the offense was once again a scoring machine, it was the defense that shined in Times No. 1 Andrean's 42-0 victory over the host Trojans – the 59ers' first shutout of the season.
“It's always nice in high school football,” Andrean coach Phil Mason said of holding Highland scoreless. “Our defense is known for being very physical and stellar, and I think tonight our defense showed up and did very well. I'm proud of those kids.”
Linebacker Tylor Petkovich and defensive back Noah Pavlina are Andrean's defensive captains. They admitted to coming out a bit slowly on defense, allowing three Highland first downs on the Trojans' opening possession. Andrean (6-0, 3-0 NCC) rebounded to allow Highland (3-3, 0-3) only 120 total yards of offense and only 47 rushing yards.
“We come out slow, but they come out with intensity because we're Andrean and everybody wants to beat us,” Petkovich said. “Once we get a feel for it, it just comes natural to us.”
“We're supposed to be one of the best defenses in the region, so we need to start acting like it,” Pavlina said.
The 59ers wasted no time putting points on the board, as Matt DeSomer found Petkovich for a 54-yard touchdown to go up 7-0 with 6:51 left in the first quarter.
DeSomer's backup, Jake Paliga, got in on the action with a 30-yard touchdown to Donovan Chandler to give the 59ers a 14-0 lead, then a Trevor Berg 2-yard touchdown run made it 21-0 late in the first quarter.
Paliga fired a second touchdown early in the third quarter, connecting with Jamie Johnson for 55 yards and a 35-0 Niners lead.
Andrean fans got a glimpse of the future with Paliga, who likely will be the starting quarterback next season after DeSomer graduates.
“I think he's a really good quarterback,” Mason said of Paliga. “I wanted him to get some quality playing time tonight. We wanted to see him get as many reps as he can. It was good for him to get some good tosses tonight, and I was happy for him.”