CEDAR LAKE | Simply put, this Wildcats win was a long time in the making.
Hanover Central played its first football game in 42 years and picked up its first win in 43 years Saturday with a 35-0 junior varsity victory over South Central.
The Wildcats used a 21-point first quarter to jump all over the Satellites. Hanover Central's backfield shared the work load on the ground, as Brandon Sears, DJ Fezler, Daniel Balich, and Matt Smolek, all had rushing touchdowns.
"We've been in here since last October waiting for this," Sears said. "Forty-two years we've been waiting for that first touchdown."
Sears scored the first Wildcats touchdown in over four decades with a 1-yard dive at 5:55 in the first quarter. Less than two minutes later, Wildcats quarterback Luke Pederson connected with Jeremy Szutenbach for a 55-yard strike to open the Hanover lead to 13-0.
"A lot builds up to this and we're excited just to come out here and perform in front of all these people," Pederson said. "Basically, all of Cedar Lake showed up for this one."
After Balich's 6-yard touchdown run with 2:54 remaining in the first and the subsequent two point conversion, Smolek and Fezler each added second-quarter runs of 35 and 21 yards, respectively, to stretch the Hanover lead to 35-0.
"It was exciting to see all of Cedar Lake here," Szutenbach said. "I'm proud to do it for my community. "
Balich added a third-quarter interception for the Wildcats, and plenty of Hanover players saw the field in the second half. The Wildcats' last win came on Sept. 26, 1970, a 9-0 win over North Newton. Next year, Hanover will join the Greater South Shore Conference and play a full varsity schedule.
"I couldn't sleep last night," Hanover Central coach Robert Harrison said. "And I'm not the type of person who gets nervous. When I got up this morning, I was just hoping we had a good showing. This is a long time coming."
Harrison said Cedar Lake residents were in the parking lot tailgating at 7:30 a.m., and some locals were even at the school earlier than the coaches.
"It was a pretty special day," Harrison said."It means a lot to me, and it means a lot to the kids to have this kind of support at a JV football game on a Saturday. This is our Friday nights, and we're going to treat it like that."