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Hanover Central senior two-way lineman Michael Simon dominated the line of scrimmage Friday night as the Wildcats shut out Whiting 40-0 at Ray P. Gallivan Field.

WHITING — In April, Michael Simon, two football teammates and Simon’s little brother were home on spring break waiting for Simon’s mother to return from work when a fuse box started sparking.

According to Simon, some faulty wiring created a small electrical fire and sent him and his friends scrambling. Teammate Tyler Fruehling had the wherewithal to grab Simon’s younger brother from upstairs, and Simon found the dog and cat and hurried everyone to safety before fire consumed the south and west sides of the house.

Firefighters from nine local agencies were on the scene but could not save the house.

Cedar Lake Assistant Fire Chief Nick Mager told The Times in April that the fire at the two-story home was accidental and the cause was electrical.

Michael Simon spent the rest of the school year displaced, living with his father and an aunt in Crown Point before spending the summer with his mother and brother at a house in Lynwood. The Lansing native had long, anxious rides to and from summer practices and workouts, but just before the start of school the family found a home to rent in Cedar Lake to keep Michael at Hanover for his senior year.

“He’s been through a lot in the last calendar year,” Hanover Central coach Brian Parker said. “I think between the lines for him is his escape, and he plays extremely hard.”

Friday night, Simon was in the Whiting backfield making play after play to disrupt the Oiler offense, and he played right tackle on an offensive line that helped the Wildcats run for 177 yards and three scores in a 40-0 win over Whiting in Greater South Shore Conference South Division action.

The host Oilers (2-5, 0-2) had beaten the Wildcats (4-3, 2-1) four out of five tries since the resurrection of the Hanover program, including a 61-0 defeat last year.

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“It was really heartbreaking last year because we had a lot of great friends in the class of 2019, and we felt like we let those guys down,” Simon said. “Tonight, we had to come out here and hold our name with some pride.”

Simon had a sack for a loss of 18 yards on Whiting’s second possession, a three-yard tackle for loss on the Oilers’ third, and a tackle for loss on Whiting’s first play after Hanover Central took a 9-0 lead on a Brett Driscoll touchdown run.

Simon started as a linebacker briefly at the start of the year and moved primarily to defensive end. He slid into more of a defensive tackle role Friday night and followed pulling linemen and stayed flat to continually create chaos. Whiting never found a rhythm, then lost three fumbles in the second half en route to just 36 total yards in the half, 92 for the game.

Simon missed the first two games of the season with a mild right knee sprain, but he’s making up for it and even receiving contact from numerous NAIA and NCAA Division II and III schools about continuing his play at the next level.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound preseason Class 3A all-state pick by Indiana Football Digest seldom leaves the field for the Wildcats. A two-year captain and emotional leader, the right offensive tackle led a Wildcats offensive line that sprang Driscoll for 141 yards and three touchdowns Friday.

“Brett is so talented and really is a jack-of-all-trades,” Simon said. “He and I have a really good relationship off the field, and it helps on the field because he can play off of me and what I’m doing. He’s a tremendous athlete.”

Simon downplayed his individual accomplishments Friday night, crediting the scout team for a great week of practice and allowing him to know where to be to create chaos as a defender.

“There are not too many practice players that practice as hard as Michael does,” Parker said. “He plays through the echo of the whistle all the time.”

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