The big payback

  • Written by Ken Karrson

Mustangs turn tables on Astros in huge win

 The late James Brown only sang about it, but Shepard was forced to live through it Friday night.

  The big payback — it’s what Evergreen Park gave to the Astros, who had won five consecutive games against the Mustangs. That list of victories included a crushing one in 2012, when Shepard established a school standard for single-game points behind the exploits of former all-area receiver Londell Lee.
  Lee may be gone from the prep scene, but still very much in evidence was the bad feelings that had enveloped Evergreen players and coaches after last fall’s ravaging. And not even the winless ledger the Astros carried with them into the South Suburban Conference Red rematch was going to lessen the desire to retaliate in kind.
  “We went over there last year and got embarrassed,” Mustangs coach Dan Hartman said. “They played their stud the whole game and broke all kinds of conference records. We also told our players, ‘You’re playing an 0-7 team, and you can make their season by not being focused and letting them pull off an upset.’”

  Whether the additional encouragement was necessary or not is debatable; what isn’t is that Evergreen exacted its revenge on Shepard by doling out a 61-16 whipping and, in the process, guaranteed itself at least a share of the divisional title. The Mustangs can win an outright SSC Red crown and complete an undefeated regular season by beating Reavis Friday night in Burbank.
  “It’s a tough road game and Reavis needs to win to make the playoffs, so we’re looking at it as basically a dry run at a playoff game,” Hartman said.
  Left hung out to dry in Week 8 was the Astros (0-8, 0-5), who were victimized by a pair of Keyshawn Carpenter touchdown runs right away. Carpenter’s 16-yard dash that handed Evergreen (8-0, 5-0) a 14-0 advantage followed the block of a Shepard punt.
  By the time intermission arrived, the Mustangs had amassed 300 total yards and erupted for 54 points. Carpenter collected a third TD, Jacquet McClendon and reserve tailback Xavier Reyes both scored twice, and Eric Gurrister and Ilias Sullivan each grabbed one touchdown pass before the contest mercifully concluded.
  “It kind of got out of hand rather quickly,” Hartman said. “I didn’t expect it to happen like that, but I think it was huge [for us].
  “For the first time, the kids were able to put it all together for an extended period [of time]. It took long enough [to happen], but it helps out for them to see it all come together finally.”
  Interestingly, this was the first instance where Evergreen could downshift into cruise control. Despite their unblemished record, the Mustangs had not bagged a win by more than 11 points, and four of their first six on-field victories had been secured by three points or less.
  “Nothing has come easily and they know how quickly a game can turn,” Hartman said of his athletes. “They know we’ve got room for improvement.”
  Not on this night, however. Shepard did manage to avoid a shutout, as Kyle Dye and Shane Javorski both reached the Evergreen end zone in the second half, but that was of small consolation to coach Dominic Passolano.
  “I don’t have any sour grapes about it,” he said, referring to the Mustangs’ large margin of success. “What are you going to tell them — to quit playing? But [our] kids were put in a tough situation.
  “Since I’ve been head coach at Shepard, we’ve hung it on [Evergreen] pretty good, but I think they’re one of the most physical teams we’ve played. It was an avalanche [against us] and we were just on our heels.
  “But you can’t yell at the kids. You just do the best you can to salvage what you can in the second half.”
  That’s essentially what the Astros did, as they finished with more than 250 total yards of offense. Javorski passed for 161 yards and also ran for a team-high 83. Between them, Dye and Jake Nelson hauled in 15 balls for 136 yards’ worth of gains.
  Both were also effective on defense, as Dye registered three solo stops and five assisted tackles and Nelson produced two and four, respectively. Mark Albrecht was Shepard’s headliner on that side of the ball with six solos, six assists, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Jake Disbrow (two solos, two assists, two tackles for loss) and Isaiah Lopez (one solo, five assists, one interception) chipped in with solid displays as well.
  Evergreen defensive standouts included James Jackson, Tremane Holt, Brian Pall, Don Oresky and Dan Oresky. Offensively, both Carpenter (six carries, 120 yards) and McClendon (five catches, 115 yards) topped the century mark in gains.
  Included among the Mustangs’ plays were 59- and 36-yard pass completions and a 52-yard run.
  Hartman wasn’t sure if Evergreen’s point total represented a school record for one game, but he is certain of what one more victory can do for Evergreen.
  “We can be hitting our stride going into the playoffs,” he said.
  There are obviously no playoffs in the Astros’ immediate future, but they’ll try to dodge a winless campaign when they host Argo Friday night in Palos Heights.
  “I feel like we have a very disciplined program,” Passolano said, “and there are certain things we expect, whether we’re 8-0 or 0-8. We’ve just got to finish it off [strong].”


Evergreen Park 61
Shepard 16

Yds. rushing 96 325
Yds. passing 161 176
Total yds. 257 501
Att./comp. 28-20 16-11
Fumbles/lost 2-2 1-0
Had intercepted 0 3
Punts/avg. 4-20.5 —

Shepard Rushing: Javorski 10-83, Dye 11-14, Albrecht 1-(-1). Passing: Javorski 28-20-161. Receiving: Nelson 8-50, Dye 7-86, Vitello 3-16, Lopez 1-5, McCormick 1-4.

Evergreen Park Rushing: Carpenter 6-120. Passing: Ryan 16-11-176. Receiving: McClendon 5-115, Gurrister 2-40.