Evergreen Park earns school’s first semifinal berth
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media November 10, 2012 10:54PM
Brooks defenders Dyllan Harris (44) and Khalil Simmons wrap up Evergreen Park quarterback Brandon White Saturday in their state quarterfinal playoff game. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 12, 2012 6:41AM
Brandon White isn’t the tallest player on Evergreen Park’s roster, but at 5 feet, 11 inches, the senior quarterback is lifting the program to new heights.
White threw for three touchdowns and ran in two more as Evergreen Park rocked visiting Brooks 37-14 on Saturday in the Class 4A quarterfinals.
With the win, the seventh-seeded Mustangs (9-3) earned their first semifinal appearance in school history and will host Rock Island Alleman this week with a berth in the state title game on the line.
“It feels so great right now,” White said. “I hope we can go all the way. We have to practice hard and keep believing we can win.”
Brooks, the last remaining playoff team from the Chicago Public League, struck first on a 49-yard touchdown sprint by Cleveland Clark, but White responded with a 74-yard dash down the right sideline on the next possession.
White totaled 216 yards on 22 carries. His second score came on a 24-yard scamper in the third quarter — aided by key blocks from Jacquet McClendon and DaQua Gatewood — after a blocked punt by Paul Romano.
“They were blocking great,” White said of his line. “I was just reading them and running as hard as I could.”
White battled gusting winds to add 162 yards through the air on 7-of-18 passing. His touchdown tosses went to Romano on a 60-yard bomb, McClendon on a 45-yarder down the right sideline and Mike Reuter on a 14-yard fade in the corner of the end zone with 12 seconds left in the half for a 28-14 lead.
“Brandon’s been our best player all year,” Evergreen Park coach Dan Hartman said. “For us to win and keep on going will be however far he takes us.”
Evergreen Park’s defense, led by senior defensive end Kyle Venhuizen (three tackles for a loss), limited Brooks quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw to just two completions for a loss of a yard.
“My ankle was sprained. I hadn’t been practicing,” Venhuizen said. “But I was watching film and I was ready to go for tonight.”
Brooks (8-3) managed to cut the lead to 21-14 on Clark’s second touchdown run in the second quarter, but the Mustangs limited Brooks to 98 yards in the second half. Clark, whom Venhuizen said was the fastest player they had faced all season, finished with 167 yards on 16 carries.