Haas, Wheaton Warrenville South defense shut down Simeon
Finding No. 6 in a sea of burnt orange Wheaton Warrenville South jerseys isn't the difficult part.
It's finding plays on the football field Maison Haas wasn't a major contributing factor for.
The Wheaton Warrenville South senior turned in quite the signature performance in the Tigers' 12-6 season-opening victory over Simeon on Saturday.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pounder had two interceptions at cornerback, kicked a 42-yard field goal, handled kickoffs, served as the punter -- which included two different punts downed deep in Simeon territory -- and had some punt return action all to ensure a gutsy all-around team performance wasn't about to be wasted in the furious finish.
"Our team is going to be a bunch of junkyard dogs," Haas said. "Not only today, but throughout the whole season. And, that's something that I truly believe we'll keep [demonstrating] moving forward because I love every single person on this team. They have all been my brothers since day one."
Whether it was senior linebacker John Jensen flying into piles for combo tackles, senior defensive back Connor Sliwa producing timely defensive pass breakups or the Tigers' defensive line holding strongly, that type of description was evidently earned.
"I know that we have the same exact mentality; and if we can go in every single week with that, I think that will be the exact same as far as [results can go]," Haas said.
"I think we definitely needed to make a mark on who we are," Haas continued. "And, [demonstrate] what 'Tiger Football' really is. Coming off last year [3-6]; I love all those guys. I do, but this year is different. This year is going to be different. My team is all pumped up."
The Tigers (1-0) cashed-in on their opening drive with Haas' 42-yard field goal for the quick 3-0 lead. After forcing a Wolverines (0-1) punt, WW South was back in business until junior quarterback Luca Carbonaro's completion to Daijon Riley was stripped and swiftly returned 25 yards by Dewayne Brooks for the touchdown to take the lead with 1:29 remaining in the first quarter. The ensuing extra point was blocked.
WW South rebounded with Carbonaro finding Amari Williams on a four-play drive on an 11-yard score with 6:51 left in the second quarter to re-take the Tigers lead at 10-6.
After the Wolverines and Tigers both turned in fruitless drives, a series of three consecutive turnovers set the scene for a messy end of the half.
First, Wolverines quarterback Keshaun Parker was intercepted by Haas on a jump ball to the sideline. Then, Tigers running back Max Schlegal, who started in place of senior Matt Crider due to an apparent left leg injury, fumbled, which was recovered by the Wolverines in a pile. Parker promptly fumbled, which was recovered by Jensen, to give the Tigers the ball back with under 40 seconds to go near midfield.
Carbonaro was sacked and then soon found Riley for a 35-yard gain to set things up for a potential score, but an ensuing intentional grounding and a deep incompletion at the buzzer left the score 10-6 Tigers at the half.
Out of the break, Simeon's drive ended on a failed fake punt, but WW South wasn't able to generate much momentum. Haas' punt rolled to the Simeon 2-yard-line, which eventually led to them punting, but the snap was high and rolled out of the back of the endzone for a safety to inch the Tigers lead to 12-6 with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
Haas nabbed his second interception in the Wolverines' first drive of the fourth quarter. The Tigers secured the game over the course of a furious two-and-a-half-minute stretch. After forcing a Wolverines punt, the Tigers drove to the Simeon-28 following an initial Carbonaro strike to Max O'Connell, but it was wiped out due to an ineligible man down field penalty and was forced to punt.
Haas settled down a high snap and coaxed a friendly roll down to the Simeon-17 with 19 seconds left. After a pair of Wolverines rushes, Parker's final heave attempt was initially caught, but the attempted laterals was later pounced on by Tigers linebacker Jackson Whitkanack to secure the victory.
"[Haas] is a great competitor," WW South coach Sean Norris said. "You don't see many guys that can kick the ball and compete like he does. He's got a big heart -- like a lot of these guys, especially these seniors -- these kids play with so much heart and so much effort. It showed today..."
Tigers sophomore running back Ian Yorke, who was called up to varsity in light of Crider's leg injury, had 24 rushing yards. Norris expects Crider to return this season, but the exact return date is unknown. Carbonaro was 11 for 15 for 154 yards and a touchdown.
Simeon's Te'shon McGee had 93 rushing yards to pace Simeon.
"Kids did a good job. Too many turnovers," Simeon coach Derrick Hunter said. "We ended up losing 26 players [from] last year. We brought back quite a few of my defensive players...offense is playing catch-up. We'll be alright. It was a good game. Wheaton Warrenville South has got a good team, good coaching staff. Referees were outstanding. [We'll] be alright; we've just got some work to do."