Seminole Ridge Holds On In Second Half To Defeat Santaluces

New Seminole Ridge head coach Rick Casko addresses the Hawks after their first regular season win.

On Friday, Aug. 24, the Seminole Ridge High School football squad hosted its regular season opener against Santaluces High School, and the Hawks powered through a grueling second half to seal the 23-6 win. The victory marked new head coach Rick Casko’s first win with the team.

The Hawks (1-0) weathered an early storm. Santaluces (0-1) notched the game’s first score. The Chiefs crossed the goal line on a 63-yard touchdown run on their initial possession. They missed the extra point but took an early 6-0 lead.

The Seminole Ridge squad turned the ball over on its first drive of the game, but regained possession after intercepting a Chiefs pass two plays later. The Hawks then responded, capping a three-play drive with an 83-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kaimyn Castilla to receiver Branden Schabert. The kick by Danny Friere gave the Hawks a 7-6 lead. The Chiefs would not retake the lead for the remainder of the game.

Matters became worse for Santaluces after a high snap on a punt forced a safety in their end zone. The play resulted in Seminole Ridge extending the lead to 9-6. The Hawks were poised with good field position at midfield on the ensuing kick. Fullback Peter Sinoyiannis capped a seven-play drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Friere added the point after, which put the Hawks up 16-6 to conclude the first quarter.

The Hawks scored for the last time, but it would be all they would need. Castilla connected with Schabert on a 38-yard pass that set up a Corey Polk seven-yard touchdown run. Polk powered his way through, carrying Santaluces defenders along the way. With 4:27 remaining in the half, Frier’s kick extended the Seminole Ridge lead to 23-6.

The start of the second half was not what the Hawks planned. Santaluces recovered a Seminole Ridge fumble on the kickoff, giving them the ball on the Hawk 28-yard line. The Chiefs drove to the Hawk one-yard line and punched in a touchdown that was nullified by a penalty. The Seminole Ridge defense was able to shut down the Chief scoring threat with a solid goal-line stand.

Both teams struggled with moving the ball consistently in the second half, but the Hawk defense carried the weight successfully to the final whistle to secure the 23-6 win.

“Defense did a great job,” Casko said. “We didn’t punt in the first half. Our kids really hung in there and kept playing. It was a total team effort.”

Sinoyiannis, Schabert and Polk each are credited with a score on the night. Shane Schneider earned one sack on defense.

The Hawks host Suncoast High School on Friday, Aug. 31. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.