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.