Simeon beats Lincoln-Way West in a high-scoring battle

Simeon's Alante Brown (3) breaks a long run for a touchdown. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.
Simeon's Alante Brown (3) breaks a long run for a touchdown. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

Simeon has cruised through the season without facing much adversity. Even Phillips was unable to really give the Wolverines a solid test.

That changed on Saturday in New Lenox. The Wolverines survived their first battle, beating Lincoln-Way West 48-35 in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs.

The Warriors (8-3) led 28-27 at the half. Simeon seemed to make two big mistakes for every big offensive play it made.

“We needed a battle like that,” Simeon coach Dante Culbreath said. “Maybe not exactly like that. We made too many mistakes on special teams but we fought through it.”

Again and again, the Wolverines were able to come up with moments of brilliance to stay in the game.

Receiver Rashaan Palmer was a revelation. He had five catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns. Palmer had a 70-yard and a 15-yard touchdown catch, but it was the six-yard scoring grab that was most impressive. It was an incredible, leaping catch in the back of the end zone that showcased all of his 6-4 frame.

“I believe in him no matter what situation we are in, no matter who is covering him or what predicament we are in he is going to make a play for me,” Simeon quarterback Alante Brown said. “That’s just how we feel with each other.”

Brown is a Michigan State recruit. Palmer has interest from Southeastern Missouri, Northern Iowa and Western Illinois.

“He has been doing this all year,” Culbreath said. “He’s so underrated it is unbelievable. I haven’t seen anything like it in the state of Illinois. I want people to keep sleeping. Well, I don’t want the colleges to keep sleeping but the other teams can.”

Brown had eight carries for 106 yards. His 43-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter gave the Wolverines (11-0) the lead for good. He was 11-for-19 for 161 yards and three touchdowns.

Brown’s calm, confident demeanor and leadership is nearly as important to Simeon as his athletic ability.

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“Alante does a lot of film work,” Culbreath said. “That is why he’s calm. He knows what the defense is trying to do out there. It’s his senior year, he’s been through a lot and he’s getting it done for us.”

Senior DeAngelo Hudson had 13 carries for 132 yards. His 67-yard touchdown run with 7:27 to play sealed the win.

“That was the first time we’ve been down all season,” Hudson said. “That was real tough running. Those boys played so hard, they gave it to me every down. I tried to fight and give it right back to them.”

DeKari Waight had five catches for 62 yards and Derek Flowers had eight carries for 77 yards for the Wolverines.

Senior Kenshawn Bragg returned an interception 33-yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Kenyan Butler and Jermaine Thurmond each had two sacks for Simeon.

Donte’ Barber scored on a 61-yard touchdown on Lincoln-Way West’s first play from scrimmage. He had 12 carries for 108 yards.

Warriors quarterback Greyson Grimm was 12-for-21 for 115 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Lincoln-Way West senior Aidan Tyk returned a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.

“We came in to a hostile environment and beat a team that played their hearts out on every single play,” Culbreath said. “We are better than this though. We are better than what we showed.”

The Wolverines will host Nazareth in the quarterfinals next weekend.

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