Hanover Central advances with sectional opener win over Wheeler
(Cedar Lake) Hanover Central advanced to the semifinal round of the IHSAA football tournament with a 34-14 win over Wheeler at the Wildcat Den Friday night.
All week long, head coach Brian Parker told his team that it wasn’t a revenge game, borrowing an expression he learned early in coaching, “You never get ahead trying to get even.” Nonetheless, the victory was sweet for a Wildcats team that watched the Bearcats celebrate on their field just three weeks ago. In that game, Hanover let a lead and a win slip away when Russell Moricz kicked a 30 yard field goal with :04 left to give Wheeler a 16-14 victory.
This time the Bearcats (4-5) struggled to keep the game close. Hanover Central (5-5) jumped out to a 14-3 lead at the half, and that was after having 75 yard and 70 yard touchdown passes called back for ineligible receivers downfield.
Wheeler’s season ended with three consecutive losses. They were decimated by injuries: the Bearcats played without both starting running backs, Payton Hinkle and Nathan Leduc, who both rushed for over 100 yards in Wheeler’s September 28th regular season win at Hanover. Defensive standout Anthony Traficante also left the game with a leg injury in the second half.
Hanover QB Tyler Fruehling passed for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns, both caught by senior WR Brandon Demoff. Fruehling added 66 yards rushing and another TD. Adam Graham had 57 yards receiving and 4 extra points filling in as HC’s placekicker. RB Brett Driscoll had 93 yards rushing and two touchdowns (7 yds., 5 yds.).
Driscoll led Hanover tacklers with 7. Connor Wotherspoon had 6 tackles and a blocked punt that led to a Wildcat TD. Michael Simon had a sack.
It was just the second tournament win ever for Hanover Central football, and their first since 2016. Hanover advances to the semifinal round of Class 3A Sectional 25 to visit 8-1 Andrean. The 59ers beat Hanover earlier this season 24-9, and won the Northwest Crossroads Conference title.
For complete coverage of Hanover Central’s sectional win over Wheeler, pick up a copy of the Lowell Tribune. Look for it at newsstands Wednesday
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Stats courtesy Adam Noel, Hanover Central football statistician