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First touchdown a thrill for Sandwich's Eric Schwartz

10/30/2013, 5:51pm CDT
By Rick Armstrong

Sandwich tight end Eric Schwartz, who caught his first touchdown pass and the only scoring pass the Indians threw during the regular season, is looking forward to Friday’s playoff matchup with archrival Plano.

One and done? Eric Schwartz hopes not, on a couple levels.

“It was pretty exciting,” said Schwartz, a tight end on the Sandwich football team that is preparing for a first-round IHSA Class 4A playoff game Friday night (7 p.m.) at archrival Plano.

“I’ve been playing (football) here since I was 5-years-old, including SYTF (Sandwich Youth Tackle Football) so that was huge for me. It was my first touchdown ever.”

Three days earlier, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior had caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Daulton Murphy in the team’s 35-21 win over Lisle that sealed the 5-4 Indians’ playoff berth.

Touchdown passes in coach Dusty Behringer’s wing-T offense are rarer than a $2 bill.

“We like to throw when we want to throw, not when we have to,” is one of the coach’s mantras.

The catch gave Schwartz four receptions on the season for a team-high 120 yards. It was the lone touchdown pass Murphy — 9-for-27 for 201 yards passing this season — has thrown.

“It is true,” said Schwartz. “That’s why you see us throw on a second-and-one because they think we’re gonna run because that’s what we always do. … We’ve been running the same thing (on offense) forever. How are we not good at what we do if we’ve been running it for that long?”

Led by running back Austin Breunig (156-852), the Indians ground game features four players with 331 yards or more rushing.

Schwartz, who earned all-conference and honorable mention all-area honors last year at defensive end, has had an expanded role this season. He’s played O-line before and at Sandwich, the tight end’s primary responsibilities are blocking.

“This summer at a 7-on-7 we needed a third tight end and asked him if he’d like to try it,” said Behringer. “He’s a big, athletic kid we know can block. Turns out, he’s got some hands.”

On defense, Schwartz continues to excel. He’s second on the team with 76 tackles (42 solo, 34 assists), which include a team-high nine sacks for 63 yards in losses. Five of those sacks came the previous week against Reed-Custer, one short of tying a state record.

“If we’d have known that, we probably would have let him play in the fourth quarter,” said Behringer, whose team started its playoff run three weeks ago at 2-4.

The Indians started the season with just 10 seniors and have grown up.

“I think it was just one of those years, our team’s better than our record shows,” said Schwartz.

Seeded 12th, Sandwich goes into the game with the only win over the 8-1 and fifth-seeded Reapers. The Indians have also won the last four meetings between the two.

“We can’t go in there all high and mighty, but having that win under our belts does give us some confidence, which is a good thing,” said Schwartz, who had a key defensive stop in that 24-20 decision, tackling Plano RB Weslye Brown for a loss on fourth-and-1 inside the Sandwich 5-yard line late in the game.

Having an uncle who played football and wrestled at Plano, Schwartz knows the rivalry well.

“In my time there hasn’t been much fighting or trash talking as you might think there’d be between two big rivals,” he said. “It’s fun and there’s a lot of respect between the two.”

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