A picture of Simeon’s football team kneeling during the national anthem on Friday in Northbrook caught fire on social media, evoking strong responses and discussions.
Simeon coach Dante Culbreath says he didn’t know his team was planning a protest.
“I turned my back and then turned around and it was happening,” Culbreath said. “I don’t think it was planned, it just kind of happened.”
The Wolverines lost to Glenbrook North on Friday in the Class 8A state playoffs, so found themselves in the Public League playoffs on Thursday at Gately Stadium. The team stood for the anthem.
“I talked with the guys,” Culbreath said. “They kind of wanted to make a statement. We had a conversation and it won’t happen again.”
Simeon controlled every second on Thursday, dominating Vincennes Avenue rival Morgan Park 34-0.
“The rivalry pumped us up more than them I think,” Simeon junior Jayshon Jackson said. “We came out strong, wanting to win.”
Sophomore quarterback Alante Brown rushed 10 times for 71 yards and two touchdowns. He also connected with junior Leon Payne on an 80-yard touchdown pass. Payne had four receptions for 111 yards for the Wolverines (6-5).
Running back Arkalius Howard added 11 carries for 96 yards for Simeon, which will likely face Payton in the third round next week.
The Wolverines’ defense held Morgan Park (8-3) to just 170 yards. Davonte Davis-Smith and Jalen Perkins each intercepted passes for Simeon. The Wolverines fully contained Morgan Park quarterback Benjamin Little. The junior was 4-for-11 for 49 yards.
“It shows the caliber of team we have,” Culbreath said. “If we are rolling we are a tough team to beat. I have a bunch of young guys out there and they got together and played well collectively. We have athletes running around that made plays.”
Curie and Hubbard also picked up playoff wins on Thursday. The Condors beat Simeon the past two seasons and have won the last two city titles.
“We were kind of down from the playoff loss after Friday,” Jackson said. “But we have pulled things back together and are after a different championship. We want to win city and win the Prep Bowl. We’ve been wanting a rematch [with Curie] for awhile, we’ve lost two years in a row to them and we want our revenge.”
Simeon and Morgan Park used to meet up every season. That hasn’t been the case for several years now.
“This was the first game against them in five or six years,” Culbreath said. “They stopped it because of what happened with the boys basketball team at Chicago State and then something happened with a knife here at Gately.”
There was a large crowd on hand from both schools on Thursday and things went off without a hitch.
“That means we put the fire out,” Culbreath said. “We were able to get together tonight and have a good game.”