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Balanced attack helps Payton handle Clark

Damien Goodman was a star on both sides of the ball. He had 11 carries for 75 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown run. The senior also caught five passes for 83 yards.

Payton’s Damien Goodman (3) scores a touchdown against Clark.
Payton’s Damien Goodman (3) scores a touchdown against Clark.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

It wasn’t just dumb luck that Payton’s Damien Goodman found himself in the right place at the right time to grab the interception that sealed the Grizzlies’ 35-22 win against Clark on Thursday at Rockne Stadium.

“I knew they were going to pass and I knew they were going to try to get it in the end zone,” Goodman said. “I had my man, saw the quarterback looking for the big play and I came up and picked it off.”

Goodman was a star on both sides of the ball. He had 11 carries for 75 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown run. The senior also caught five passes for 83 yards.

“We had to keep putting points on the board in the second half,” Payton quarterback Sage Shindler said. “We knew they were getting tired with the fast break stuff we were doing. We tried to wear them down.”

It worked. The Grizzlies (4-0, 1-0 Illini Prairie State) started breaking longer runs late in the third quarter. Senior Cortez Savage had 10 carries for 103 yards and a 20-yard touchdown run.

“We saw it on the field, they were slowing down,” Goodman said. “They were still hitting hard but they weren’t getting to us as fast.”

Shindler was 12-for-18 passing for 189 yards and two touchdowns.

“The challenge today was a Clark team that is bigger than us physically and has some really dynamic athletes,” Payton coach George Klupchak said. “We had to make sure we didn’t get out hit and we rose to that challenge.”

The Grizzlies have been consistent state playoff qualifiers the past few seasons but haven’t been able to win that first round game. They knocked off Tinley Park 41-40 on the road in Week 1, which could be a sign of progress.

“That was really sweet,” Savage said. “It really set the bar high for us and where our season can go. We had never beaten a team outside the Public League.”

Clark coach Kevin Simmons has a very young team, but expects to make the state playoffs again this season.

“Football is crazy but from what I see Kenwood is the only other tough one [on the schedule],” Simmons said. “This game was ours and we gave it up. Payton played good though, have to give credit to them.”

Eagles quarterback Trevon Sanders was sensational running the ball. The senior had 13 carries for 205 yards and one touchdown. He ripped off a 71-yard run in the first half and a 60-yard run in the second half.

“He was tough but nothing we couldn’t handle,” Savage, who is a linebacker and running back for the Grizzlies, said. “If you look at the scoreboard we did what we had to do.”

The Eagles (2-2, 0-1) don’t have a single senior on either line. Freshman running back/receiver/safety Willie Taylor was an eye-opening talent. He had six carries for 44 yards.

“I’m just waiting for the future,” Simmons said. “We will get there, slowly but surely.”Clark doesn’t have an actual practice field. The Eagles practice on a patch of grass next to the school.

“Yeah, but some schools don’t even have that,” Simmons said. “I’m grateful for it.”