Red Devils come from behind to beat KV 13-10

A Special Report by Mark Smith



Lowell's Bryan Schantz (51) stands guard while quarterback John Alessia completes a first half pass. (All photos by Mark Smith)
Devils Caleb Miranda (40) , Jake Steward (55) and Bryan Stoner (60) get set for action against Kankakee Valley.
Senior Tyler Wildman (32) has to go to the air to gain a few yards last Friday against the Kougars.
KV's Kyle Boyer (69) does his best to keep Lowell junior Trevor Matovina (72) out of the backfield last Friday.
Lowell's Shawn Mooney (4) zips through KV for a 21-yard gain in the third quarter against KV.
As long as you don't look down, some young Lowell fans prefer the top of the stands on a football Friday night.
Lowell's Blake Jansky (44) is on his way to stop KV quarterback Wade Williams (17) Friday night in Lowell.
Lowell's Trevor Matovina (72) suspects that KV QB Wade Williams (17) is about to toss a screen pass to halfback Nate Swafford (42).
Lowell's Collin Sanfratello (1) tries to stop KV's 6-foot-6 quarterback Wade Williams (17) in the KV-Lowell game.
Lowell cheerleaders are surprised to get their picture taken, but they weren't that surprised the Devils beat KV 13-10.
Lowell halfback Tyler Wildman (32) carried the ball 34 times against Kankakee Valley, 20 times in the second half.
In the end it was all about the 'can.' Lowell seniors Ethan Igras (16), Bryan Schantz (51), Shawn Mooney (4), James Steward (55) and Collin Sanfratello (1) escort the old 'Milk Can' back to its rightful place in the Lowell trophy case after the Devils topped Kankakee Valley last Friday. (All photos by Mark Smith)

Copyright © 2018 and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: September 18, 2018 .

Team 1 2 3 4 F
Kankakee Valley (2-3, 0-1 NCC) 7 3 0 0 10
LOWELL (4-1, 1-0 NCC) 0 3 7 3 13

Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 - 75 degrees (at kick-off), Northwest Crossroads Conference game at LOWELL, Ind.

1st Qtr: KV (7-0) Wade Williams, 2-yard run. 77 yards, 8 plays. Markus Ritchie kick. 8:15 left.
2nd Qtr: LOWELL (7-3) Nate Gard, 32-yard field goal. 30 yards, 8 plays. 10:50 left.
KV (10-3)
Markus Ritchie, 46-yard field goal. 60 yards, 6 plays. 7:52 left.
3rd Qtr: LOWELL (10-10)
Tyler Wildman, 2-yard run. 69 yards, 13 plays. Nate Gard kick. 2:49 left.
4th Qtr: LOWELL (10-13) Nate Gard, 39-yard field goal.12 yards, 45 plays (after bad punt snap turned the ball over at the KV 35) 10:24 left.

KV (18 carries, 64 yards, one TD, 0 fumbles): Nate Swafford (HB) 9 carries, 33 yards; Alex Gronkiewicz (HB) 1 (minus-2); Wade Williams (QB) 7 carries, 33 yards (one sack minus-3.

LOWELL (53 carries, 231 yards, one TD, 0 fumbles): Tyler Wildman (HB) 34 carries, 150 yards, TD; Shawn Mooney (WR) 2-29 yards; Kyle Newcom (HB) 1-10 yards; Ryan Marx (QB) 2 (minus-7); Rylee Torrence (WR) 2-14 yards.

LOWELL: John Alessia (QB) 5 of 7, 40 yards, no TDs, no interceptions; Shawn Mooney (WR) 1 of 1, 7 yards.
KV: Wade Williams (QB) 10 of 16, 110 yards.

KV: Reece Williams (TE) 3-22 yards; Markus Ritchie (WR) 3-21 yards; Nate Swafford (HB) 1-1 yard; Jaxon Grace (WR) 2-37 yards; Zach Wagner (WR) 1-29 yards.
LOWELL: Shawn Mooney (WR) 3-32 yards; Mike Langen (TE) 1-4 yards; Collin Sanfratello (WR) 1-4 yards; John Alessia (QB) 1-7 yards.

LOWELL (0); KV (0)


KV (1) Wade Williams; LOWELL (0)


KV: 174 yards, 7 first downs, no turnovers;
LOWELL: 278 yards, 13 first downs, one turnover.

LOWELL (09-14-2018) I wonder if winning high school teams ever think they’re going to lose. I wonder if it ever crosses their mind. Until they trail at halftime.

Last Friday, rival Kankakee Valley led Lowell 10-3 at the half in the opening game of the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) league season.

“They came out strong and we didn't,” said Lowell coach Keith Kilmer. “We were getting beat up front. We just had to find out what worked and a lot of that was No. 32 (halfback Tyler Wildman) playing with a heart twice the size of his body and played like he was 220 pounds.”

“I actually weigh about 140 pounds,” said Wildman who ran 34 times for 150 yards in what turned out to be a 13-10 Lowell victory.

Tyler was the starting halfback in 2017 (189 carries, 901 yards, 10 TDs) so he knew he’d get the ball all the time in all the Lowell games.

“I just didn’t do a lot of weight lifting. I found about 17 things I was allergic to. It was pretty hard to put on weight with all that.”

“You’ve got to love kids like that. That’s how you win games like that. Games like that maybe we shoudn't have won tonight.”

About 2,000 fans saw KV (2-3) take the ball at the 23-yard line after the opening kickoff and score a TD in eight plays. Tall QB Wade Williams (6-6, 205) got into the end zone on a 2-yard run.

Lowell (4-1), trailing by a TD for the first time all year, picked up two first downs before junior Nate Gard missed a 43-yard field goal attempt.

Next time the Devils had the ball they moved into KV territory on a 23-yard pass from junior quarterback John Alessia to Shawn Mooney. Gard kicked a 32-yard field goal to make the score 7-3 with 10:50 left in the second quarter.

But Williams immediately completed a 35-yard pass to junior Jaxon Grace at the Lowell 46. Six plays later, KV sophomore kicker Markus Ritchie lifted a 46-yard field goal to create the 10-3 halftime score.

Did anyone seem worried at halftime that the Devils would lose?

“No," said Wildman. “We’re a second half team. “We knew we could come back and we just came out and did it."

Lowell didn’t get a first down on the first series of the third quarter, but KV couldn't move the ball either. On Lowell’s second possession, the Devils got moving. In 13 plays, all runs (eight by Wildman), the Devils tied the game on a 2-yard run by the Lowell halfback with 2:49 left in the third quarter.

That drive seemed to change the game. Williams was sacked on third down by Blake Jansky and Aaron DuBord and the Kougars had to punt.

A bad fourth down snap that Williams, who is also KV’s punter, couldn’t catch, ended with him being tackled at the KV 35-yard-line. Lowell moved the ball to the 23 where Gard hit a 40-yard field goal to give the Devils the 13-10 lead.

The Kougars had one last chance after a bizarre play. Lowell forced KV to punt on fourth down with 8:30 to play. For a second time, the snap from center bounced back to Williams, who took off running. Lowell was trying so hard to block the punt they overran the play and Williams raced 30 yards to the Lowell 46-yard line.

But the Lowell defense, which has allowed just three touchdowns all season, again stopped the Kougars, who punted with 7:09 to play.

Lowell then ran off 13 plays in a row to run out the clock and walk off with the Devils’ third consecutive win.

“We wore them down a little in the second half,” said Lowell coach Keith Kilmer. “I guess that means we’re working hard enough in practice so that we get stronger as the game goes on.”

Kankakee Valley has only beaten Lowell four times in varsity football. But Lowell’s southern neighbor seems to look forward to the opportunity.

“You rarely, rarely blow KV out,” Kilmer said after the 3-point win. “It's almost always a close game. I don't know if the rivalry means more to them than it does to us. It is lopsided. But if you look at the scores, it's 17-10. It's 14-3. It's 20-14. There are very few 38-0s.

“It came down to conditioning tonight because they were beating us up front at the start. But we have some physicality issues. We’ve got to start playing physical more often.”

The winner of the annual Lowell-KV game wins something called the old ‘Milk Can’, as a traveling trophy.

It’s a very ‘old school’ piece of dairy farm equipment that has the name of both teams and recent final scores written on it. The Lowell players carried the ‘can’ over to the student section after the game so their friends and fans could see it up close.

Really, Tyler? A milk can?

“We like it,” Wildman said. “We don’t want them (KV) to have it, so we’ll keep it another year.”

DEVIL NOTES: Lowell junior Nate Gard has at least one successful field goal in every game so far. After five games, Gard (5-9, 135) is 6-of-11 in field goals and 14 of 14 on extra points.

Kankakee Valley’s touchdown last Friday was the first one scored against Lowell in the first quarter this season.

Senior Ethan Igras, who has played with a large ‘club-like’ cast on his right hand for four weeks now, made his return to QB against Kankakee Valley. With his injury. For one play in the fourth quarter.

“We worked on that all week,” said Kilmer. ”If it was a perfect snap. He’s probably our second best receiver (in practice) with the “club’ on. He’s done that for four weeks in practice.

“He was just going to run with it. We were going to run ‘Wildcat’. The the center snaps it at his knees. That might have been one of the dumbest calls in the history of football.”

Lowell used freshman quarterback Ryan Marx (5-5, 145) at quarterback in the second quarter. Marx had played most of the game the week before at Clark, a 51-0 victory, carrying five times for 74 yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s limited yet on what he can do (throwing the ball) but he’s going to be all right. When he’s out there, you wouldn’t know he’s a freshman.”

Tyler Wildman said that Lowell having just 44 players on the varsity roster isn’t as big a problem as it might seem.

“It’s a little bit of a hardship, but we just all work together and pick up for each other as a team,” he said. “We just all do what we can and pick each other up.”

Kilmer says it's not a big deal.

“What does an NFL team have? 45? 53 overall, but just 45 on game day.”

At the start of the season, Lowell had seven players playing on offense and defense most of the game. But underclassmen have been noticeably taking some of that double duty off the seniors.

“We really only have a couple of guys who never come off the field now,” Kilmer said.

Coach: Keith Kilmer, 69-31 in 9th year at school
Aug. 17 at Crown Point 6A W 17 7    
Aug. 24   Portage 6A L 3 7    
Sep. 1   Hammond Morton 4A W 38 0    
Sep. 7 at Hammond Clark 3A W 51 0    
Sep. 14   Kankakee Valley 4A © W 13 10    
Sep. 21 at Highland 4A © 7:00 pm    
Sep. 28   Munster 5A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 5 at Andrean 3A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 12   Hobart 4A © 7:00 pm    

Coach: James Broyles, 2-3 in 1st year at school
Aug. 17   Rensselaer Central 2A L 12 34    
Aug. 24   Wheeler 3A L 9 21    
Aug. 31 at South Bend Washington 4A W 23 20    
Sep. 7 at North Newton 2A W 16 13    
Sep. 14 at Lowell 4A © L 10 13    
Sep. 21   Hobart 4A © 7:00 pm    
Sep. 28   Andrean 3A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 5 at Highland 4A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 12 at Munster 5A © 7:00 pm    

  W-L Pts OP W-L Pts OP Streak
Andrean 1-0 41 7 4-  1 182 55 Won 4
Lowell 1-0 13 10 4-  1 122 24 Won 3
Highland 1-0 30 20 3-  2 139 63 Won 3
Hobart 0-1 7 41 4-  1 107 84 Lost 1
Kankakee Valley 0-1 10 13 2-  3 70 101 Lost 1
Munster 0-1 20 30 1-  4 84 120 Lost 2
Friday, Sep. 14
Andrean 41, Hobart 7 ©
Highland 30, Munster 20 ©
Lowell 13, Kankakee Valley 10 ©
Friday, Sep. 21
Andrean at Munster ©, 7 pm
Hobart at Kankakee Valley ©, 7 pm
Lowell at Highland ©, 7 pm
Friday, Sep. 28
Andrean at Kankakee Valley ©, 7 pm
Highland at Hobart ©, 7 pm
Munster at Lowell ©, 7 pm
©conference game