Heuer's 5 rushing TDs leads Red Devils to 37-19 win over Portage in home opener

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith



Lowell's Cam Stojancevich (17) leads Lowell to the line of scrimmage with Ethan Difiore (53), Spencer Barta (42), Jacob Chandler (12) and Joe Heuer (21) ready to rumble. Lowell won the home opener for the second year in a row. 
(All photos by Mark Smith)
Lowell linebacker Spencer Barta (42) gives the evil eye to the Portage offense early in last week's game. Barta was in on 12 tackles and forced a fumble on the opening kickoff against Portage.
Senior center Jake Lax (50) celebrates with Joe Heuer after Lowell's third TD against Portage. Lowell defeated Portage for the first time in three years.
Lowell's Caleb Miranda (44) watches Portage QB Tylee Swopes (3) hand off to fullback Jermain Mead (4) in the Lowell home opener last Friday.
Portage quarterback Tylee Swopes (3) fired two TD passes in the Indians' game at Lowell last Friday.
Lowell's San Dumsky (64) wants to reach out and touch Portage QB Tylee Swopes (3) early in last Friday's game in Lowell.
Lowell students made a noble effort at social distancing at the Lowell-Portage game last Friday night.
Portage running back Jakar Gordon (10) is faced with Lowell linebacker Kyler Newcom (7) on this first half running play against Portage.
The Lowell sideline was a happy place Friday as the Devils led all the way to win 37-19.
In the Covid-19 era, face masks are a family affair. A majority of fans had masks while Lowell took the field for the Red Devil's first home game.
The official Red Devil designer mask was certainly in fashion at the 2020 home opener as the Devils hosted Portage.
Lowell junior Joe Heuer (21) looks for the referee after his fifth touchdown of the night against Portage. Heuer also scored five TDs on November 1st in a 55-20 win at Griffith last year. (All photos by Mark Smith)
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Revised: September 03, 2020 .
Team 1 2 3 4 F
PORTAGE (1-1) 0 13 0 6 19
LOWELL (2-0) 13 6 12 6 37

Friday, August 28, 2020 - 80 degrees, nonconference in LOWELL, IN


1st Qtr: LOWELL (6-0) Joe Heuer, 3-yard TD run. 21-yard drive, 5 plays. Bad snap on kick. 9:45 left.
LOWELL (13-0)
Joe Heuer, 42-yard TD run. 52-yard drive, 4 plays. Michael Jenkins kick. 3:53 left.

2nd Qtr: LOWELL (19-0) Joe Heuer, 15-yard TD run. 38-yard drive, 3 plays. Kick wide, 4:39 left.
PORTAGE (6-19)
Devan Howard, 42-yard pass from Tylee Swopes. 40-yard drive, 4 plays. Bad snap on kick. 3:53.
PORTAGE (13-19)
Tylee Swoopes, 1-yard run. 79-yard drive, 6 plays. Johnson kick. 0:41
3rd Qtr: LOWELL (25-13) Joe Heuer, 15-yard TD run. 37-yard drive, 5 plays. Kick blocked, 4:39 left.
LOWELL (31-13)
Riley Bank, 75-yard fumble recovery. 2-point pass incomplete, 0:47 left.

4th Qtr: PORTAGE (31-19) Devan Howard, 4-yard pass from Tylee Swopes. Bad snap on kick. 2:26.
LOWELL (37-19)
Joe Heuer, 37-yard run. (last play of the game) 51-yard drive, 5 plays. 0:00

PORTAGE (35 carries, 127 yards, 0 fumbles, one TD): Jakar Gordon (HB) 10- 55 yards; Jermain Mead (FB) 9-46 yards; Tylee Swopes (QB) 16 carries, 26 yards.

LOWELL (46 carries, 287 yards, 5 TDs): Joe Heuer (HB) 31 carries, 232 yards, 5 TDs; Jacob Chandler (HB) 2-9 yards; Ryan Marx (HB) 1-6 yards; Dylan Ohlenkamp HB) 4-6 yards, fumble; Johnny Johnson (QB) 3-12 yards; Cam Stojancevich (QB) 6-28 yards.
PORTAGE: Tylee Swopes (QB) 12 of 15, 158 yards, 2 TDs, 0 interceptions;
LOWELL: Cam Stojancevich (QB) 4 of 12, 35 yards, 0 TDs, one interception.

PORTAGE: Devan Howard (WR) 9 catches, 144 yards, 2 TDs, one fumble, Danny Puplava (WR) 3-18 yards, Colton Wilke (WR) 1-5 yards.
LOWELL : Michael Havel (WR) 2 catches, 13 yards; Adam Bank (WR) 2-22 yards.


PORTAGE: 292 yards, 12 first downs, 2 turnovers;
LOWELL: 323 yards, 15 first downs, 2 turnovers.

LOWELL (08-28-2020) When Lowell signed up Portage for week two on the Red Devil football schedule six years ago, I didn’t assume they’d win the first two games in many seasons.

But, for the third time in six years, Class 4A Lowell is 2-0 after facing two Class 6A schools. Starting the season with two of northern Indiana’s largest schools has been a challenge, but it has not yet been the mismatch it appears to be enrollment-wise.

The Devils improved over week one with a 37-19 win over Portage and they cleared a hurdle they set up at the start of each football season.

“They (CP and Portage) both compliment what we look for in our team,” said coach Keith Kilmer. “Crown Point is usually big and physical. Portage wasn’t that big this year. Last year they were a lot bigger. But they have a lot of speed. They’re athletic.”

Lowell won in ‘old school’ Lowell fashion with big plays on defense and special teams plus a running attack that turned first downs into touchdowns. Lowell gained 291 yards and five TDs rushing on 47 carries. And the Devils got two big turnovers that produced TDs in the first and fourth quarter.

And they may have answered a question that the Devils carried into this season. Midway through 2019, the Lowell coaches took a sophomore safety named Joe Heuer and put him at running back, even though he was all of 5-foot-6 and 171 pounds. Heuer was a surprise. ‘Little Joe’ gained 412 yards and scored nine touchdowns on 68 carries as a runner and he returned eight kickoffs for a 41-yard average and two more TDs.

But the tougher part of Lowell’s schedule was the early games against CP, Portage and Morton. Heuer didn’t average six yards a carry against those guys. Last week against Portage from the big school Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) on an 80-degree night, Heuer carried 31 times for 232 yards and scored a touchdown in every quarter.
“He’s just a Red Devil football player,” said Kilmer. “He’s a tough kid. The kids’ been on our sidelines since fourth grade as a ball boy. He’s lived it. So he’s been out here and he’s ready to take his turn as one of those backs that have traditionally put this team’s offense in his back.”

Lowell started with a boom as a big hit by Spencer Barta forced a fumble recovered by Lowell’s Kyle Simmons at the Portage 21-yard line. Five plays later, Heuer (5-7, 170) scored on a 3-yard run and Lowell had a 6-0 lead early in the first quarter. Portage punted the first two times they had the ball and Heuer, who gained 53 yards on 19 carries at Crown Point in the season opener, broke loose on a 42-yard run to give the Devils a 13-0 lead with 3:53 still left in the first quarter.
Lowell linebacker Caleb Miranda recovered a Portage fumble at the 38-yard line and Heuer scored on an 11-yard run to make it 19-0 early in the second quarter.

Portage rallied late in the second quarter as QB Tylee Swopes began to find top receiver Devan Howard. Howard grabbed a 42-yard TD pass to make it 19-6 with 3:53 left in the half and after a Lowell punt, Howard caught passes of 41 and 22 yards to set up Swopes for a one-yard TD with just six seconds left in the half.

After an exchange of punts at the start of the third quarter, Lowell drove 37 yards to score. Heuer carried on five consecutive plays including a 15-yard TD run that made the score 25-13. Nothing fancy. Just letting the Lowell junior pick his way through the line.

Then a play that left a bad taste in the mouth of Portage folks as they headed back to Porter County. The Indians (1-1) drove deep into Lowell territory and seemed set to score when Swopes hit Howard with a short pass just as Howard was smacked in the back by Lowell cornerback Sean Lamping, knocking the ball out of Howard’s hands. It appeared to be an incomplete pass but the referees let the play go on. Lowell’s sophomore linebacker Riley Bank scooped up the ball and raced 80 yards for Lowell’s fifth TD of the game with 47 seconds left in the third quarter.

Kilmer was glad that Bank (5-10, 180), who had a pass interception in the win at Crown Point, didn’t stop playing.

“If you watch me on film,” said Kilmer, “you‘ll see I didn’t move (when Bank ran for the TD). I thought sure it was coming back. I’d have been screaming and yelling if I was them (the Indians) too.”

That play killed any Portage comeback hopes. It was 31-19 when Heuer scored on the final play of the game on a 41-yard run. Kilmer said that he’d have preferred if Joe had stopped short of the end zone as time ran out and he apologized to Portage coach Terry Chestovich after the game.

Lowell didn’t make a big deal out of beating two 6A schools, probably because they have state-ranked Hobart and Andrean (plus undefeated Kankakee Valley) down the road. Also, because Lowell hasn’t had their complete team yet.

Lowell has more than one player sitting due to the Covid-19 situation. They have no positive tests but the Devils do have players who were in contact with a positive test recipient. Boys who miss practice because they must be quarantined must then practice a certain amount of times before they can play again.

“Our roster’s going to change about 15 different times this year,” said Keith Kilmer.

DEVIL NOTES: Lowell is 2-0 for the first time since 2017 when they went 8-0 on the regular season. Since the start of the 2017 season, Lowell is now 17-2 at home.

Since Lowell renewed their series with Portage in 2015, the Devils and Indians have now split six games. Since the start of the 2015 season, Lowell is now 54-15. The Devils are rated 11th in the Indiana Football Coaches Association (IFCA) poll.

The crowd at Lowell was about 750 fans, lower than a usual home game, certainly due to the Covid-19 virus situation. Lowell has five home games this year including a first-time ever meeting with Wheeler this coming Friday, September 4 and the rematch with defending 4A regional champ Hobart on September 18.

Lowell’s Joe Heuer now has 14 career rushing touchdowns on 118 carries and he has running back skills that many backs do not have. Heuer is unusually good at ‘reading’ his blockers, almost hiding behind lineman until he’s set to make his move. Despite being just 5-foot-6, Joe almost always initiates contact with the defender, most times with his right shoulder. Heuer also bends down lower than the tackler and thrusts forward on contact so he can break tackles in stride and run away. He says its just his natural running style but few running backs at this level actually do these things.

Joe Heuer’s days as a safety may be over, except maybe late in a game in an emergency. Any position preference?

“I like ‘em both,” he said.

Coach: Keith Kilmer, 84-38 in 11th year at school
Aug. 21 at Crown Point 6A W 6 0    
Aug. 28   Portage 6A W 37 19    
Sep. 4   Wheeler 2A 7:00 pm    
Sep. 11 at Griffith 4A 7:00 pm    
Sep. 18   Hobart 4A © 7:00 pm    
Sep. 25   Kankakee Valley 4A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 2 at Highland 4A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 9   Munster 5A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 16 at Andrean 2A © 7:00 pm    

Coach: Terry Chestovich, 1-1 in 1st year at school, 25-31 in 6th year overall
Aug. 21   Hanover Central 3A W 42 40    
Aug. 28 at Lowell 4A L 19 37    
Sep. 4   Lake Central 6A © 7:00 pm    
Sep. 11   Merrillville 6A © 7:00 pm    
Sep. 18 at Crown Point 6A © 7:00 pm    
Sep. 25 at Chesterton 6A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 2   Michigan City 5A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 9 at Valparaiso 5A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 16   LaPorte 5A © 7:00 pm    

Lowell's next Opponent:

Coach: Adam Hudak, 14-18 in 4th year at school, 20-34 in 6th year overall
Aug. 21 at River Forest 3A W 21 14    
Aug. 28 at Kankakee Valley 4A L 7 45    
Sep. 4 at Lowell 4A 7:00 pm    
Sep. 11   South Central (Union Mills) 1A 7:00 pm    
Sep. 18   Boone Grove 2A © 7:00 pm    
Sep. 25   Osceloa Grace 7:00 pm    
Oct. 2 at Hammond Noll 7:00 pm    
Oct. 9   Hanover Central 3A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 16 at Griffith 4A © 7:00 pm    


  W-L Pts OP W-L Pts OP Streak
Kankakee Valley 0-0 0 0 2-  0 73 14 Won 2
Lowell 0-0 0 0 2-  0 43 19 Won 2
Andrean 0-0 0 0 1-  1 41 40 Won 1
Hobart 0-0 0 0 1-  1 31 33 Lost 1
Highland 0-0 0 0 0-  1 0 31 Lost 2
Munster 0-0 0 0 0-  2 16 87 Lost 13
Friday, Aug. 28
Andrean 28, Lake Central 0
Crown Point 31, Highland 0
Hanover 49, Munster 16
Kankakee Valley 45, Wheeler 7
Lowell 37, Portage 19
Merrillville 23, Hobart 7
Friday, Sep. 4
West Side at Highland, 7 pm
Griffith at Hobart, 7 pm
Kankakee Valley at Washington, 6:30 pm
New Prairie at Andrean, 7 pm
Clay at Munster, 6:30 pm
Wheeler at Lowell, 7 pm
Friday, Sep. 11
EC Central at Andrean, 7 pm
Highland at Lake Station, 7 pm
Hobart at Culver Academy, 6:30 pm
Kankakee Valley at North Newton, 7 pm
Lowell at Griffith, 7 pm
Munster at Rensselaer, 7 pm
©conference game