Week 5 -  Football Game of the Week Preview


4A Kankakee Valley (5-0)
at 4A Lowell (4-0)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith



After an unscheduled week off, Lowell football is back on the home field Friday night for a traditional rivalry game against undefeated Kankakee Valley. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  Friday, Sept. 25, 2020.

Where:  Lowell High School, 3 miles west of I-65 on US Route 2.

Tickets:  $6.

Kickoff:   7 p.m.
TV/Radio/Internet: Live Internet feed on RRSN.com (pay per view). The RRSN Lowell games you got for free last year are now (as many state broadcasts now are) pay-per-view.

Enrollment: Kankakee Valley - 1,028; LOWELL – 1,107.

In my time, these have always been medium size public schools. In 2005, KV had 1,071 students but in 1986, KV had 869 kids. Lowell had 1,004 teens in 1986 and 1,192 teenagers in 2005. I always thought that KV (and Lowell, for that matter) would grow larger than it has. The DeMotte-Wheatfield area and the Lowell area seem to an outsider to be two peas in a pod. Two very, very similar places.

WEATHER: A little warm for week six. High around 80 degrees Friday which puts the game time temperature around 70. We’re at the point where the sun sets right around 7 p.m. so the temperature drops quickly. But it will still be a little warm for the players. One note: Unless the long range forecast I’m looking at is all wrong, we get a significant weather change by week seven.


PARKING/TICKETS: Parking hasn’t been a problem in the Covid-19 days because the crowds just aren't as big. Friday at Lowell may change that because I hear as many Kougars fans as Lowell will be let in and are headed for Route 2.
I do not know the ticket ‘limitation’ situation. KV people should call the school. But I hear from my sources (a couple of moms) that interest in KV football is at a peak right now. The crowd should be as large as the ‘law’ allows and lively on another summer-like night.


THE SITUATION: Many of you know that Lowell had to cancel last week’s game when 15 kids had to be quarantined the day before the game due to Covid-19 virus issues. I don't know how many of those boys can play this Friday.

I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Since I didn’t attend that game, I didn’t immediately put two and two together when Red Devil junior Ryan Marx ran for five touchdowns from the halfback position two weeks ago against Wheeler. I said to myself, ‘Good for him!!!’ I didn’t bother to ask where was Joe Heuer who had scored five touchdowns from the halfback position against Portage two weeks earlier.

It's not just ‘we play’ or ‘we don’t play’ in 2020. It's how many players can we go without and still be competitive. Lowell has had players miss games all year due to Covid-19 situations. A major problem is: When you are quarantined, you also miss practices and you must get back to practice for a specified period of time before you can play.

What I’m saying is: I don't know how ‘at full strength’ Lowell will be Friday night, even after last week’s empty Friday.

2020 (4A) Kankakee Valley (5-0)
4-6 (2019), 2-8 (2018) 3-7 (2017) 3-8 (2016)
Coach James Broyles (2nd year) 11-14..North Central Conference (NCC) games in CAPS.
8-21 (W) 28-7 (2A) Rensselaer (2-3)
8-28 (W) 45-7 (2A) Wheeler (3-2)
9-4 (W) 42-7 at (3A) South Bend Washington (2-3)
9-11 (W) 44-8 at (2A) North Newton (1-4)
9-18 (W) 53-0 (5A) Munster (1-4)
9-25 at (4A) LOWELL (4-0)
10-2 vs. (4A) Hobart (4-1)
10-9 vs. (2A) ANDREAN (4-1)
10-16 at (4A) HIGHLAND (2-2)

4A Sectional 18
vs. New Prairie (3-2), Riley (2-3), Logansport (1-4), Clay (1-4), St. Joseph’s (2-3), Culver Military Academy (1-3) or Plymouth (0-5).


SECTIONAL CHANGES: The change here is that Plymouth, a power most years, hasn’t won a game and CMA has only won once. New Prairie has only lost to Marian (5-0) and Andrean (4-1).


KANKAKEE VALLEY - The Kougars, who returned 15 starters from last years’ 4-6 team, have rolled over all five opponents so far and they have been physically dominant. Middle linebacker Tyler Feddeler (6-0, 205) and Gage Stowers (5-9, 170) are the leading tacklers on a KV squad that has not trailed all season at any time.

Quarterback Eli Carden (6-3, 185) was 8-for-12 for 107 yards in the 28-7 win over arch rival Rensselaer, KV’s closest game so far. Carden, a running threat as well, threw for a career high five TDs last week in the 53-0 win over Munster. Junior running back Cade Capps carried 22 times for 130 yards and three TDs on that night.

Senior wide receiver and Kicker Markus Ritchie (6-0, 170) is in his third year on the varsity and he caught two TD passes last week and booted a 29-yard field goal

The Kougars also know that they led Lowell 14-0 at KV last year and were seemingly in total control of that game. Lowell ran off the final 21 points of the game and shocked KV in a 21-14 loss. There is no way the Kougars feel they should have lost that game and almost all those players will be on the field at Lowell Friday.

KV players also know that they have not played an ‘equal’ all year. While Rensselaer beat KV on a regular basis, Rensselaer is Class 2A. KV’s other opponents have been 2A North Newton, 2A Wheeler and 3A South Bend Washington. True, the Kougars did beat Class 5A Munster, but Munster has won three games in three years. I know KV is good, but I don't know how good and the Kougars might not know either.

KV has been ‘walking on sunshine’ for five weeks, but here comes the night. The Kougars play Class 4A No. 9 Lowell this week. Class 4A No. 4 Hobart next week and Class 2A No. 1 Andrean in two weeks.

The ‘second season’ starts for KV Friday night in Lowell.

2020 (4A) LOWELL (4-0)
7-5 (2019), 10-3 (2018), 14-1 (2017) 9-5 (2016)
Coach Keith Kilmer (11th year, 86-38) North Central Conference (NCC) games in CAPS
8-21 (W) 6-0 at (6A) Crown Point (3-2)
8-28 (W) 37-19 (6A) Portage (2-3)
9-4 (W) 6-13 (2A) Wheeler (3-2)
9-11 (W) 47-28 at (4A) GRIFFITH (1-2)
9-25 (4A) KANKAKEE VALLEY (5-0)
10-2 at (4A) HIGHLAND (2-2)
10-9 (5A) MUNSTER (1-4)
10-16 at (2A) ANDREAN (4-1)

Class 4A Sectional 17
vs. Gary West Side (1-4), Griffith (1-2), Highland (2-2), East Chicago (0-2) or Hobart (4-1), Morton (0-0), Gavit (0-0).


SECTIONAL CHANGES: Okay, remember when I said that Morton and Gavit weren’t playing this fall? Well, now they are. The Hammond school board is allowing contact sports. Morton and Gavit begin play next week and will get in three games (hopefully) before the post-season. Unless there is a Covid-19 problem, it seems certain that Lowell and Hobart will meet in the pivotal game of Class 4A Sectional 17.

LOWELL Update:


LOWELL – Lowell didn't play last week due to Covid-19 virus issues and, as I said, I don’t know how many of the Devils are available for play. I’m going to assume that KV won't run over Lowell at the line of scrimmage like they did for most of the game last season. But the Devils did give up good yards to Portage and QB Tylee Swopes. Lowell also gave up two kickoff return TDs against Griffith two weeks ago.

But stopping the other side is not as much of an issue if you can run the ball and kill the clock. I’m assuming that Lowell rushers Joe Heuer (78 carries, 418 yards, 6 TDs) and Ryan Marx (38 carries, 267 yards, 5 TDs) will both be available this Friday and I believe that a week off at mid season helps your offensive linemen more than any other position on the field.

Lowell’s Reec Ison (16 tackles, 3 interceptions) will probably see time against KV wide receiver Markus Richie. Linebackers Spencer Barta (25 tackles, 2 forced fumbles) Kyler Newcom (18 tackles, 3 pass breakups) and Riley Bank (3 1/2 sacks, fumble, interception) will take on a KV offensive line that has not yet met its match.

The one thing I can't say is how the Lowell team reacts to preparing (up to last Thursday) to play Hobart and then not being able to. The Devils have not had a mid-season bye week in all my time watching them - and I’m old.

It can go both ways.



At Lowell's Stadium 'The Inferno': Capacity 2,500

Sagarin computer ratings: 
Lowell by 1.

Anything less than three points is considered an even game so this is almost as even as you can get. The difference in schedule (KV has not played any Class 6A teams while Lowell has defeated Crown Point and Portage) is offset by the margin of victory against Wheeler. Lowell won by 13 while KV won by 38. The computer is basically saying “I don’t know’ about the Lowell-KV game.


LOWELL (09-25-2020) If Lowell is at or near full strength, this will be a high-scoring battle. It's hard to be specific on this game because there’s some unusual variables. But I think the Kougars can get some balanced offense ... maybe 150 yards running and passing.

The Devils will run for 150-200 yards, but kicking and special teams favor the Kougars.

Lowell had a week off, but the Kougars have not had to go hard for four quarters all year. I don't think the Devils can wear them down. And the special teams edge goes to the Kougars.

Kankakee Valley gets to take that Old Milk Can home for the first time in six years.

Kankakee Valley 31, LOWELL 21

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Revised: September 24, 2020 .