Week 8 - Football Game of the Week Preview

Andrean 59ers (5-2)
at Lowell Red Devils (7-0)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


Andrean takes on the top-ranked Rd Devils in Lowell Friday night at 7 p.m. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  7:00 p.m., CST on Friday, October 6, 2017

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


TV/Radio/Internet:  WTMK (88.5) FM live, live updates of all local scores all night on "The LakeShore," WLPR (89.1) FM.


ENROLLMENT: Andrean 510; Lowell 1,210

It's going to rain. It may rain all day. It may rain most of the day. But it's going to rain and the field is going to be muddy. The temperatures will be in the low 60s. Very pleasant. But there is no chance it won't rain Friday and there's little chance it won't rain during the game. There's going to be some serious uniform washing Saturday morning.


PARKING: There would have been a good crowd if the weather had been dry but, in the rain, I don't know how many Andrean people are coming south down to Lowell. I think Lowell folks can get a parking spot close to the field and sit in the car until the game is about to start. Why? Because it's going to rain.

WHAT's AT STAKE: Is there a lot riding on this game? Yes and no. Lowell is in Class 4A Sectional 17 and Anderan is in Class 3A Sectional 25. They cannot meet in the upcoming state tournament. Andrean (5-2, 2-1 NCC) can still earn an undisputed league title if they defeat Lowell and Highland in their final game while Hobart (6-1, 3-0) and Lowell (7-0, 3-0) tie in the final game of the regular season on October 13. Andrean also wins the league title if space aliens convince Lowell and Hobart not to play on Oct. 13 and take a field trip to Jupiter. Seriously, I don't think Lowell or Andrean base much (or any) of their season goals on the league championship. Lowell has won 13 sectional championships and Andrean has won 17. Who wins the NCC is not what either side will recall from the 2017 season. But Lowell and Andrean do want to find out how good they actually are heading into the state playoffs. Lowell has won every game by 14 points or more and Andrean isn't coming all this way to get stomped on. Lowell boys know that Andrean averages 34 points a game and they surely want to see if they can shut down an offense like that. Both sides should be highly motivated.


THE HISTORY: Andrean isn't one of Lowell's traditional rivals. The school opened in the late 50s and they were never conference rivals of Andrean until the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) began in 2007.

Andrean began to play Lowell regularly in the 1998 season and the Devils have a 12-7 lead since that time. But they did meet in the 70s and early 90s. Lowell and Andrean opened the season in 1977 and 1978 and Andrean shut the Devils out 32-0 and 35-0. That 'series' ended probably because Lowell wasn't any good back then and there was no reason for Andrean to come from 59th and Broadway to Route 2 to face a team they were that superior to.

The 59ers defeated Lowell 41-0 in 1990, but Lowell's first win came in coach Kirk Kennedy's second season, a 23-21 victory on October 30, 1992.

The overall series is led by Lowell 13-10 with Lowell winning 35-21 at Andrean in 2016 and 14-6 in Lowell in 2015. Andrean last beat the Devils 26-14 on the final day of the 2014 regular season. You'll notice that Andrean's enrollment is listed by the IHSAA at 510. In 2003, Andrean had 700 students. In 1987, Andrean had almost 1,100 students. That's why they are thinking about moving south, as you may have read in the local newspapers. Andrean owns land at 93rd and Broadway which, I believe, is still in Merrillville, not that they are under any obligation to stay in town.

My opinion. Andrean is moving for two reasons. The present building has simply outlived its life expectancy. They have to have a new school soon even if they stay on Broadway. Also, the population has simply moved south in the last half century.

There are a lot of people who live along 93rd Ave north and south. Schools are neighborhood things. They have to be in an area where people can walk to them. And where there are people and not fast food shops and stores. 59th and Broadway is more a commercial area than anything else.

Crown Point has over 2,800 students and the school seems to be growing. A 93rd and Broadway Andrean might lose some kids from the Lake Central school district, but if they only have 510 kids, they weren't getting a lot of those children anyway.

More Crown Point families would consider Andrean if it were at 93rd Avenue and a lot more south Lake County kids would go there if the school was new and modern.

5-6 (2016), 7-4 (2015), 14-1 (2014), 15-0 (2013)
Coach Chris Skinner (2nd season, 10-8)
Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) games in CAPS.

8-18 (W) 42-13 at Merrillville (1-6)
8-25 (W) 58-21 at Bishop Noll (0-7)
9-1 (L) 3-42 New Prairie (6-1)
9-8 (W) 52-14 at Hammond (3-4)
9-15 (L) 10-13 (OT) HOBART (6-1)
9-22 (W) 34-0 MUNSTER (2-5)
9-29 (W) 42-7 KANKAKEE VALLEY (3-4)
10-6 (F) at LOWELL (7-0)
10-13 (F) at HIGHLAND (2-5)

Class 4A Sectional 25
10-20 (F) HANOVER CENTRAL (4-3)
10-27 (F) vs. Wheeler (4-3) or at Clark (1-6)

SCHEDULE: It's a little uneven. I don't think the 59ers want to play Bishop Noll, but they probably don't have a choice. I'm guessing the 59ers don't want to play Hammond high either. It's not a competitive game. But New Prairie is always a strong opponent and Merrillville usually is. The 59ers play a 4A and 5A league schedule and then go into the 3A playoffs. That's a pretty good situation for them. Andrean got a great draw. They get a Hanover team that has played in the small school Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC) all year and then they most likely get GSSC member Wheeler. Andrean figures to play West Lafayette (6-1) for the sectional 25 title.


This is the best offensive team that Lowell will see during the regular season. The 59ers 42-3 loss to New Prairie is very misleading. There was a fight in the Andrean-Bishop Noll game and as many as five 59ers were reportedly suspended for one game, the new Prairie game. With all due respect to New Prairie, Andrean doesn't lose to them 42-3 if the 59ers were at full strength.

The 59ers have passed for 827 yards and run for 1,349. The top rusher is Teely Rhyne (6-2, 190), a tall tailback who gained 1,200 yards and 11 TDs on 215 carries last season. This fall, in seven games, Rhyne has run 124 times for 752 yards and 12 TDs behind a rebuilt offensive line.

The quarterback is junior Zack Merrill (6-1, 190), who is 70 of 120 passing for 881 yards, 12 TDs and three interceptions. He's very good on the move and he has run 65 times for 267 yards. The 59ers use the same one back-four wide receiver attack they used last year. Merrill does a 'read (one back) option' with Rhyne on most plays and then runs it or throws it. They spread the defense and use their quickness to move the ball.

Andrean has a freshman running back named Ryan Walsh (5-10, 170) who has 158 yards on 12 carries. Obviously they slip him in to spring him on the defense. Another freshman, Nick Flesher (5-9, 165) has 187 yards on 16 receptions. Junior Tyler Thomas (5-11, 157) has 179 yards on 11 catches. Mike Mantel (5-11, 180) has 136 yards on 11 receptions and Rhyne has 97 yards on 10 receptions.

You get the message. The Niners flip the ball around and the defense better be ready for anything. Andrean has a play that few teams use where the QB fakes to the tailback, starts to run off tackle and then throws a little 'pop pass' to the wide receiver when the opposition defensive backs close in on him. It's hard to stop when they execute it correctly.

The Niners are a young team led in the offensive line by Ben Urchell (6-0, 205) and Joey Pollitt (6-1, 220). Sophomore Adam Warren (6-2, 245) starts at guard on a line that looks fairly mobile.
The Niners return seven starters from last year's defense, including linebackers Nick Schutkovske (5-11, 185), who has 47 tackles and Cameron Williams (6-2, 205), who has 43 stops. River Walsh (6-0, 215), another linebacker, has 43 stops. Defensive end Evan Satoski (6-2, 240) and Kenard Jarrett (6-0, 180) are also solid on a defense which held Hobart to a season-low 13 points.

Sophomore JJ Wadas is 30 of 32 on extra points and 4-of-7 on field goals. This is going to be a very good team, especially on offense. The question is: How good will they be Friday night?

LOWELL (7-0)
9-5 (2016), 12-1 (2015), 8-5 (2014), 6-4(2013)
Coach Keith Kilmer (8th season, 58-29)
Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) games in CAPS

8-18 (W) 27-13 (6A) Crown Point (4-3)
8-25 (W) 20-7 at (6A) Portage (4-3)
9-1 (W) 19-0 at (4A) Morton (5-2)
9-8 (W) 63-6 (3A) Clark (0-7)
9-15 (W) 27-13 at (4A) KANKAKEE VALLEY (2-1)
9-22 (W) 27-0 (4A) HIGHLAND (1-2)
9-29 (W) 28-9 at (5A) MUNSTER (1-2)
10-6 (F) 3A ANDREAN (5-2)
10-13 (F) at 4A HOBART (6-1)

Class 4A Sectional 17
10-20 (F) vs. Gary West Side (1-6)
10-27 (F) at Highland (2-5) or Gavit (2-5)

SCHEDULE: Lowell's schedule peaks in the final two weeks with Andrean (5-2) and Hobart (6-1). Then they get an undermanned Gary West Side team in the sectional 17 quarterfinals and either Highland or Gavit in the semifinals. Griffith (6-1) waits in the other half of the Sectional 17 bracket for what would be a very interesting sectional championship game. From a distance, it looks like Lowell would host Griffith in one possible sectional championship game on November 3.

LOWELL Update:

Lowell is still a work-in-progress on offense. They've made a concerted effort to diversify the offense and get the ball outside to an unusually deep wide receiver group. On paper, they are more difficult to defend with junior QB Ethan Igras (31 of 63, 563 yards) also running 52 times for 327 yards. Lowell has 16 rushing TDs and nine passing touchdowns, four to Jaeger Gill (9 catches, 272 yards) and three to tight end Mitch Wildman (9 catches, 178 yards).

Junior halfback Tyler Wildman has 379 yards on 81 carries and this Lowell team does average 4.5 yards per carry. But the Devils also have 14 turnovers in seven games and that's too many, even with a top defense.

The Devils' defense has allowed 1,011 total yards in seven games. A traditionally slow starting team, Lowell has not been scored upon in the first quarter all season and the Devils have not trailed at any time this year.

Safety Logan Charters leads the defense with 48 tackles and Blake Jansky has seven QB sacks. Safety Jordan Jusevitch has four pass interceptions and cornerback Jaeger Gill has two more. Lowell has four kick return TDs and two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

What makes Friday's game so interesting is that Andrean's offense wants to spread the defense out and challenge their speed and coverage ability. Lowell is built to take on exactly that challenge.

3A No. 15 ANDREAN (5-2) at 4A No. 1 LOWELL (7-0)
The Inferno (Lowell Stadium): Capacity 2,500



This is very misleading. The spread comes from the 42-3 Andean loss to New Prairie, a game in which some key 59ers did not play. That is obviously not taken to account by the computer. Lowell, which has won every game by two touchdowns, is obviously favored here, but six or seven points is probably more accurate. 




LOWELL (10-06-2017) Weather forecasts change, but it is supposed to rain most of the day Friday and that will slow both sides. Andrean will get to an early lead on a TD run by halfback Teely Rhyne, but the Devils will rally after a 59er fumble, scoring on run by Ethan Igras.


Lowell gets a special teams TD on a run back by Jordan Jusevitch and Lowell goes ahead 21-7 at the half on a TD run from Tyler Wildman.


The 59ers quarterback Zack Merrill rallies his side with a long run, setting up a field goal by JJ Wadas. A Red Devil fumble gives the 59ers good field position, but the defense holds again and a second Wadas field goal cuts the lead to 21-13.

Mitch Wildman grabs a pass from Igras to up the lead to 28-13, but a screen pass to Ryhne and a long run closes the gap to 28-20. A Lowell turnover gives the 59ers a fourth quarter chance to tie, but they settle for another field goal by Wadas.

Andrean's last possession ends on an interception by Jaeger Gill.

This game figures to be high-scoring and turnover prone. But Lowell's defense will turn back the 59ers often enough to win a close game.




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Revised: October 05, 2017 .