Week 8 -  Football Game of the Week Preview

Munster (1-6) at Lowell (6-0)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

10-07-2020
 

Future Devils get one more warm weather regular season chance to check out their team Friday night when Munster takes the long ride south to Lowell. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When: 7:00 p.m., CDT on Friday, October 9, 2020
Where: Lowell High School, 3 miles west of I-65 on US Route 2.
Tickets: $6
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:
Munster – 1,561; LOWELL – 1,107.

Lowell’s enrollment hasn’t changed that much in the last generation. In 2002, Lowell high school had 1,085 students, virtually what they have today. In 2002, Munster had 1,312 kids.
 

Weather:  Seems like every October, we have one night of ‘Indian summer’. One warm, breezy evening which almost signals the end of warm weather. That night appears to be this Friday. Daytime temperatures in the mid-70s and a 70-degree kickoff number, almost certainly the final no-coat-needed night of the 2020 season. If you like going to the games, this final home game of the regular season is a very good choice.

 

Parking/Tickets: Almost nobody other than next-of-kin is coming to Lowell from Munster Friday night. It's been a hard ride down a dusty road for the Mustangs the last three years and they have not been close in many games. Lowell folks will have comfortable ‘crowd conditions’ for this game.

 

THE SITUATION: By now you know that Lowell has had to forfeit their first five wins due to an ineligible player. Lowell is officially 1-5 according to the IHSAA, although the real Red Devil on-the-field record is 6-0.

I don’t think this will affect the boys the rest of the way. Just between you and me, Lowell has always cared much more about sectional play than they have about conference championships.

On October 23, Lowell will begin the quest for their 16th sectional title in their last 30 years (and sixth in seven years) and if they get it, the boys will not care what their won-loss record is. I don't think the forfeits will slow down Lowell at all.



2020 (5A) Munster (1-6)
0-10 (2019), 2-8 (2018) 4-6 (2017) 6-6 (2016)
Coach Jason Grunewald (3rd year) 3-24; Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) games in CAPS.

8-21 (L) 0-38 at (6A) Lake Central (1-6)
8-28 (L) 16-49 at (3A) Hanover Central (5-2)
9-4 (W) 28-20 at (4A) South Bend Clay (1-6)
9-11 (L) 0-38 at (2A) Rensselaer (4-3)
9-18 (L) 0-53 (4A) at KANKAKEE VALLEY (5-2)
9-25 (L) 3-20 (4A) HIGHLAND (3-3)
10-2 (L) 3-44 (4A) ANDREAN (6-1)

10-9 vs. (4A) at LOWELL (6-0)
10-16 (4A) HOBART (4-2)

5A Sectional 9
vs. LaPorte (2-5), Michigan City (4-1) and Valparaiso (3-0)

 

SECTIONAL CHANGES: Even with all the cancellations that Valparaiso has had, Munster does not want any part of a sectional semifinal with the Vikings. Munster hopes for a game with LaPorte. If they could win that one playoff game, the season could be considered a success.

MUNSTER Update:
 

MUNSTER - The Mustangs don't have any passing touchdowns this season, but they did run the ball 48 times for 150 yards in a 20-3 loss to Highland two weeks ago. Against Highland two weeks ago, Munster used senior defensive back Cameron Perry at quarterback running a double-wing formation designed to keep the clock running. The Mustangs trailed Highland 6-3 in the fourth quarter before the Trojans added two TDs. Munster runs the ball at least 90% of the time, but they do have a freshman QB who is more of a passer. I don’t think they start him on the road at Lowell, but he (Bryce Gelarden) figures to get in at some point.

Kickler Aleks Maric booted a 32-yard field goal against Highland and added a 30-yarder last week in the loss to Andrean. Maric is 6-of-6 on extra points this season but, yes, Munster has only scored six touchdowns this fall.

 

Perry runs back kickoffs and kick return defense has been a Lowell weakness at times this fall. From scrimmage, however, the Mustangs have been held under 100 total yards four times in seven games.

There is no secret flaw here. Munster doesn't have the players, especially in the lines. Mustang skill position players are not bad. But they were 0-10 last year and reportedly have 25-30 boys on the 2020 roster. Munster just can't substitute much. It's hard to compete with that few players. But Munster, with as many as six players going both ways, played hard in the Highland game and kept it close.


2020 (4A) LOWELL (6-0)
7-5 (2019), 10-3 (2018), 14-1 (2017) 9-5 (2016)
Coach Keith Kilmer (11th year, 88-38) Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) games in CAPS
8-21 (W) 6-0 at (6A) Crown Point (3-3)
8-28 (W) 37-19 (6A) Portage (2-5)
9-4 (W) 6-13 (2A) Wheeler (4-3)
9-11 (W) 47-28 at (4A) Griffith (3-2)
9-25 (W) 28-21 (4A) KANKAKEE VALLEY (5-2)
10-2 (W) 27-7 at (4A) HIGHLAND (3-3)

10-9 (5A) MUNSTER (1-6)
10-16 at (2A) ANDREAN (6-1)

Class 4A Sectional 17

vs. Gary West Side (2-4), Griffith (3-2), Highland (3-3), East Chicago (0-4) or Hobart (4-2), Morton (1-0), Gavit (1-0)

 

SECTIONAL CHANGES: Griffith has been on the rise lately, but Hobart and Lowell seem headed for a showdown in 4A Sectional 17. Obviously, no one gets a bye here so teams are going to have to be careful about Covid-19 issues. If Lowell and Hobart can’t meet until the November 6 sectional title game, a pre-game key will be who is available for duty on both squads on that night.

LOWELL Update:

 

LOWELL – Lowell piled up 18 first downs in a 27-7 win at Highland last week. I thought the offensive line of Adam Maleve (5-11, 226), Mark Stolte (6-0, 225), center Thomas Browne (5-11, 180), Jake Lax (5-10, 191) and Spencer Barta (6-3, 210) or Ethan Difiore (5-11, 217) controlled this game.

Halfback Joe Heuer carried 24 times for 197 yards while QB Cameron Stojancevich was a season-best 9-of-13 for 108 yards and two TDs. Lowell dominated time-of-possession 31:06 to 16:54 and that goes back to the play of the O-line and tight end Caleb Miranda (6-2, 216).

The linemen I have listed here are probably not the regular Lowell O-line. The Devils have been short players all season due to Covid-19 situations. I think Lowell would rather not play Barta, their leading tackler as a linebacker, on the offensive line. But last week’s line was very effective. Junior defensive lineman Ray Ambossi (5-7, 205) proved tough to block last week, sacking the quarterback three times. Senior wide receiver Michael Havel-Ericks (6-3, 176) had his best game of the season, catching three passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns.

If the Devils can get all their players on the field (Lowell was without as many as 10 starters for the KV game) Friday, they will be in good shape for the final two games.


 
MUNSTER (1-6) at LOWELL (6-0)


Lowell stadium 'The Inferno': capacity 2,500

 

SAGARIN RATINGS: LOWELL by 44.

I doubt Lowell will win by 44 points, but the Devils are a prohibitive favorite here because the Mustangs have lost to two teams (Highland, KV) that Lowell has beaten. Lowell has defeated two Class 6A schools. You get the picture. For the record, Lowell was a 37-point favorite over Highland last week and they won 27-7.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN:


LOWELL (10-09-2020) Usually this type of game is a chance for backups to get some playing time, but many backup players for Lowell have been playing some already. Often times week eight or week nine game like this is a chance for boys who have been going hard every Friday to get some time off. But Lowell didn’t play in week six. Nobody’s all that tired.

I believe that, even though Munster’s defensive strength seems to be in the secondary, Lowell will continue to work on the passing game. But Munster’s defensive front has not held up for four quarters this year.

Look for Lowell to get 250 yards rushing and a TD pass from QB Cam Stojancevich. The Devils want to show respect for Munster and the way to do that is play hard from the start. The question isn't whether Munster will win. It's whether or not they will score.

LOWELL 35, Munster 0

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Revised: October 07, 2020 .