Week 8 - Football Game of the Week Preview

Andrean 59ers (4-3)
at Lowell Red Devils (5-2)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


Because the Highland at Lowell game was moved to Highland two weeks ago, Lowell has just three regular season home games this fall. The band plays for the final time this Friday against Andrean at 7 p.m. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  7:00 p.m., CST on Friday, October 11, 2019

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


TV/Radio/Internet:  All Lowell games can be seen on the Regional Radio Sports web-site, https://rrsn.com/.


ENROLLMENT: Andrean - 389; LOWELL – 1,128. In 1995, the IHSAA had Andrean with 826 students.

WEATHER: The weather has been beautiful all week. But it won't be Friday. Most forecasts call for light rain most of the day. Temperatures will drop into the upper 40s by game time and winds will be out of the north at 15-20 miles-an-hour. The only good news is that the rain is supposed to stop by the second half. We can call it ‘chilly’. We can call it ‘brisk’. But the real word is: cold!


PARKING: You do not have to worry about a massive parking jam up this Friday at Lowell. This should be a very good game, but the 59ers usually do not bring a lot of fans to Lowell and only the ‘true believers’ are going to show up for this one. Lowell fans usually show up at home no mater what Mother Nature brings to the table.


WHAT's AT STAKE: This is a deciding game in the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) season. Lowell (5-2, 3-0 NCC) is tied with Hobart (5-2, 3-0) for first place with two weeks to go. But it's complicated.

Andrean (4-3, 2-1 NCC) is in third place. If Andrean defeats Lowell Friday and wins at Highland on Oct. 18, the 59ers tie for the NCC title if Hobart loses next week at Lowell.

If Lowell defeats Andrean and Hobart defeats Munster (0-7, 0-3 NCC) this Friday, then next week’s game: Lowell at Hobart is for the undisputed league championship.

The fun part (maybe fun isn't the right word) is that the IHSAA announces the state tournament pairings this Sunday. Hobart and Lowell are both in Class 4A Sectional 17 and could draw each other in the sectional quarterfinals on Oct. 25.


THE HISTORY: Andrean has 17 sectional, eight regional and two state (2004 and 2013) titles and now, due to severely declining enrollment, they will be in Class 2A when the playoffs start. The change in playoff route makes the 59ers the most interesting team going into the post-season. Boone Grove is rated 7th in Class 2A but the Wolves wouldn't even consider playing the schedule Andrean does.

The defending Class 2A state champion is Pioneer high school located in the wonderfully rural Royal Center, Indiana. But Pioneer plays five Class 1A schools, mainly because they used to be a 1A school. Andrean plays in a Class 4A league and the 59ers, to my knowledge, have never played a 1A school since class sports was installed in 1973.

My point is: Pioneer isn't going to beat Andrean. It's not a fair fight.

Andrean’s enrollment has slipped dramatically in the last two decades. They are not only a 2A school. They are a small 2A. Boone has 542 students.

In 1986, Andrean had 1,083 students. They’ve lost 2/3 of their enrollment in the last 30 years and, in my opinion, unless they move south, they won't see that enrollment rise anytime soon. But for the time being, it works for them in sports. Andrean won the Class 2A state basketball championship last winter. The 59ers are a mismatch for Class 2A public schools.

The future may not be clear for Andrean overall, but it's very bright for the school’s athletic teams.

The 'Distant Replay'...

Lowell stuns 59ers 31-3



Team 1 2 3 4 F
Andrean (6-3) 3 0 0 0 3
LOWELL (8-1) 0 10 14 7 31

Friday, October 12, 2007,  49 degrees, dry - Northwest Crossroads Conference finale at LOWELL, IN

1st Qtr ANDREAN (3-0) Cameron Panther, 37-yard field goal.  56-yard drive, 9 plays.  5:34 left.
2nd Qtr:  LOWELL (7-3) TJ Lukasik, 48-yard punt return.  Davd Lang kick.  6:11 left.
LOWELL (10-3) David Lang, 39-yard field goal.  62-yard drive, 8 plays.  3:05 left.
3rd Qtr:  LOWELL (17-3) Steffan Peck, 3-yard run.  45-yard drive, 7 plays.  David Lang kick.  6:48 left.
LOWELL (24-3) Brandon Grubbe, 5-yard run.  17-yard drive, 4 plays after a 31-yard punt return by TJ Lukasik.  David Lang kick.
4th Qtr:  LOWELL (31-3) Brandon Grubbe, 28-yard run.  75-yard drive, 7 plays.  David Lang kick.  8:27 left.


ANDREAN (33 carries, 89 yards)
Kyle Kovach (HB) 18-68 yards; David Barndt (FB) 4-8 yards;
Austin Sutter (QB) 9-13 yards (4 sacks, -19); John Kennedy (WR) 1-1; Demetri Blanco (WR) 1 (-1).

LOWELL (38 carries, 260 yards)  Brandon Grubbe (HB) 19-148 yards, 2 TDs; Steffan Peck FB) 10-46 yards, TD; Kurt Monix (QB) 2-26 yards;
James Zelenka (HB) 4-27 yards; Andrew Eldred (FB) 2-10 yards; Ray Skamay (QB) 1-4 yards.

ANDREAN:  Austin Sutter (QB) 6-17, 58 yards 2 interceptions
LOWELL:  Kurt Monix (QB) 4-10, 51 yards, 0 interceptions.

ANDREAN:  John Kennedy (WR) 2-24 yards, Jon Bronisz (WR) 3-30 yards; David Brandt (FB) 1-4 yards;
  Jeff Barker (TE) 1-11 yards; Danny Remboski (WR) 2-30 yards; Eric Roadruck (WR) 1-10 yards.

  146 yards, 10 first downs, 2 turnovers.
LOWELL:  311 yards, 14 first downs, 0 turnovers.

LOWELL (10-12-2007) - Twelve years ago, Lowell and Andrean were at the peak of their powers. Andrean had won the 2004 Class 3A state championship. Lowell had won the 2005 Class 4A state crown. On this night, the 59ers had won three in a row and were coming off an overtime win over Griffith. Lowell was 7-1 with the only defeat being an overtime loss to Griffith.

Andrean led 3-0 when TJ Lukasik made the big play, a 48-yard punt return to give the Devils a 7-3 lead. It was all Lowell in the second half as future all-stater Brandon Grubbe ran 19 times for 148 yards.

This game signaled that Lowell was better than they’d shown. The 2007 schedule wasn't as tough as the 2019 schedule is and Lowell was supposed to struggle with the 59ers. Andrean went on to win the Class 3A Sectional 17 championship in 2007 and Griffith, by the way, was 9-4 and the Class 4A Sectional 17 champ in 2007.

Lowell? This was one of the Devils' greatest teams. Lowell became road warriors, defeating Plymouth, Concord and Griffith on the road to win sectional and regional trophies.

In a memorable semistate game in Lowell, the 2007 Red Devils edged Bishop Dwenger 10-7. Lowell did lose 33-14 to Evansville Reitz in the state title game, but the three consecutive road playoff wins set this team apart from all others.

And it didn't look like the Devils were capable of doing great things until a cold night at home against Andrean.

(2A) Andrean (4-3)
10-2 (2018), 8-4 (2017), 5-6 (2016), 7-4 (2015)
Coach Chris Skinner (4 years, 27-15) NCC Conference games in CAPS

8-23 (L) 20-48 at (6A) Merrillville (6-1)
8-30 (W) 44-23 (3A) Hanover Central (4-3)
9-6 (L) 10-33 at (4A) New Prairie (7-0)
9-13 (W) 42-0 (3A) Hammond (0-6)
9-20 (L) 3-30 (4A) HOBART (5-2)
9-28 (W) 49-6 (5A) MUNSTER (0-7)
10-4 (W) 30-13 (4A) KANKAKEE VALLEY (2-5)
10-11 (Fri.) at (4A) LOWELL (5-2)
10-18 (Fri) at (4A) HIGHLAND (3-4)

Class 2A Sectional 33
10-25 (Fri) Bowman Academy, Bishop Noll, Whiting, Wheeler, North Newton, Boone Grove and Rensselaer.



It's difficult to tell how good Andrean is. The 59ers have lost decisively to all three ranked teams they’ve faced, but Andrean has won the four games they should have won, again, all by big scores.

The No. 1 focus of any defense against the 59ers is 1,000-yard rusher Ryan Walsh, who has scored 14 touchdowns. There’s no doubt that Walsh (5-10, 170) and the Andrean offensive line will be looking to lay the smack down on the Devils after the junior halfback carried 17 times for 148 yards last week in the win over Kankakee Valley. Against Hanover Central on August 30, Walsh carried 19 times for 302 yards and five TDs. He has scored 90 points in seven games.

The 59ers took a big loss when all-state receiver Nick Flesher was knocked out for the season in the second game. That’s limited what senior QB Noah Hamilton (6-3, 180) can do. Hamilton is 43 of 77 for 639 yards and nine TDs. He is not a runner, so the 59ers' offense is somewhat predictable. Cam Thornton (6-0, 170) leads the 59ers in receptions with 17 catches for 189 yards and three TDs.

Three-year starter Adam Warren (6-2, 270) leads the offensive line and they run behind number 60 frequently.

Defensively Walsh is also a starting outside linebacker and he has 13 tackles for losses in seven weeks. Linebacker Adam Nieman (5-10, 190) has 43 tackles. Warren is also a defensive end. The 59ers have some depth problems and they can't replace Flesher (79 catches, 952 yards, 12 TDs last season) but they have some starters who would play for anybody. One is place kicker and punter J.J. Wadas (5-9, 175) who was a junior all-state player in 2018.

This is not an especially big Andrean team and their biggest offensive weapon has been sidelined. But it comes down to Ryan Walsh and the offensive line, led by Warren. Walsh has power and balance to post 1000 yards against a strong schedule. If Lowell can't tackle Walsh, he’ll get 200 yards and a happy bus ride home. That’s no secret.

2019 (4A) LOWELL (5-2)
10-3 (2018), 14-1 (2017), 9-5 (2016), 12-1 (2015)
Coach Keith Kilmer (8 years, 79-34) NCC Conference games in CAPS

8-23 (W) 21-19 vs. (6A) Crown Point (4-3)
8-30 (L) 9-35 at (6A) Portage (1-6)
9-6 (L) 23-35 at (4A) Morton (6-1)
9-13 (W) 42-28 (4A) Griffith (0-7)
9-20 (W) 21-14 (4A) at KANKAKEE VALLEY (2-5)
9-27 (W) 24-7 (4A) HIGHLAND (3-4)
10-4 (W) 48-13 at (5A) MUNSTER (0-7)
10-11 (Fri.) vs. (3A) ANDREAN (4-3)
10-18 (Fri) at (4A) HOBART (5-2)

Class 4A Sectional 17
10-25 (Fri) quarterfinal vs. Griffith, East Chicago, Gavit, Morton, Highland, Gary West Side and Hobart.


LOWELL Update:

Lowell knows that the hour of decision is here. The Devils have posted three nice road wins in a row over Kankakee Valley, Highland and Munster. But they haven't played well enough to beat the two teams that now confront them, first the 59ers.

The Devils have found their run game in the last two weeks. Senior Jeff Wallis (5-10, 174) carried 17 times for 105 yards in the win over Highland on September 28. Last week, junior Jacob Chandler (5-8, 145) picked up 111 yards on 17 carries.

Teams are going to stop kicking the ball to sophomore Joseph Heuer (5-6, 175), who has returned kicks for touchdowns in each of the last two games. Lowell has four kick return TDs this fall.

The Devils' soft spot all season has been pass defense where they’ve allowed 1,341 yards in seven games. Sophomore linebacker Spencer Barta (6-1, 185) grabbed two of Lowell’s four interceptions last week. I don't know the availability of junior Adam Bank (5-8, 160) who played well in the secondary early in the year but has since missed three games.

Sophomore Ryan Marx (5-7, 155), who has been injured most of the season, returned last week and scored a third quarter touchdown. Lowell has just 12 seniors and often plays four or five sophomores on defense. They need everybody against a battle tested team like Andrean.

2A ANDREAN (4-3) at 4A LOWELL (5-2)

The Inferno (Lowell Stadium): Capacity 2,500


SAGARIN RATINGS: Andrean by 4.

This rating is about strength of schedule. Lowell has faced Griffith (0-7) and Munster (0-7), who have seen better days and the Devils have lost to Portage (1-6). Andrean’s losses are to New Prairie (7-0), Merrillville (6-1) and Hobart (5-2). Merrillville and New Prairie are probably better than CP (4-3) and Morton (6-1) the best teams Lowell has seen. For the record, Lowell, on the computer, was rated 33 points better than Munster last week and they won 48-13. 




LOWELL (10-11-2019) This should be a very basic game. By basic, I mean lots of slipping and sliding on a wet field with few TDs. I’m guessing something like a 6-3 score at halftime. Maybe 9-6. Both teams have top field goal kickers.

Ryan Walsh is good for one long 59er TD run and about 125 yards rushing. But the Devils' Jacob Chandler and Jeff Wallis will both reach the end zone. Both teams will fumble twice in the sloppy conditions.

Andrean won this game decisively 36-15 last season, but Lowell’s weakness is pass defense and the 59ers don't appear to have the outside speed players that Morton does.
There’s no clear cut ‘better’ team here. I like the Devils at home, maybe on a last second field goal.




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Revised: October 10, 2019 .