Week 10 - Football Game of the Week Preview

Gary West Side (2-6) at Lowell (5-4)
Class 4A, Sectional 17 Quarterfinal

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

10-24-2019

Red Devil Pride (RDP) has taken a beating the last two weeks. Lowell wants to turn it around Friday night in the 4A Sectional 17 quarterfinals against Gary West Side. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  7:00 p.m. Friday, October 25, 2019
Where:
 
Lowell High School,Route 2 (Commercial Ave.) & Holtz Road, Lowell, IN (3 miles east of I-65 on Route 2).
Tickets:  $
6
Radio-TV:  All Lowell games can be seen on the Regional Radio Sports web-site
at https://rrsn.com/.

Enrollment:
1,108; LOWELL – 1,128.

NOTE: Two years ago, West Side had 889 students, according to the IHSAA. The increase in enrollment has to do with other schools in Gary that have closed.

Weather:
Breaking news: It will be cold. Much like two weeks ago for the Lowell-Andrean game. Just without the rain. High temperature for Friday will be only 50 degrees and it will drop off quickly after dark. The good news is that while game-time temperatures will be in the low-40s, there will be almost no wind. So we wont freeze too much. But we’ve reached the point in the season where you must wrap up to come to the football game. A jacket is not enough. This is a good night for the full-body Halloween costumes. With some of those heat packs in the pockets. By the way, don't look at next week’s weather forecast.

Parking:  This is not going to be an issue because only a couple dozen fans are coming south from Gary for this one.
Lowell fans should be able to get their cars as close to the field as possible and hang out in their car until just before game time. Did I say it was going to be cold?

WHAT'S AT STAKE:  

GARY: Gary West Side has always been a basketball school. The Cougar boys are 11-time sectional champs and the 2002 state champs. The Cougar girls are 16-time sectional champs and the 2005 state Class 4A finalist.

No Gary school has won a sectional football title since 1989 and West Side has never won a sectional since the IHSAA began the state playoffs in 1973.

But with an increase in enrollment, the Cougars program reportedly had more numbers this fall. The down side is that West Side remains a Class 4A school which puts them in serious competition with perennial powers like Morton, Hobart and Lowell.

Gary Roosevelt is a Class 1A school now with just 347 students. Charter schools Bowman Academy (345 teens) and 21st Century (276 students) are also very small. West Side is the main school in the city and they need a new building like the one that is being built for Hammond high. Without that, I’m not sure of the future of Gary West Side.


Class 4A Northern Bracket

SECTIONAL 17
Griffith [2-6] at Gavit [3-6]
Gary West [2-6] at LOWELL [5-4]
Highland [3-6] at East Chicago [6-3]
Hobart [7-2] at Morton [8-1]

SECTIONAL 18
No. 4 New Prairie [8-1] at (So. Bend) Riley [5-4]
(So. Bend) Clay [1-8] at Culver Academy [5-4]
Logansport[2-7] at (So. Bend) St. Joseph [1-8]
Kankakee Valley [4-5] at Plymouth [7-2]

SECTIONAL 19
No. 1 East Noble [9-0] at Northridge [4-5]
Columbia City [5-4] at DeKalb [7-2]
Wawasee [2-7] at NorthWood [6-3]
Angola [4-5] at No. 10 Leo [8-1]

SECTIONAL 20

Huntington North [2-7] at (Fort Wayne) South [1-8]
Delta [7-2] at No. 5 Mississinewa [8-1]
New Haven [4-5] at Jay County [1-8]
(Fort Wayne) Wayne [0-9] at No. 7 Marion [7-2]

4A OUTLOOK: Nobody got a better draw than Lowell in Sectional 17 unless it was Marion in Sectional 20. Marion is looking at two sub-.500 teams and then a likely sectional title game at home.
When you look at faraway teams, I look at how many points they’ve allowed.

Oddly, the 23 points Lowell, scored in a 35-23 loss at Morton on September 6 is the most points scored against Morton this season. New Prairie has played a difficult schedule but they’ve also given up an uncomfortable 18 points a game, counting games against Clay (1-8), Adams (0-9) and 5A LaPorte.


(4A) Gary West Side (2-6)

1-9 (2018), 2-8 (2017) 1-8 (2016), 4-6 (2015)
Coach Colin McCullough (2 years, 37-15)
Great Lakes Conference (GLC) games in CAPS

8-23 (W) 56-6 at (1A) Gary Roosevelt (0-9)
8-30 (L) 26-27 (4A) Crispus Attucks (6-2)
9-6 (L) 0-40 at (5A) Mishawaka (6-3)
9-13 (L) 24-48 (2A) Bowman Academy (4-5)
9-20 (L) 0-76 at (4A) MORTON (8-1)
10-4 (L) 14-44 (4A) EAST CHICAGO (6-3)
10-11 (W) 52-21 at (3A) CLARK (4-5)
10-18 (L) 34-36 at (4A) GAVIT (3-6)

Class 4A Sectional 17
10-25 (Fri) at LOWELL (5-4)
11-1 (Fri) vs. Griffith (2-6) or Gavit (3-6)

GARY WEST SIDE Update:

GARY –
It's difficult to find out much about West Side, but what stands out is: They can score points.

The Cougars QB has been sophomore Payton Jordan (5-10, 165), who also plays free safety. Jordan is said to have a strong arm and the Cougars spread the offensive formation, though the intention is often to run the ball. Chris Huggins (5-7, 200) is a power runner, while Andre Johnson (5-10, 150) is a speedy receiver.

The Cougars had no chance against Mishawaka (it was 40-0 at the half) or Morton. But they were tied 20-20 at Attucks in the fourth quarter before losing 27-26.

The season-ending 36-34 loss to Gavit had to be a disappointment, but the last two West Side games (they beat Clark 52-21 on Oct. 11), played in cold or wet weather, were still very productive on offense.

The Cougars have a good offensive line, but defensively they have been repeatedly overrun.

West Side has to have looked at Lowell’s last two games and gotten the impression that they have a chance for an upset Friday. If they score first at Lowell, this will be a close game.


2019 (4A) LOWELL (5-4)

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 (5-4)
8-30 (L) 9-35 at (6A) Portage (1-8)
9-6 (L) 23-35 at (4A) Morton (8-1)
9-13 (W) 42-28 (4A) Griffith (2-7)
9-20 (W) 21-14 (4A) at KANKAKEE VALLEY (3-6)
9-27 (W) 24-7 (4A) HIGHLAND (4-5)
10-4 (W) 48-13 at (5A) MUNSTER (0-9)
10-11 (L) 0-13 (3A) ANDREAN (6-3)
10-18 (L) 7-38 at (4A) HOBART (7-2)

Class 4A Sectional 17
10-25 (Fri) Gary West Side (2-6)
11-1 (Fri) vs. Gavit (3-6) or at Griffith (2-7)

LOWELL Update:

LOWELL –
There’s two games you cannot play on any given Friday night. You can't play last week’s game and you can't play next week’s game. It's a new season and the Devils need to repair their offense to win and advance.

Last week a long kickoff return and two early turnovers buried the Devils. They must avoid that this week, obviously.

The Devils will certainly try to run the ball, but I’m not sure who is available. Senior Jacob Chandler (77 carries, 321 yards, 7 TDs) was in street clothes last week. Junior Adam Bank (55 carries, 214 yards) and sophomore Ryan Marx (93 carries, 316 yards) left the game with injuries.

Lowell does have senior running back/wide receiver Jeff Wallis (49 carries, 238 yards) and fullback Ray Ambassi (5-7, 190), who has only carried the ball five times, but has been used as a lead blocker. Sophomore safety and kick returner Joe Heuer (5-6, 175) may be an option. The Devils need a solid game from QB Cam Stojancevich (50 of 107, 652 yards), but throwing the ball may play into West Side’s hands.

Lowell has been outscored 135-90 in the first half, but the Devils have outscored nine opponents by a combined score of 57-7 in the third quarter. Lowell has ‘spotted’ the other team 10-14 point in almost every game in the first half. It's easy for me to say, but that's just confidence, or the lack of it. Truly bad teams don't have that third quarter scoring advantage. If the Devils are to compete in the sectional, it will be obvious early Friday.

The best thing Lowell does offensively is run back kicks. The Devils have run back three kickoffs for TDs and John Alessia has run a punt back for a score.

Defensively the Devils have 14 quarterback sacks and eight interceptions. Lowell has improved the pass defense somewhat as the season has gone on. In the first four games, the Devils allowed 963 yards (241 per game) though the air and in the last five they’ve given up 612 yards (122.1) a game.



Gary West Side (2-6) at LOWELL (5-4)

at 'The Inferno'  -  capacity - 2,500

 

Sagarin ratings:  Lowell by 31.
 

This rating again is about strength of schedule. Lowell has faced Class 6A schools in Portage (1-8) and Crown Point (5-4) and, while West Side did play 5A power Mishawaka, the Cougars also played just eight games. Lowell’s best win was the season opener over CP and that seems like a long time ago. For the record, Hobart was a 21-point favorite over Lowell last week and Brickies won 38-7.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN...

LOWELL (10-25-2019) I’m uneasy here. Lowell has been bad on offense the last two weeks. But the Devils should have superior defense and special teams and they should establish that early. The competitive aspect of this game comes down to whether or not Lowell can run the ball against the Cougar defensive front. I think they can and that will shorten the night.

West Side will have to go to the air and that’s not a consistent strength for the Cougars.

But this game is much more about Lowell than it is about West Side. The Devils' pride had to be hurt by last week’s 31-point loss. The seniors especially cannot go out like that.


LOWELL 31, Gary West Side 14

 

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Revised: October 24, 2019 .