Week 11 -  Football Game of the Week Preview

Lowell (10-0) at Highland (4-6)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

Break out the winter coats and gloves for tonight's Class 4A, Sectional 17 Semifinal with the Red Devils taking on the Trojan at Highland High School tonight at 7 p.m. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  7:00 p.m., CDT, Friday, October 27, 2017.

Where:  Highland high school - 9135 Erie Street (2 blocks east of Kennedy Avenue) in Highland.
Tickets: $6
TV/Radio/Internet: WTMK (88.5) FM live, live updates of all local scores all night on WLPR (89.1) FM.

Enrollment: HIGHLAND - 1,128; LOWELL - 1,210

WEATHER: It's going to be cold. Temperatures for the kickoff should be in the mid-40s. Old style Lake County winds of 15-20 miles an hour. Don't be shy about bringing out the winter coats and gloves. We have reached 'that time' of the year. Two hours. Sitting or standing outdoors. 40 degrees. You know what to do.


PARKING: Highland has never had a lot of parking. The school seems squeezed into a residential neighborhood and with an enrollment of over 1,000, the campus has always seemed crowded to me. I don't know how many home fans will show up on this night, but I think some fans and students walk to the game in Highland, rather than try to find a space for their car. Highland has had a losing season, but after a big win last week, local folks will probably turn out to see their boys take on Lowell, the top-ranked team. Get there early so you can park close to the field and wait in your car. It's a little cold to be sitting in the stands at 6:30 waiting for a 7 p.m. game.


WHAT'S AT STAKE: The winner takes on Griffith (9-1) or Morton (8-2) for the 4A Sectional 17 championship on November 3. The winner of this game will also be at home against either Morton or Griffith. A Lowell win takes the Devils to 11-0 for the third time (2008 and 2015) in school history. Lowell was 13-0 in 2008. The Devils have never been 14-0. Andrean (2008) is the only Lake County school to ever go 15-0.


(4A) Highland (4-6)
5-6 (2016), 4-6 (2015), 6-5 (2014), 5-6, (2013)
coach Trent Grider (6th year) 27-38...
Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) league games in CAPS

8-18 (L) 23-27 Morton (3-2)
8-25 (L) 6-35 at Crown Point (2-3)
9-1 (W) 69-12 Clark (1-9)
9-8 (W) 25-12 at Gavit (4-6)
9-15 (L) 21-40 MUNSTER (4-5)
9-22 (L) 0-27 at LOWELL (10-0)
9-29 (L) 7-14 HOBART (6-4)
10-6 (W) 22-20 at KANKAKEE VALLEY (3-7)
10-13 (L) 6-41 ANDREAN (7-3)

Class 4A Sectional 17
10-20 (W) 27-0 Gavit (4-6)
10-27 (Fri) Lowell (10-0)

SCHEDULE: Highland's schedule prepared them for the sectional because they faced Lowell and Morton. Like all the other Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) teams, Highland lost the annual game with Griffith, but the Trojans picked up Crown Point and, despite the final score this year, I think Highland is very happy playing CP every year for the near future.


- Highland did a solid job defeating Gavit 27-0 in the sectional quarterfinals and they now get Lowell at home. They'll certainly be up for this game. Everybody connected with the Trojan program certainly knew who was in the sectional and the chance to play Lowell in Highland is a best-case scenario. Highland won last week with big plays, an 85-yard fumble recovery by sophomore defensive back Mason Plebanski, a 57-yard run by Rafael Rios and a 66-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Dean Foundos to Thomas Crowell.

Once Highland got the lead on Gavit, they didn't throw the ball. Foundos threw just two passes and the other one was intercepted. The Trojans committed 10 penalties that week and they have to cut that total in half to have a chance.

Highland's defense was decent against Lowell, even though the Devils won 27-0 on September 22 in the conference game between the two schools. Lowell gained 164 yards on 49 carries, but scored on TD passes by Ethan Igras to tight end Mitch wWildmnan and Jordan Jusevitch. Tyler Wildman carried 18 times for 58 yards and two TDs.

Highland has to find a way to move the ball. The Trojans were held to 67 yards on 33 carries, while Foundos completed just 2-of-9 passes for 18 yards.

Lowell has to be ready for anything here. Foundos is the punter, so a fake punt is a possibility. Wide receiver John Slaven threw a pass in the earlier meeting. They will try to get the ball in the hands of Rios (5-9, 170), a breakaway runner who only carried three times in the early meeting. Take away a 69-12 win over Clark and Highland averages 15 points a game. The Trojans have lost 15 consecutive games to Lowell, a fact that is being impressed upon them in pre-game talks. The Trojans can and will play every underdog motivational gimmick they can find, but if they fall behind early in the game, it will be difficult to believe in the upset.

LOWELL (10-0)
9-5 (2016), 12-1 (2015), 8-5 (2014), 6-4(2013)
Coach Keith Kilmer (8th season, 61-29)
Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) games in CAPS

8-18 (W) 27-13 (6A) Crown Point (5-4)
8-25 (W) 20-7 at (6A) Portage (4-5)
9-1 (W) 19-0 at (4A) Morton (8-2)
9-8 (W) 63-6 (3A) Clark (1-9)
9-15 (W) 27-13 at (4A) KANKAKEE VALLEY (3-7)
9-22 (W) 27-0 (4A) HIGHLAND (4-6)
9-29 (W) 28-9 at (5A) MUNSTER (4-5)
10-6 (W) 16-0 (3A) ANDREAN (7-3)
10-13 (W) 30-7 at (4A) HOBART (6-4)

Class 4A Sectional 17
10-20 (W) 41-0 Gary West Side (2-8)
10-27 (F) at Highland (4-6)
11-4 (Fri.) vs. Morton (8-2) or Griffith (9-1)

SCHEDULE: Lowell's schedule had them facing large schools at the start of the year and winning teams at the end. The West Side game allowed them to play everyone and get set for the 'second season'.  Lowell played just two of the seven sectional opponents they could have faced but, as it turns out, they could face a rematch with both (highland and Morton) of those teams. Facing a team a second time is almost always an advantage to the team that lost the first meeting.

LOWELL Update:

Lowell held Gary West Side to just one first down and a minus-17 net yards last week. Eleven players carried the ball and 22 boys made tackles. Heading into week 11, Lowell has 17 quarterback sacks and 11 interceptions. Opposing teams have rushed 287 times for 510 yards (1.8 per carry) in 10 games. Lowell opponents have completed 60 of 176 passes for 698 yards.
The Devils have allowed just 55 points in 10 games. Lowell has shut out four teams and they have not been scored on in the first quarter all season.

Lowell was 39-5 in the years 2007, 2008 and 2009.

In the last three seasons, Lowell is 31-6. Lowell varsity football did not have a winning season from 1969 to 1992. Present day Lowell has not had a losing season since 1998. The Devils have won 10 sectional games in a row.

One injury that I do not know the status of is junior defensive end Blake Jansky, who has nine sacks and 16 tackles for losses. Jansky, a very quick edge rusher, has missed the last two games.

4A No. 1 Lowell (10-0) at Highland (4-6)


Highland stadium: Capacity 2,500


There is nothing in the record of either side that convinces you that Highland can beat Lowell. Four teams that defeated Highland (Crown Point, Andrean, Hobart and Munster) all lost to Lowell. I don't see Lowell winning by 33 points because they don't have to. For the record, Gary West Side was a 60-point underdog to Lowell last week and the Devils won 41-0.




HIGHLAND (10-27-2017) After a scoreless first quarter, Lowell gets the board on a punt return by Jordan Jusevitch. Highland strings together three first downs rushing in the second quarter, but turns the ball over on downs deep in Lowell territory.

Both punters get a lot of work as the 7-0 score holds into the third quarter when a short pass from Ethan Igras to Mitch Wildman turns into a pass and run TD. A Lowell turnover sets up Highland for their first score of the game, a QB run by Dan Foundos. But an interception by Logan O'Hanlon gives Lowell good field position and the Devils score a third TD on a short run from Cedric Caschetta. Highland won't break 200 yards total offense as they won't be able to complete many passes on the Lowell defense. The Devils will play it conservatively only the road, forcing Highland to take chances. Three Highland turnovers will help the Devils win for the 11th week in a row.



LOWELL 21, Highland 7

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Revised: October 27, 2017 .