Week 11 - Football Game of the Week Preview

4A Lowell (6-4)
at 4A Griffith (3-6)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


The playoffs will heat up when the Panthers host Lowell in Griffith Friday night. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When: Friday, November 1, 2019

Where: Griffith High School, 600 North Wiggs, Griffith, Indiana.

Tickets:  $6.

Kickoff:    7:00 p.m.
Radio-TV:  The Regional Radio Sports Network (RRSN) will carry this game live on their web site (https://rrsn.com/)

Enrollment: Griffith - 724; LOWELL – 1,128.

WEATHER: Real cold. Daytime temperatures in the low 40s and that means it gets chilly after dark. When I suggest that some November state tournament games be played Saturday afternoon in the sunlight, this is where I’m coming from.

The Class 2A, 4A and 6A state championship games will be played on Saturday, November 30.

There is no real reason that the entire 2A, 4A and 6A state tournament be held on Saturday.

Why play on Saturday? The real question is: Why play on Friday nights in November? Why play in brutal weather after dark when you really don't have to?

Also, the weather Wednesday was rainy and bad and Thursday it was worse. Practice had to be disrupted (or moved indoors) for both teams.


PARKING: This playoff game between two rivals would draw a good crowd on a decent weather night, but in 35-degree cold, there’s going to be room for you. Griffith high is tucked away in the neighborhood with the parking lot right next to the football field. You won't have to walk very far. I’d get there by 6:30 so I can park close to the field. It's a good idea to sit in your car until right before kickoff Friday night. It's a real good idea.


HISTORY: As I've said here many times, there is no purer rivalry in Northwest Indiana than Griffith and Lowell. These two schools have played a varsity football game every single season since Griffith began playing varsity football in 1934. Lowell defeated Griffith 45-6 on October 26, 1934, 85 years ago this week.

According to Northern Indiana Football.com, Clark and Whiting have also played varsity football against each other every years for the last 85 years. Plymouth and Warsaw have played each other every year for the last 89 seasons.

Griffith leads the all-time series 51-36-3 based on the Panthers winning 17 games in a row from 1976 to 1992.

I especially like the story of why Griffith is called Griffith.

A man named E. P. Griffith, a surveyor for the Grand Trunk Railroad in the late 1800s, is the reason this town has its name. In 1852, what is now Griffith was swamp land. Settlers bought the land and drained it. Mr. Griffith mapped the terrain for the railroad and the area he mapped. When the line was completed, it became known as the ‘Griffith Section’.

Over a century and half later, trains are still annoying anybody who wants travel through the south end of town. Griffith is a true railroad town.

Griffith dropped Lowell from the football schedule two years ago, but the Panthers and Devils met in 4A Sectional 17 both years. The two schools signed up to meet in football annually again last year.

Griffith's enrollment is dropping a bit, but they should always play Lowell in every sport. The schools are just too similar.

47th IHSAA State Football Tournament
Class 4A Northern Bracket

LOWELL [6-4] at Griffith (3-6)
Highland [4-6] at Hobart (8-2)

CMA [6-4] at No. 4 New Prairie (9-1)
(SB) St. Joseph [2-8] at Plymouth [8-2]

DeKalb (8-2) at No. 1 East Noble [10-0]
NorthWood [6-3] at No. 10 Leo (9-1)

No. 5 Mississinewa (9-1) at Huntington North [3-7]
Marion (8-2) at New Haven [5-5]


4A OUTLOOK: All the favorites won in the quarterfinals round last week. You see four ranked teams in the north in 4A, but keep in mind that Hobart isn't in the Top-10 because they lost the first two games of the season. That’s a flaw in the state rankings. If you lose early, you can't make it up later against teams that lose late. Did you know that East Noble has won at least seven games in each of the last 10 years. I didn't. 10th-ranked Leo (9-1) has lost only once: 35-7 to East Noble (10-0). One of Plymouth’s two losses is 34-31 to East Noble. One of DeKalb’s two losses is 35-7 to East Noble. Maybe we all better find out something about East Noble, huh?

2019 (4A) Griffith (3-6)
8-3 (2018) 10-2 (2017) 8-4 (2016), 4-7(2015)
Coach Adam Musielak (1st year) 3-6
Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC) SOUTH division games in CAPS

8-23 (L) 7-60 at (5A) Michigan City (4-5)
8-30 (L) 0-63 at (5A) Valparaiso (9-0)
9-6(L) 0-42 (4A) Hobart (8-2)

9-13 (L) 28-42 at (4A) Lowell (6-4)
9-20 (L) 21-44 at (3A) HANOVER CENTRAL (6-4)
9-27 (cancelled) Calumet (8-1)
10-4 (L) 7-27 (3A) BOONE GROVE (10-0)
10-11 (W) 34-6 (3A) WHITING (2-8)
10-18 (W) 37-8 (3A) WHEELER (4-6)

Class 4A Sectional 17
10-25 (W) 47-13 Gavit (3-7)
11-1 (Fri.) LOWELL (6-4)
11-8 (Fri.) at Hobart (9-2)



The Panthers may have gotten a beak when the October 27 game with Calumet was rained out and cancelled. Griffith was 0-7 at that point and Calumet (8-1) was a sure loss. To get two weeks off and a home game with Whiting seemed to right the Panther ‘ship.’ Griffith has won three in a row, scoring 30 or more points in every game.

The Panthers have every reason to feel they have a chance to beat Lowell this Friday.

Junior quarterback Carson Crowe (6-1, 180) is a run-pass threat and he’s looking for the big play down the field. Crowe was just 8-of-24 in the September loss at Lowell, but he threw for 189 yards and two TDs. The Panther veteran also carried the ball 14 times for 91 yards and two more TDs and he’s probably a better runner than he is a passer. The Panthers have some pass catching threats like Rondell Latiker (5-10, 165) and Robert Gordon (5-10, 181), but Crowe has started for two years now and this is his third time playing Lowell. Almost 20 Griffith plays per game are either runs or passes by the quarterback. If Crowe is 100%, that’s a big reason Griffith should be confident Friday night.

The Panthers have not been a strong run defense team. Lowell ran 53 times for 252 yards against Griffith in September and that’s where this game will be decided. If Lowell gets 53 carries, 12 rushing first downs and 252 yards or anything close to that, Griffith’s season ends Friday.

The Panthers’ kicker is sophomore soccer player Bobby Rose who is 22 of 25 on extra points and has one field goal, from 22 yards out. Griffith has been far behind in many games, so Rose has only one field goal attempt.

Griffith is a relatively young team (only 13 seniors) that is not big physically overall up and down both lines. But they have speed. Latiker ran the opening kickoff back for a TD last week in the 37-8 win over Wheeler. Junior Brian Bolden scored on a 41-yard run.

Griffith needs this to be a high-scoring game. If it is, they have a chance for the upset.

2019 (4A) LOWELL (6-4)
10-3 (2018), 14-1 (2017) 9-5 (2016), 12-1 (2015)
Coach Keith Kilmer (8 years, 81-37) 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 (8-2)
9-13 (W) 42-28 (4A) Griffith (3-7)
9-20 (W) 21-14 (4A) at KANKAKEE VALLEY (4-6)
9-27 (W) 24-7 (4A) HIGHLAND (4-6)
10-4 (W) 48-13 at (5A) MUNSTER (0-9)
10-11 (L) 0-13 (3A) ANDREAN (6-4)
10-18 (L) 7-38 at (4A) HOBART (8-2)

Class 4A Sectional 17
10-25 (W) 63-0 Gary West Side (2-7)
11-1 (Fri.) at Griffith (3-7)
11-8 (Fri) at Hobart (9-2)


LOWELL Update:

Lowell coasted past Gary West Side last week but the Cougars did not put up serious competition. The shutout probably said more than the 63 points. Lowell has allowed just 85 points in their last six games (14.1 per game) and that’s counting the 38 Hobart dropped on them.

Lowell has 15 quarterback sacks and 10 pass interceptions. Those totals have to rise Friday because the Panthers' mobile QB is the center of their offensive universe.

The Devils ran 31 times for 300 yards last week with sophomore Joe Heuer scoring four rushing TDs. Heuer had been playing defense for Lowell and he may do double duty this week. I do not know if sophomore running back Ryan Marx (93 carries, 353 yards) is available and he’s also Lowell’s backup QB. Sophomore Johnny Johnson (5-7, 150) has run well and you may see him in short yardage situations.

Junior Cam Stojancevich only threw two passes last week, one a 28-yard TD pass to top receiver John Alessia (18 catches, 252 yards, 3 TDs).

Senior Jacob Chandler (5-8, 150) is Lowell’s leading rusher with 401 yards and seven touchdowns on 82 carries and he'll get the ball a lot if Lowell is on a roll.

The Devils’ have shown a strength in kick returns. Overall, they average 25 yards a kickoff return and 16.5 yards per punt return. On a cold night, kick returns should play a major role.

The Devils played with a lot of confidence last week and there’s no reason for them not to be confident this week. But they’re punching a team that can punch back this week.

The ‘real’ playoffs begin Friday night.

LOWELL (6-4) at Griffith (3-6)

Stadium capacity: 3,000

SAGARIN RATINGS: Lowell by 15.

This rating has to do with Lowell’s win over Griffith 42-28 in September. The only other common opponent for Lowell and Griffith is Hobart, which defeated both the Panthers and Devils easily. Lowell faced two nonconference Class 6A teams in Portage and Crown Point. Griffith faced two Class 5A teams in nonconference play, losing big to Michigan City and Valparaiso. For the record, Lowell was favored by 18 points against Griffith in September and the Devils won 42-28.




GRIFFITH (11-01-2019) I won't go too deeply into a crystal ball. Griffith has to get two or three turnovers from Lowell to win this game Friday.

I thought the Panthers played well offensively in the earlier meeting, but they still wore down later in the game. The unit that will control the game is Lowell’s offensive line. The Devils will get 200 yards rushing and four TDs and they will also get a very inspired effort from the visiting team.

This will feel like a playoff game and on a night when running the football will be preferred, Lowell ‘s depth at running back will lead the way.


LOWELL 28, Griffith 14


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Revised: October 31, 2019 .