Week 12 - Football Game of the Week Preview

Lowell (7-4) at Munster (6-5)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


Lowell is looking for the Devils' third sectional title in a row while Munster tries to win a sectional for the first time since 1996 as the Mustangs host Lowell in Friday's Class 4A Sectional 17 championship game. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  7:00 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, 2016
 Munster High School, 8808 Columbia (one block east of Calumet), Munster, IN.
Tickets:  $
WTMK (88.5) FM live, live updates of all local scores all night on WLPR (89.1) FM. Live updates on Internet audio stream on USA-365.com.

Enrollment: LOWELL - 1,187; Munster - 1,511.

Decent weather for November... upper-50s or lower-60s with no rain and light winds. Munster has artificial turf so any rain earlier in the week won't matter. With only three 'outdoor' weeks to go (the state finals are obviously indoors), this Friday appears to be as good as you can expect. By the end of the game it'll be chilly for the fans, but near perfect for the boys in uniform.

Parking:  Last time at Munster (in 2015), the home crowd was somewhat disappointing and there was plenty of room to park. I've got to believe that after two playoff victories, Munster folks will turn out in big numbers to see if the home team can upset Lowell. Remember the set-up at Munster. The football field is on the east side of Columbia Ave. while the school is on the west side of the same north-south street. Columbia is just east of Calumet Ave. You are just southeast of Community Park on Calumet where Munster's Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth baseball teams play. You will be in the Munster school parking lot. Unlike at Morton, they don't ask you to pay to park. It's not a long walk to the field, but arrive a little early. Columbia avenue gets bogged down with traffic coming from the north for athletic events at the high school and you will wait longer as game time approaches.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: This is the first night in which they hand out a real trophy (not a leather helmet or a milk can) at the end of the game. Munster is playing for the school's sixth sectional championship and their first in 20 years.

Lowell is playing for the Devils' third consecutive sectional title and their 13th in the last 25 seasons. If Munster wins, they will play on the road on Nov. 11 against Hobart (9-2) or New Prairie (9-2). If Lowell wins, Lowell travels to Hobart (9-2) or they host New Prairie (9-2) in the regional championship game.

Off in the distance, the intriguing potential semistate foe is Northwood, led by all-state quarterback Trey Billinski, who has thrown for 2,800 yards and 35 touchdowns in 11 games. Of the 16 teams left in Class 4A, eight of the top 10 in the final Associated Press weekly poll are still playing this Friday.

Class 4A Northern Regionals
Nov. 4, 2016 (with final state rankings) all games - 7 p.m. local time

Class 4A Sectional 17

LOWELL (7-4) at Munster (6-5)

Class 4A Sectional 18
No. 9 New Prairie (9-2) at No. 11 Hobart (9-2)

Class 4A Sectional 19
No. 2 Northwood (11-0) at No. 13 East Noble (8-2)

Class 4A Sectional 20
No. 8 Bishop Dwenger (8-3) at No. 4 New Haven (10-0)

Munster (6-5)
Coach Leroy March (224-169) 38th season
all Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) Games in CAPS

8-19 (L) 7-35 at Lake Central (4-6)
8-26 (L) 22-25 Chesterton (2-8)
9-2 (W) 47-6 at HIGHLAND (5-6)
9-9 (W) 21-13 at ANDREAN (5-6)
9-16 (W) 20-7 Morton (5-6)
9-23 (L) 21-24 GRIFFITH (8-3)
9-30 (L) 14-19 HOBART (9-2)
10-7 (L) 10-41 at LOWELL (7-4)
10-14 (W) 42-13 KANKAKEE VALLEY (3-8)

4A Sectional 17
10-21 (W) 28-22 East Chicago (7-2)
10-28 (W) 36-15 at Highland (5-6)
11-4 (Friday) Lowell (7-4) 7 p.m.


Munster has advanced to the sectional championship game with wins over East Chicago and Highland. The two wins over arch-rival Highland, both on the road, have been the highlight so far. But Munster's path to this game has been similar to Lowell's. Narrow losses to Hobart (9-2) and Griffith (8-3) and a late winning streak. Munster has two games where they were not close, at Lake Central and at Lowell. But they have reason to believe they have improved. Nothing makes you feel better about your chances than winning a few games in a row.


MUNSTER - Munster probably feels that this game decides their season. A loss and they end up 6-6, which is OK. But a victory over the defending sectional champs from Lowell and the Mustangs win the Section 17 crown making this year is a major success. The Mustangs dominated time of possession last week (28:22 to 16:48) in the semifinals running 67 plays to just 45 for the Trojans. Wide receiver Jaylen Scott has 55 catches for 740 yards. Senior Scott Fischer is a major factor. Scott is a four year kicker who averages 35 yards a punt and has 11 touchbacks on kickoffs. Fischer has eight field goals in the last two seasons and while his longest is 37 yards, his range is almost certainly in the 45-50 yard range.

Dyaln Bullock - (6-0, 160) Junior:
In the first meeting, Lowell limited Munster's junior halfback to 16 yards on four carries. Last week, Bullock (83 carries, 428 yards, 6 TDs) carried 14 times for 113 yards and three scores. He's clearly the second option to senior Danny Stanley and the Mustangs don't figure to forget about him this Friday. In the first meeting between Lowell and Munster five weeks ago, QB Andrew Jumonville was 6-for-17 for 43 yards. It's unlikely they'll go to the air early against the Devils this time, especially with the rushing success (51 carries, 286 yards) they had last week. If Lowell keys too much on Danny Stanley, Bullock may be able to break some big gains.

RB - Danny Stanley (5-9, 170) Senior:
In the first game between Lowell and Munster, Danny Stanley was held to 15 yards on nine carries. 'Held' is a relative term. Once Lowell scored 20 points in the second quarter and took a 23-7 lead, the Mustangs had to throw (17 times) more than they probably wanted to. Last week at Highland, Stanley carried 26 times for 173 yards in the 36-15 win over the Trojans. For the season, Stanley (160 carries, 898 yards) has carried almost as much as QB Andrew Jumonville (92 of 166, 1,179 yards, 8 TDs) has thrown the ball. It appears that Munster runs Stanley as much as they throw it with Jumonville. In the first game, they got away from that. I'd expect the Mustangs to, at least, begin the game with Stanley carrying a few times.

QB - Andrew Jumonville (6-0, 175) Senior:
Andrew Jumonville is 92 of 166 for 1,179 yards and seven TDs and he's starting for the second year in a row. Jumonville, a fairly mobile passer with a good arm, missed both of last season's Munster vs. Lowell games. Four weeks ago, Jumonville was 6-of-17 for just 44 yards. Andrew would like to throw a little less and complete a few more this Friday. A baseball player who batted .402 (37 of 92) with 21 RBIs on the baseball field last spring. Jumonville was 9-of-16 last week at Highland for 89 yards and two touchdowns, 10 yards to Justin Goshen and 22 yards to Danny Stanley. Any senior quarterback wants to play for a championship on his home field. That's what Andrew Jumonville gets to do this Friday night.

LOWELL (7-4)
Coach Keith Kilmer (49-28) 7th season
all Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) Games in CAPS

8-19 (L) 3-9 (OT) at Crown Point (5-5)
8-26 (L) 27-28 Portage (6-5)
9-2 (W) 35-0 KANKAKEE VALLEY (3-8)
9-9 (W) 9-17 at GRIFFITH (8-3)
9-16 (W) 41-14 at HIGHLAND (5-6)
9-23 (L) 12-18 HOBART (9-2)
9-30 (W) 33-6 at Morton (4-7)
10-7 (W) 41-10 MUNSTER (6-5)
10-14 (W) 35-21 at ANDREAN (5-6)

4A Sectional 17

10-21 (W) 65-6 Gary West Side (1-8)
10-28 (W) 49-2 at Morton (4-7)
11-4 (Friday) at Munster (6-5) 7 p.m.


LOWELL Update:

- Lowell has to be careful here that they forget about the 41-10 win over Munster four weeks ago. The Mustangs have won three games in a row since then and, playing at home, they will present much more
of a challenge than they did on that night. The Devils' two sectional games suggest they are ready for the sectional championship game. Two years ago, when Lowell won the sectional championship game, the Devils won the quarterfinal game 48-7 over Griffith and then won the semifinal 41-0. Last season, when Lowell won the sectional championship game, the Devils took the quarterfinal 31-0 over Munster, and won the semifinal 35-14 over Morton. Sectional champions in Indiana high school football rarely win three close games. Sophomore quarterback Ethan Igras has thrown only 46 passes, completing 30 for seven touchdowns. Junior tight end Mitch Wildman has caught 15 passes for 297 yards and five touchdowns. Junior Jordan Jusevitch has three interceptions and three fumble recoveries in only eight games played. Junior Jaeger Gill has carried the ball 33 times for 336 yards.

RB - Trevor Espravnik (5-11, 184) Senior:
Espravnik carried 30 times for a career-high 219 yards and three touchdowns last week at Morton. When a play is effective for the Devils, they tend to keep running it so Trevor is going to get the ball 20-30 times this Friday. Espravnik has six 100-yard games in 11 starts.


All-time single season Lowell rushing leaders in the state tournament era (1973-present):
1. Brandon Grubbe (2009) 403 carries, 2,417 yards
2. Ike James (2014) 319-2,411 yards
3. Scott Gray (2005) 323-2,336 yards
4. Michael Pickett (1994) 339-2,256 yards
5. Toby Goetz (2004) 276-1,939 yards
6. Ike James (2-15) 347-1,931 yards
7. Matt Pernick (1996) 229-1,827 yards
8. George Fields (2012) 277-1,811 yards
9. Michael Pickett (1993) 273-1,687 yards
10. Brandon Grubbe (2007) 281-1,675 yards
11. Justin Henley (2002) 167- 1,552 yards
12. Cole Midgett (2010) 195-1,481 yards
13. Justin Henley (2003) 227-1,447 yards
14. Trevor Espravnik (2016) 209-1,357 yards (still active)
15. Mike French (2000) 200-1,382 yards
16.George Fields (2013) 209-1,377 yards
17. Matt Pernick (1995) 175-1,349 yards
18. Max Znika (2006) 224-1,302 yards
19. Mike French (1999) 226 carries, 1,280 yards
20. Sean Anderson (2001) 242-1,048 yards
21. Nick Holley (1997) 131-1,014 yards

Trevor Espravnik (2016) 131 carries, 884 yards (still active)


DE - Blake Jansky (6-0, 185) Sophomore:
Blake Jansky was credited with two quarterback sacks and four tackles for loss last week in the 49-2 win at Morton. Jansky, a quick, undersized defensive end, has 20 tackles for lost yardage (including six QB sacks) in 11 games and you can stop there. You cannot get 20 tackles for loss by being lucky or just "being in the right place at the right time." In the final game of the regular season, Blake recorded five tackles for losses including three sacks. I'm not sure how Jansky is doing this, but you can bet Munster has spent some time this week trying to figure it out.

CB - Logan Charters (6-1, 179) Junior:
Logan Charters was in on 10 tackles last week in the win at Morton. For the season, Logan has been involved in 55 tackles including five tackles for losses. Charters is another Lowell defender who does not yet play regularly on offense. Many Lowell seniors end up getting in on both sides of the ball, but Lowell has relatively few seniors (13) on the roster. They needed underclassmen to play significant roles for this to be a winning season. The increasing production of 'one way' starters like Charters and Jansky has helped the Devils defense that has held six teams to 10 points or less.
There's no mystery as to why Lowell has won five in a row. The Devils have allowed just 1,926 yards and 92 first downs in 11 games. Lowell has eight interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. Opponents average 2.9 yards a carry against the Devils and Lowell has allowed just 81 pass completions in 11 games.

Lowell (7-4) at Munster (6-5)

Munster Stadium  -  capacity: 3,000


Sagarin ratings:  Lowell by 8

The Devils are favored because they defeated Munster 41-10 four weeks ago. There isn't a lot else different in the results of the two teams. There seems to be a school of thought that Lowell's 41-10 win over Munster was somewhat of a fluke when it comes to the margin of victory. Lowell was favored by six and won by 31 four weeks ago. Four weeks later, the Devils are favored by eight. The statistical suggestion there is that Munster let the first game get out of hand and that the rematch will be much closer.


MUNSTER (11-04-2016) This game starts slow with a scoreless first quarter before Ethan Igras scores on a short run at the end of a long drive. After fumbles by both side, Jake Post's field goal gives Lowell a 10-0 halftime edge. Munster gets on the board as Andrew Jumonville flips a short pas to Danny Stanley, who runs for a long TD in the second period.

Lowell's Trevor Espravnik doesn't get much in the first half, but his third quarter TD at the end of a long drive makes it 17-7. Munster moves the ball in the middle of the field much of the second half, but they stall out twice in the fourth quarter on downs.

Lowell gets a second field goal from Post in the fourth quarter as the Devils' defense holds Munster off the scoreboard in the second half.

The focus of this game will be Munster trying to find a way to score on Lowell's defense, something they did not do in the earlier meeting. The Devils won't score as easily as they did in the regular season matchup and there will be some moments of concern during this one. But Lowell will have enough on the road to win a third consecutive sectional championship.

LOWELL 20, Munster 7


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Revised: November 03, 2016 .