Week 13 -  Football Game of the Week Preview

Class 4A Regional Preview:
No. 6 New Prairie (11-1) at
No. 1 Lowell (12-0)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


Lowell seniors Mitch Wildman, Jaeger Gill (2), Jordan Jusevitch (6) and Robert Miller (21) will defend the home field against 6th-ranked New Prairie in a Class 4A regional championship game Friday night. (Photo by Mark Smith)


When: 7:00 p.m., CST on Friday, November 10, 2017.
Lowell high school, 3 miles east of I-65 on US-2, Lowell, Indiana.


WTMK (88.5) FM live, live updates of all local scores all night on WLPR (89.1) FM. 

New Prairie - 1,000; LOWELL - 1,210. (The 1987 IHSAA directory listed New Prairie high school as having 684 students.)

Weather: Permission to speak freely boys and girls? This might be the coldest high school game you have ever attended and I probably need to start there. I want you to cheer on the your team in the biggest game of the year, but the game-time temperature will be 25 degrees. The very young and the very old (like me) should stay home. I wish they'd play late season football games (after all other fall sports have concluded) on Saturday afternoons to beat the pain of a night like Friday, but that is NOT happening. Football is the only outdoor high school sport that will play when temperatures are below freezing.

Back in the good old days, I remember Hobart legend Don Howell ordering his folks to sit old style oil barrels at the corners of the field, fill them with wood chips and light them up on super cold nights. But only a football God like Howell could get away with that.

About 10 years ago when the Devils played in Fort Wayne, somebody sent along some giant oil-fired heaters that kept the boys from having their body parts cease functioining. I expect something like that will be on the sidelines in Lowell Friday.

In the stands, full body suits, heat packets and a lof of warm friends are some things that come to mind. Good luck to you.


PARKING: I'm not sure how many fans will come from New Prairie for this game. If the weather was decent, the crowd would overflow 'The Inferno'. But if I didn't have a horse in this race, I'd listen on the radio. For New Prairie fans, there is more parking at Lowell than there appears to be when you first drive up. I'd come in groups (car pools) if I could, but Lowell has had many big playoff games. The logistics of where the cars go is not new to them. All fans should park as close to the field as they can and sit in their car until the game is about to start. I don't want you sitting in the stands at 6:30 for a 7 p.m. game when it's 25 degrees. But if you are thinking about ignoring the cold and coming west for the game, keep coming. Lowell has more room in the visitors' stands than New Prairie does. There's room for you.


WHAT'S AT STAKE: Everything.

Both teams have that sectional championship trophy at home so this season now has certified quality. But both sides have senior-dominated teams and they both hoped to end up playing in that big, warm igloo in downtown Indianapolis. If New Prairie defeats Lowell, they would host Angoloa (12-0 in semistate play on November 15. The Cougars would play Bishop Dwenger in Fort Wayne if that is the match up. This game Friday is Lowell's final home game of the 2017 season. The Devils would play either Angola or Dwenger on the road and the game would probably be played Saturday, November 16 due to the distance involved.

Class 4A Northern Regional Championship Games
No. 6 New Prairie (11-1) at No. 1 LOWELL (12-0)
No. 8 Bishop Dwenger (9-3) at No. 5 Angola (12-0)

Class 4A Southern Regional Championship Games
Mississinewa (10-2) at Greenwood (10-2)
No. 3 Evansville Central (11-1) at No. 9 East Central (9-3)

NOTE: Mississinewa (in Grant County outside Marion) has not won a regional title since 1985 and the school must be growing significantly. I don't know how they are 4A. Mississinewa plays six Class 2A schools and has for years. They will lose to Greenwood which played five Class 5A schools during the regular season.

But Angola and Bishop Dwenger are rated even in the computer rankings (so were Lowell and Griffith), but I would be 'fall down surprised' if Dwenger does not beat Angola. The Saints play in the tough Summit Athletic Conference (SAC) and their losses are to 6A Homestead, 6A Snider and 6A Carroll. Evansville Central is the top-rated team in the south after defeating Evansville rival and 4A No. 2 Reitz (8-2) in the Sectional 24 quarterfinals.

Whoever gets out of the north should find Evansville Central (11-1), and the 'Boy King" 5-foot-5, 155-pound sophomore Tor'Juan Evans (252 carries, 2,551 yards, 32 TDs) waiting for them in Indianapolis.


HISTORY: New Carlisle, Indiana is a very pretty place in the middle of no where. A lot of people must agree because the school keeps getting bigger. You may already know that New Prairie high school is a 1968 consolidation of New Carlisle and Rolling Prairie high schools. That's why the school is called New Prairie. Rolling Prairie high dated back to 1928 while New Carlisle started playing sports in 1933. New Carlisle is about 15 miles east of LaPorte at the east end of LaPorte County. They are basically what Hanover Central is to Lowell, except that New Prairie has grown significantly.

In 1986, New Prairie had 684 students. In 1995, it had 708. In 2002, it had 800. Three years ago, New Prairie had 933 students and now they are at 1,000. The football programs is a lot like Lowell's. They are a public school which spent a long time losing on the football field.

Then an old crusty coach (Bart Curtis) came to the school in 2002 and the team began to win. 52-18 in eight years. Curtis them went to Mishawaka and the school eventually found another old, crusty coach in the former Griffith and North Judson coach Russ Radtke, who is 60-13 in the last six years.

Football is everything in the the New Carlisle-Rolling Prairie community. The team topped Lowell 28-27 in 2014 and reached the state finals, the first state finals berth in any sport for the Cougars. There is talk this team could go back.


Team 1 2 3 4 F
LOWELL (8-5) 6 7 0 14 27
GARY WEST SIDE (2-9) 7 14 7 0 28

Friday, November 14, 2014 - 23 degrees, dry - Class 4A Regional at NEW CARLISLE, Ind.

1st Qtr: (7-0) Nick Brassell 21-yard TD pass to Drake Dierdorf. Evan King kick. 5:48 left.
LOWELL (7-6)
Ike James 70-yard run. Kick wide. 5:26 left.

2nd Qtr: LOWELL (7-13) Ike James, 3-yard run. Colton Wilkey kick. 11:55 left.
Nick Brassell 37-yard run. Evan King kick, 4:51 left.
Nick Brassell 40-yard run. Evan King kick, 2:18 left.
3rd Qtr: NEW PRAIRIE (28-13) Nick Brassell 73-yard run. Evan King kick. 11:00 left.
4th Qtr: LOWELL (28-21)
Darion Hornickel. 24-yard pass from Zach Bobos. Darryl Deveaux, 2-point run. 10:08 left.
LOWELL (28-27)
Ike James, 7-yard run. Run failed. 1:19 left.

NEW PRAIRIE (41 carries, 300 yards, 3 TDs, one fumble): Nick Brassell (QB) 17 carries, 204 yards, 3 TDs; Tyler Weller (HB) 16-79 yards; Jordan Peck (HB) 8-17 yards.

LOWELL (43 carries, 297 yards, 3 TDs, 0 fumbles): Ike James (HB) 34 carries, 226 yards, 3 TDs (season: 321 carries, 2,413 yards, 2nd all-time at Lowell); Zach Bobos (QB) 8-57 yards; Austin Giordano (FB) 2-3 yards; Darion Hornickel (QB-WR) 1-11 yards.

NEW PRAIRIE: Nick Brassell (QB) 2 of 4, 36 yards, One TD, no interceptions.
LOWELL: Zach Bobos (QB) 3 of 8, 53 yards, One TD, one interception.

NEW PRAIRIE: Drake Dierdorf (WR) 1-21 yards, TD; Evan King (WR) 1-15 yards.
LOWELL: Darion Hornickel (WR) 1-24 yards, TD; Austin Giordano (FB) 1-6 yards, Jacob Belt (WR) 1-24 yards.

NEW PRAIRIE (1) one fumble; LOWELL (1) one interception.

NEW CARLISLE (11-14-2014) Even though they lost, this was one of Lowell's all-time greatest games. First of all, the day began with doubts the game would be played at all. The day before, LaPorte County got six inches of snow. New Prairie folks did not want to postpone the game to Saturday and they worked all day Friday to clear the field. You had to walk through a half foot of snow to get to the field but the playing surface was clear.

The Cougars star QB Nick Brassell broke loose for three long runs to put the home team up by 15 points and seemingly grab hold of the game. But, in the first meeting ever between the two schools, Lowell seemed to get stronger as the game went longer. Trailing 28-21 in the middle of the fourth quarter, Lowell mounted a drive with all-stater Ike James getting into the end zone with 1:19 to play.

Lowell decided to play to win instead of kicking a game tying extra point on a slick field. But James, who had rushed for over 2,000 yards on the season, slipped and fell on a two-point conversion sweep and the Cougars won 28-27.

New Prairie went on to reach the state championship game where they were overrun by undefeated and top-ranked New Palestine 77-42. New Palestine is now a 5A school. It's unlikely Lowell could have defeated New Pal, but we'll never know. Just like we'll never know what would have happened if James hadn't slipped on the New Carlise ice.


New Prairie (11-1)
9-3 (2016), 6-4 (2015), 13-2 (2014), 12-1 (2013)
Coach Russ Radtke (6th season, 60-13)

8-18 (L) 12-41 at (5A) LaPorte (7-4)
8-25 (W) 73-0 (4A) Clay (0-10)
9-1 (W) 42-3 at (3A) Andrean (8-4)
9-8 (W) 46-7 (4A) @ (SB) Washington (3-7)
9-15 (W) 61-13 (2A) Bremen (4-6)
9-22 (W) 42-32 (4A) Riley (7-4)
9-29 (W) 42-0 (3A) @ (Mishawaka) Marian (8-4)
10-6 (W) 49-0 (3A) John Glenn (3-7)
10-13 (W) 47-13 (3A) Jimtown (6-6)

Class 4A Sectional 18
10-20 (W) 56-0 at (South Bend) Washington (3-7)
10-27 (W) 43-21 at Mishawaka (6-5)
11-3 (W) 42-7 (South Bend) St Joseph's (5-7)

Class 4A Northern Regional
11-10 (Fri.) at LOWELL (12-0)

SCHEDULE: New Prairie still plays a couple of the teams they played when they were a much smaller schools. The nonconference games with Andrean and Marian are new, but the Cougars have always played LaPorte, their next door neighbor. When the Northern Indiana Conference (NIC) went to two divisions, New Prairie joined up after the end of the old Northern States Conference.
New Prairie's schedule is going to be as tough as some of the South Bend city schools are.

I never did find out how many Andrean players were suspended for the game with New Prairie after a fight the week before against Bishop Noll. The 42-3 win by the Cougars is a little deceptive.


New Prairie has run for 70 touchdowns in 12 games and they expected to do this week. Senior quarterback Nick Wilson (5-10, 171) has carried 185 times for 1,871 yards (a 10.2 average) and 23 TDs. Fullback back Chris Mays (5-10, 160) has run 125 times for 1,166 yards and 17 TDs. Halfback (and backup QB) Chase Ketterer (6-0, 175) has carried 188 times for 1,375 yards and 26 TDs.

How have they done this? Probably behind two senior offensive tackles, Jozef Janik (6-3, 301) and Leighton Rodriguez (6-1, 301). It works. Wilson has thrown just 51 passes all season completing 28 of 51 for 614 yards and five touchdowns. Two key statistics there is: No interceptions and just 14 punts all season. Few teams have stopped them.

Wilson is the key to it all. In 2016, the Cougars were 9-3 and Nick Wilson ran 285 times for 1,652 yards. He threw 101 times last season so he's capable. New Prairie just hasn't had to throw this season.

And that's the issue here. The Cougars have rolled over Mishawaka and St. Joseph's and Jimtown, teams that are traditionally strong. Games with Mishawaka and Riley have been close at one point, but the Cougars have won 11 games by 10 points or more.

The season-opening 41-12 loss to LaPorte (7-4) doesn't fit with the rest of the results, but that game was so long ago it was warm outside.

Defensively, it's hard to say how good the Cougars are because the offense dominates everyone. Cornerback Danny Tyler (5-9, 145) has five interceptions. Senior linebacker Pat Piesyk (6-3, 215) has 77 tackles and cornerback Cade Boniface (6-3, 191) has 55 stops.

Dan Flaherty (6-5, 225) plays tight end and defensive end and he has four quarterback sacks. Sophomore Nolan Szymanski is 42 of 50 on extra points and the Cougars have not attempted a field goal all season.

LOWELL (12-0)
9-5 (2016), 12-1 (2015), 8-5 (2014), 6-4(2013)
Coach Keith Kilmer (8th season, 63-29)
Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) games in CAPS

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

Class 4A Sectional 17
10-20 (W) 41-0 Gary West Side (2-8)
10-27 (W) 35-0 Highland (4-7)
11-3 (W) 42-7 Griffith (10-2)

Class 4A Northern Regional
10-10 (Fri) New Prairie (11-1)

SCHEDULE: Lowell has dominated their end of the state tournament so far that the teams they have played have come into question. Griffith did not seem anywhere near as formidable as their record indicated. The Devils also played Hobart on a night when Hobart QB Sam Erlich did not play.

Lowell did beat Crown Point (7-4) and the Bulldogs went on to win Class 6A Sectional 1. Lowell topped Andrean (8-4) and Morton (8-3) but they have to be wondering when the big challenge will come to their defense, which has allowed just 62 points all season.

LOWELL Update:

Safety Jordan Jusevitch (6-0, 205) has been in on 84 tackles and has grabbed six interceptions. Junior End Blake Jansky (6-0, 185) is playing on a banged up knee, but he leads Lowell with 10 quarterback sacks and 18 tackles for losses. Cornerback Logan O'Hanlon (5-9, 155) has three pass interceptions and six pass breakups.

Defensive tackles Chandler Austgen (6-2, 273) and Jake Mitrisin (6-2, 305) will be in the spotlight Friday. They usually play in obvious run situations and sub out on passing downs. I don't know how many passing downs New Prairie has.

Linebackers Robert Miller (77 tackles) and Mitch Wildman (76 tackles) will be among those trying to run down New Prairie's three 1,000-yard rushers. No doubt the turf will be hard and fast. Lowell has 15 pass interceptions and 20 quarterback sacks, but those numbers will only matter if the Cougars fall behind and have to throw the ball.

Red Devil QB Ethan Igras (58 of 108, 1,043 yards and 12 TDs) will want to throw the ball some, no matter how cold it is. Senior Jaeger Gill (6-0, 185) is a trouble maker with 17 catches for 470 yards and seven TDs. When the Devils split Gill, Jordan Jusevitch (12 catches, 207 yards) and Mitch Wildman (12 catches, 225 yards) wide, how much manpower will New Prairie assign to the perimeter?

Lowell halfback Tyler Wildman (165 carries, 799 yards, 10 TDs) is the small, fast back while Cedric Caschetta (73 carries, 374 yards) is the big, short yardage runner.

The key on this night will be holding onto the ball.

The Devils have run five kicks back for touchdowns and they have punted 28 times. Ryan Farmer is 46 of 53 on extra points and he was 6-of-6 last week. The Devils are as healthy as a team can be after playing 12 weeks in a row. Boys are playing 'hurt,' but this is the final month of the season.

For the 23 seniors on the Lowell playoff roster, this is their final home game and they don't need to be told that the Devils have been eliminated from the playoffs on their home field the last two years. Lowell will be ready. They've been here before.


4A No. 6 NEW PRAIRIE (11-1) at 4A No.1 LOWELL (12-0)

Lowell Stadium, 'The Inferno' capacity: 2,500 (est.)


SAGARIN RATINGS: New Prairie by 4.

New Prairie has 79.11 points in the Sagarin ratings system, good for 28th overall, 2nd in Class 4A. Lowell meanwhile has 73.65 Sagarin points, good for 46th overall, and 7th in Class 4A.



LOWELL (11-10-2017) This won't be a high-scoring game because both sides will be somewhat conservative. There could easily be an exchange of turnovers here as the boys get used to the hitting and the cold. I see Lowell taking a first quarter lead on a punt return TD by Jordan Jusevitch. A short New Prairie punt set up the Devils for a pass-and-run TD from Ethan Igras to tight end Mitch Wildman.

The Cougars strike before halftime on run by the fullback Chris Mays to make it 14-7.

A long kick return and a short drive sets up Cedric Caschetta for a short TD and a 21-7 edge. An interception by Jaeger Gill will set up Lowell's fourth TD, a keeper by Igras. A fourth quarter TD by Nick Wilson closes the gap, but Lowell will be able to run the clock out comfortably.

One difference in this game should be special teams. New Prairie hasn't punted the ball much, covered punts much (obviously) or kicked field goals at all this season. Lowell has and they have big time kick return threats. The Cougars numbers tell you they are used to breaking long TD runs. That will be very difficult at Lowell.

The Devils advance to play Bishop Dwenger in the 4A Northern Semistate.


LOWELL 28, New Prairie 14

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Revised: November 09, 2017 .