Week 4 - Football Game of the Week Preview

Clark (0-3) at Lowell (3-0)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


Clark used to scrimmage at Lowell, but the Pioneers have rarely played there. Just the 7th meeting all time of Clark and Lowell is Friday night. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When: Friday, September 8, 2017

Where:  Lowell high school, 3 miles east of I-65 on US-2, Lowell, Indiana.

Tickets:  $6 - (for everybody).

Kickoff:    7:00 p.m.
WTMK (88.5) FM live, Live updates of all local scores all night on WLPR (89.1) FM.

Enrollment: Hammond Clark - 751; LOWELL - 1,210.

WEATHER: Another good, dry night. Mid-60s for the kickoff and upper-50s late in the game. Some mid-week rain may make the natural grass at Lowell a little soft, but no rain is scheduled for game day. We've had a run of very good Friday night weather. Keep it coming.


PARKING: Lowell's summer construction does not affect the football parking anymore, but for this game, that won't be an issue anyway. I'm guessing that, outside of players and coaches, very few people will make the long trip from the north end of Hammond down to Route 2 for this game. You can show up at 6:45 p.m. and stroll on in for this one.


WHAT's AT STAKE: Nothing. This is a nonconference game between teams that have no history. Clark will play with nothing to lose. The Pioneers have not won a game since 2014, so they'll play free and easy, for what that's worth. For Lowell, if you are on the junior varsity or the freshman team, you might get into this home game. Correction: You WILL get into this game. Here's a chance to show the coaches what you can do. If your mom comes to the games but you never get in, make sure the old girl comes to this one because you WILL be playing.


HISTORY: There isn't much. Back in 1998, when Lowell was 2-8, the Pioneers topped Lowell 21-19 on the opening night of the state tournament. In 1994, Lowell's regional championship team stopped Clark 28-8 in the sectional semifinals. Clark and Lowell have never been in the same conference and they haven't been in the same sectional since the late 90s. In the 1975 and '76 seasons, Lowell and Clark split nonconference games early in the season. In the first two years of Clark varsity football, the Pioneers shut out Lowell 14-0 on October 5, 1934 and were shut out by Lowell 7-0 on September 6, 1933.

That's all, folks. Six meetings all time. Why?

I don't know anything except the obvious. Clark is on 119th street on the Whiting border at the north end of Hammond while Lowell is the southern most school in Lake County over 20 miles away. Neither school was a power in football for much of the 20th Century so there just wasn't any big urge to get together.


George Rogers Clark high school is named after the 'pioneer' and Indiana fighter of the late 1700s who lived his latter years in Clarksville, Indiana. I don't know the connection between GRC and the city of Hammond, if there is one.

Clark (0-3)
0-10 (2016), 0-10 (2015), 1-9 (2014), 5-5 (2013)
Coach Nick Testa (1st season, 0-3) Great Lakes Athletic Conference (GLAC) games in CAPS

8-18 (L) 12-74 at Whiting (1-2)
8-25 (L) 23-38 Lake Station (1-2)
9-1 (L) 12-69 at Highland (2-1)
9-8 (F) at Lowell (3-0)
9-15 (F) at HAMMOND (1-2)
9-22 (F) East Chicago (1-2)
9-29 (F) at GAVIT (1-2)
10-6 (F) Gary West Side (1-2)
10-13 (F) at MORTON (1-2)

Class 4A Sectional 17

with Calumet, Wheeler, Andrean, Calumet, West Lafayette, Benton Central and Hanover Central.

SCHEDULE: Forget the postseason. Where could Clark possibly win a game and stop the 4-year losing streak? Hammond high could be the victim, but the Wildcats have scored 70 points the last two weeks. Clark would appear to have no chance to beat Gavit, EC, Andrean or Morton. Check out Clark vs. Gary West Side on October 6. The final home game for Clark seniors. West Side is 1-2 but they've given up 40 points or more in all three games so far. Clark could get their first win in four years on October 6.

CLARK Update:

Clark has lost 25 games in a row going back to a 42-14 win over Gary Roosevelt on October 10, 2014. Clark's last winning season was when they went 6-4 under coach Dave Verta in 2010. This is hardly a program that has 'always been bad.' Clark was 28-15 from 2007 to 2010. But Clark has never won a sectional in the 45 years of the IHSAA state tournament.

To me they are a victim of circumstance. Hammond, Gavit and Morton have all done better than Clark, but other than Morton, none have excelled. Whiting is blocks away for Clark and Whiting is a small school football power. Clark is also very close to Bishop Noll, which takes more of 'their' students.

There is a neighborhood issue here. Bishop Noll has lost 24 football games in a row. Any players in the north end of Hammond are simply going someplace else. The 1986 IHSAA directory had Clark with 823 students, not many more than they have now. The football players just aren't staying. But there is a larger reality.

There just aren't enough kids in Hammond to support four high schools. In 1960, Hammond, by the official census count, had 111,000 residents. By 1980, it was down to 90,000. By 2015, it was less than 80,000. Beyond football and athletics, Hammond needs to consolidate high schools. But how would that work? Morton, Hammond and Gavit are all in the south end of Hammond. A consolidation would probably be Hammond and Gavit or Hammond and Morton. Clark is on the 119th street border with Whiting. They are more likely to close than anything else.

Tough decisions. But a new, 2,000-kid high school in Hammond would rejuvenate the entire city, not just athletics.

Obviously, the Pioneers can't stop anyone, but they have scored at least two TDs in every game, which suggests they don't give up. Clark uses a spread offense and they will throw the ball. In the 38-23 loss to Lake Station, Clark outscored the Eagles 16-14 in the second half.  The Pioneers have just two starters back on defense so Clark has to take five to six minutes off the clock on every possession to have a chance.

Preseason reports had baseball pitcher Matt Johnson as the quarterback. I don't know how that's going. For Clark, it will be a victory if they simply maintain the roster and nobody quits.

LOWELL (3-0)
9-5 (2016), 12-1 (2015), 8-5 (2014), 6-4(2013)
Coach Keith Kilmer (8th season, 54-29) Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) games in CAPS
8-18 (W) 27-13 6A Crown Point (1-2)
8-25 (W) 20-7 at 6A Portage (1-2)
9-1 (W) 19-0 at 4A Morton (1-2)
9-8 (F) 3A Clark (0-3)
9-15 (F) at 4A KANKAKEE VALLEY (2-1)
9-22 (F) 4A HIGHLAND (1-2)
9-29 (F) at 5A MUNSTER (1-2)
10-6 (F) 3A ANDREAN (2-1)
10-13 (F) at 4A HOBART (2-1)

Class 4A Sectional 17
with Hammond, Highland, Griffith, Gavit, East Chicago, Gary West Side and Morton.

SCHEDULE: You're never supposed to look ahead in the schedule, but this week, I'd like to. This is the final nonconference game for Lowell and one they didn't want. Clark replaced Griffith in the schedule when Griffith left the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) for the Greater South Shore Conference (GSSC). Lowell, like the other NCC teams were left with a hole in their schedule and no one to play. You can't play the Duneland Athletic Conference teams after week two because they are in league play. The only viable opponent for Lowell in the GSSC is Griffith and the Panthers just dropped them. In the GLAC Lowell already plays Morton. They could try to interest East Chicago, who will be playing Hobart Friday. Most Illinois schools are into conference play by week four.
When Lowell is highly rated as they are now (4A No. 3 this week), there is talk of them traveling Indianapolis to take on one of the powers there. Now I don't have anything to do with anybody's schedule-making strategy, but I would be comfortable saying this.

There is about as much chance of Lowell traveling to Indianapolis to play Chatard or Roncalli as there is a for any Indy school coming to Lowell for a nonconference mid-season game. And that possibility is 'zero'.

Lowell's probably going be playing Clark for the next few years.

LOWELL Update:

Lowell has one issue on this night: Who to play and for how long. It's not simple. You can justify holding many of your key players out of this game. Clark has little depth and can't challenge Lowell for long. The problem is your seniors. As weak as Clark is, they want to play in home games their senior year. There aren't many left. As much as it may benefit players who hope to be playing into November, it's hard to tell boys who have worked all their lives to get to the varsity, to sit out a game their senior seasons.

The Devils still need to work on running the ball. They gained 186 yards on 41 carries last week at Morton, but the Devils top two runners are still averaging less than three yards a carry. Lowell lost three turnovers last week and they'd probably like to cut that number by three this Friday.

Other than that, the Devils just want to play a lot of people and stay healthy this week. Who to play and for how long.

Clark (0-3) at 4A No. 3 LOWELL (3-0)

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


SAGARIN RATINGS:  This is a week where these ratings don't apply. Let's just say that according to the computer, Lowell will defeat Clark by a margin that frankly, is not possible. Lowell was a 38-point favorite at Morton last week and they won by 19.




LOWELL (09-08-2017) Clark has simply allowed too many points (181 in 3 games) to allow belief they'll stay close in this one. But Lowell has to respect the opponent. The Pioneers will be playing at Lowell for the first time and these are the boys who have stuck it out through winless seasons. This is a highlight to their season and they may play like it early on.

This is a game as long as Lowell allows it to be.

If they meet the level of intensity of the visitors, the Devils will have no problem on the scoreboard. Respect your opponent and then respect the game.

Clark stays winless and Lowell stays unbeaten.


LOWELL 56, Clark 0


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Revised: September 07, 2017 .