Week 5 -  Football Game of the Week Preview

4A Lowell (4-0) at
4A Kankakee Valley (3-1)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


When:  Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.

Where:  Kankakee Valley high school, 3923 State Road 10, in Wheatfield, Ind (west of DeMotte).

Tickets:  $6.

Kickoff:   7 p.m.
TV/Radio/Internet: WTMK (88.5) FM live coverage, live updates of all local scores all night on WLPR (89.1) FM.

Lowell (4 games) and Kankakee Valley (3 games) put winning streaks on the line Friday night at Kankakee Valley high school. (Photo by Mark Smith)

Enrollment: LOWELL - 1,210; Kankakee Valley - 1,097.

WEATHER: A bit warmer than most nights so far but with sunset right at 7 p.m., it may cool off quickly.
Mid 70s at game time but mid-60s by the second half. So far this year, no electrical storms. No fast moving heavy rains. No 85-degree nights. Its been a pretty good year.


PARKING: KV does not have a lot of parking and they are winning this year so Lowell people want to get there a little early. KV and Andrean are the smallest schools Lowell faces and, obviously, the parking lots reflect the size of the school.
For some reason, I always underestimate the distance between Lowell and KV. If you roll up at the last minute, you mght have to walk a little.
There's been summer constructionon I-65 as well so the old two-ane road north and south on 231 (to and from Route 2) through the farms might be the better choice.


WHAT's AT STAKE: This is a big game. This is the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) opener and the 'Milk Can' game. Some might say the league standings are more important but lets not underestimte the value of a three decade old piece of dairy equipment, symbolic of Jasper County-South Lake County football supremacy.
KV is a 1970 conslidatin of DeMotte and Wheatfield (the smaller town east of DeMotte wherr the school is located) high schools and they are realative newcomers to high school football since the school is not yet 50 years old. Lowell has been playing prep football since the late 1800s and thy own a 23-4 lead in the short all-time series. KV did win 17-12 in Lowell on 2014, breaking a 27-year Lowell head-to-herad win streak.
This game is probably a bigger for the Kougars than it is for Lowell. No one fremmebers when the Kougars last beat Lowell in Jasper County, The Devils are is undefeated and ranked in the state's Top-5 in Class 4A and have won this game 35-7 and 35-0 the last two seasons. Lowell and county ricva Renssealer are probably the teams that KV most wants to defeat.

Kankakee Valley Update:

KV has won three games in a row for the first time in three years and they will pose a challenge to the Devils' high-rated defense. The Kougars started six sophomores last season and broke out a new offense. Senior quarterback Nick Schonveld (6-2, 180) threw for 1,100 yards and receiver Dylan Parker (5-7, 145) caught 45 passes for a school-record 646 yards. The fact that 646 yards is the all-time school pass receiving single season record suggests that KV, much like Lowell, has traditionally been a running team.

Schoonved (25 of 45, 418 yards and six TDs) was 10 of 16 last week for 160 yards and two TDs, 40 yards to Wade Williams (6-6, 205) and 47 yards to Jason Grace (5-11, 140). Schoonveld also ran the ball 17 times for 70 yards, which suggests they use a lot of run-pass option plays to let their most experienced player make a play. For the season Schoonveld has run 47 times for 258 yards. Which means, Nick Schoonveld keeps the ball or throws it over 20 times a game.

The Kougar offensive lne, led by Matt Smundin (6-5, 274) and Logan Ammon (5-11, 277) should be a challenge for the very fast Lowell defenders. Donald Nannega (5-7, 165) never leaves the field for KV as a running back-safety and he leads the defense with linebacker Randy Sneed (6-0, 190). The Kougars have allowed more than 20 points three times in four games and they gave up 300 yards rushing to 2A No. 4 Rensselaer in a 27-13 loss last month. In that game Schoonved was 9-of-14 for just 94 yards with two interceptions and the Bombers ran for 250 yards.

The Kougars have to find a balanced attack that will hurt the Devils and not leave their defense on the field too much. Which is a round about way of saying that KV very much has a need to play with the lead.

Kankakee Valley (3-1)
3-8 (2016), 4-6 (2015), 6-5 (2014), 4-6 (2013)
Coach Zach Prairie (2nd season, 6-9) Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) games in CAPS

8-18 (L) 13-27 at (2A) Rensselaer (4-0)
8-25 (L) 31-22 at (3A) Wheeler (2-2)
9-1 (W) 50-20 (4A) Hammond (2-0)
9-8 (W) 17-12 (2A) North Newton (1-3)

9-15 (F) 4A LOWELL (4-0)
9-22 (F) at 4A HOBART (3-1)
9-29 (F) at 3A ANDREAN (3-1)
10-6 (F) 4A HIGHLAND (2-2)
10-13 (F) 4A MUNSTER (1-3)

Class 4A Sectional 18
with New Prairie, Mishawaka, Hobart plus South Bend schools Washington, Riley, Clay and St. Joseph's.

KOUGAR SCHEDULE: KV's nonconference schedule is a little softer than their league games, although the county rivalry with 2A power Rensselaer is a must-play game. KV's league schedule is tougher than their nonconference schedule and their sectional is tougher than their league schedule. That's not really what you want. Except for Wheeler, the Kougars' first three games (Lowell, North Newton and Rensselaer) are all natural rivals that they should always play. When Griffith left the NCC, KV replaced them with Wheeler. I wonder if they'd rather have somebody like Benton Central on the schedule, from a fan draw standpoint.

As the southern-most school in the NCC, I wonder if they'd rather play teams south of Jasper County, as opposed to adding another Lake County school.

LOWELL (4-0)
9-5 (2016), 12-1 (2015), 8-5 (2014), 6-4(2013)
Coach Keith Kilmer (8th season, 55-29) Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) games in CAPS

8-18 (W) 27-13 (6A) Crown Point (2-2)
8-25 (W) 20-7 at (6A) Portage (2-2)
9-1 (W) 19-0 at (4A) Morton (2-2)
9-8 (W) 63-6 (3A) Clark (0-4)

9-15 (F) at 4A KANKAKEE VALLEY (3-1)
9-22 (F) 4A HIGHLAND (2-2)
9-29 (F) at 5A MUNSTER (1-3)
10-6 (F) 3A ANDREAN (3-1)
10-13 (F) at 4A HOBART (3-1)

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

DEVIL SCHEDULE: Lowell obviously didn't plan this, but I like the idea of the first half (or so) of the schedule being nonconference and the final five weeks being Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) play. There's a great 'second chance' aspect to it. If an NCC team is 0-4, they have a chance to wipe that slate clean with a league win in week five. Lowell appears to have five quality games lined up for the final five weeks. Only Munster (1-3) is under .500 and they almost always prove to be a tough foe no matter what their record is. In the final five weeks the only sectional rival Lowell faces is Highland, which is fine. I would rather not play a sectional foe in the second half of the regular season.

LOWELL Update:

Lowell has won four games by 10 points or more and they were able to play the entire bench last week against Clark. Even though it was the Pioneers (0-4), it was good to see Lowell put some points on the board. Lowell was 9-5 last year, but they scored 30 or more points nine times. Last week was the first Red Devil 30-point (or more) game of the 2017 regular season. Watch the kickoffs Friday night. Lowell has run four kicks back for touchdowns already this season. In 14 games in 2016, they ran three kicks back for scores.

Lowell has traditionally began the season slowly, but they are 36-7 since the start of the 2007 regular season in the month of September. Lowell did rush for 312 yards last week on 50 carries against Clark, but they'd like to do that against a good team. Lowell has just 662 yards rushing in four games and they have not dominated time-of-possession.

QB Ethan Igras (15 of 254, 304 yards, 3 TDs, 2 interceptions) has run 20 times for 141 yards, but the Red Devils do not have a 100-yard game from any running back yet this season. Defensively, Lowell has not allowed a running back to gain 100 yards as of yet and they have given up just 487 yards total in four games. And those numbers are better than they look because, due to Lowell's inability to run the ball consistently and their quick strikes on kick returns, the defense has been on the field more than in past seasons.



At KV Stadium: Capacity 2,500

Sagarin computer ratings: 
Lowell by 25.

The gap here is caused by the different schedules. Lowell has defeated two Class 6A schools while KV, a 4A school, is facing a 4A school for just the second time this season. KV is allowing 20 points a game and the Devils have won all four games so far by 10 points or more so a spread of 25 is not surprising.


WHEATFIELD (09-15-2017) Kankakee Valley has a confusing track record so far. They have scored 50 points on Hammond, but just 17 against North Newton. But they should be primed for the effort of the year Friday, so I think this game is scoreless after one quarter. Lowell takes the lead on a short pass from Ethan Igras to Jordan Jusevitch in the second quarter. An interception by Tucker Greenholt leads to a short TD run by Igras for a 14-0 lead.

The Kougars quarterback Nick Schoonveld throws a TD toss to tall Wade Williams to make it 14-7. The Devils move the ball better on this night, but a few drives stall with no points. A second interception sets up a third Lowell TD, a short run by Jusevitch for a 20-7 lead. But KV comes back with a short run from Donald Nannega and the Kougars have a chance to tie in the fourth quarter.

But a third interception is run back for a TD by Jaeger Gill and Lowell gets out of town with the win. KV has a good secondary and, at home, they can frustrate Lowell's offense. The Kougars have to throw it to win and, while they'll give it a good try (20-25 passes) on a warm night, that's risky against the Devils. Lowell gets three turnovers and wins the Northwest Crossroads Conference opener.

LOWELL 27, Kankakee Valley 14

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Revised: September 15, 2017 .