Week 5 -  Football Game of the Week Preview

4A Lowell (2-2) at
4A Kankakee Valley (2-2)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


The Kougars hope to turn up the heat on Lowell when the two rivals meet Friday night in Jasper County. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When:  Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.

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

Tickets:  $6.

Kickoff:   7 p.m.

TV/Radio/Internet: None.

Enrollment: LOWELL - 1,128; Kankakee Valley - 1,075.

WEATHER: A little warm for fans. Fairly unpleasant for players. Daytime highs Friday in the mid-80s and we’ll still be in the mid-70s in the middle of the game. KV has artificial turf now, so at least at the start of the game, this will be the first truly warm game night for the players and they need to prepare accordingly. Players tend to cramp up in the heat in August. You could see some of that on this night.


PARKING: The parking at KV is between the school and the field, fairly close to the stands. I don't know how many people from Lowell will make the trip on this night, even in good weather. In the past, Devils’ fans show up in good numbers here. I believe that KV followers will fill the home stands. Other than Rensselaer, Lowell is KV’s biggest rival and the Kougars are having a good year.


WHAT's AT STAKE: This is a turning point, possibly for both teams. Lowell and KV have both split their first four games and Friday’s matchup is the start of the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) season.

There is no clear favorite in the NCC this fall. Other than Munster (0-4) every other team in the 6-team NCC has a 2-2 record and they all have a chance to win the league championship.

So, not only is this game important in the standings, it will send the winner in the right direction for the final four Fridays. But KV hasn't defeated Lowell in five years. Since no one in the Kougar program has ever beaten Lowell at the varsity level, this is a more significant game to the home team, especially to the KV seniors.


The HISTORY:  Kankakee Valley high school is a 1970 consolidation of the old DeMotte and Wheatfield high schools that dated back into the middle of of the 20th Century in Jasper County.

DeMotte high goes back to 1936.

There is no record of Lowell ever playing DeMotte or Wheatfield, possibly because Wheatfield and DeMotte played 8-man football prior to 1965. Lowell and Kankakee Valley are neighbors and rivals and Lowell's presence was certainly why KV wanted to be in the NCC (they joined in 2007) when the DeMotte area really isn't similar to that of of anyone else in that league.

The winner of this game gets their hands on the ‘Old 'Milk can', a piece of time-worn, painted over farm equipment-turned-traveling trophy' that goes to the winner of this matchup. The ‘can' has spent a lot of time in Lake County. Lowell leads the series 25-4 and the 17-7 KV win at Lowell seven years ago broke a 27-year Lowell win streak in this series.

This series is under-appreciated because football followers in Lake County don't experience it. Northwest Indiana media has a half dozen closer and more convenient choices for broadcast or print coverage.

Local groups that do TV like Regional Radio Sports or the WJOB Network are highly unlikely to carry Lowell vs. KV because of where the schools are. It's hard to make the argument to come down to Jasper County, even for a competitive, spirited matchup.

But this game has been very competitive the last half dozen years. You just have to travel a little bit south to see it.


The 'Distant Replay'...


Devils take out KV 24-6


Team 1 2 3 4 F
Kankakee Valley (8-2) 0 0 0 6 6
LOWELL (5-5) 0 7 0 17 24

Friday, October 20, 2006, 47 degrees in  Lowell, 4A Sectional 9 Quarterfinal

1st Qtr No scoring.
2nd Qtr
LOWELL (7-0) Max Znika, 43-yard run.  53 yards, 4 plays. David Lang kick. 8:22 left. 
3rd QtrNo scoring.
4th Qtr
LOWELL (14-0) Steffan Peck, 50-yard punt return.  Lang kick.  9:31 left.
LOWELL (17-0) Doug Lang, 20-yard field goal.  After Ben Rigby recovered Dustin Wilson's fumble on the kickoff.  7:40 left
LOWELL (24-0)  Jeff Barker, 23-yard run.  33-yard drive, 3 plays.  Lang kick.  5:01 left.
KANKAKEE VALLEY (24-6)  Dustin Wilson, 12-yard run.  75 yard drive, 4 plays.  Pass failed.  2:54 left

TURNOVERS:   KV (2);      LOWELL (0)
TOTAL YARDS:  KV - 170      LOWELL - 332 yards

KV RUSHING (33-98 yards, TD)  Kevin O'Neal (FB) 9-45 yards; Alex Byers (QB) 13-42 yards; Dustin Wilson (HB) 11-11 yards, TD.

LOWELL RUSHING (48-304 yards)  Max Znika (HB) 33-223 yards, TD; Steffan Peck (HB) 12-44 yards; Josh Kuiper (QB) 1-13 yards; Lukas Palmer (WR) 1-1 yard; Jeff Barker (TE) 1-23 yards, TD.

LOWELL PASSING:  Josh Kuiper (QB) 1-2, 28 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs   
KV PASSING: Alex Byers (QB) 6-12, 72 yards, INT; Dustin Wilson (HB) 0-1, 0 yards

- Dustin Wilson (HB) 5-55 yards; Ryan Boezeman (WR) 1-17 yards
LOWELL - Jeff Barker (TE) 1-28 yards


LOWELL (10-20-2006) Kankakee Valley and Lowell have met 29 times, but only twice did they match up in the state tournament. When Lowell won the Class 4A state championship in 2005, they defeated KV 41-6 in the Class 4A Sectional 17 semifinals.

The next year, a lot of the Lowell state title team had graduated, KV was 8-1 during the regular season and the two schools met again to start the playoffs.

This game was supposed to be all about Dustin Wilson, the Kankakee Valley halfback who had scored 34 touchdowns in nine games. But it turned out to focus on Lowell senior Max Znika, who carried 33 times for 223 yards, while Wilson was held to a career-low 11 yards on 11 carries in his final game.

The Devils' swarming run defense dominated the game until Lowell pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Lowell went on to beat Gary Roosevelt 58-6 and Hobart 31-28 to win the sectional championship for a fourth year in a row. The Devils did lose the 2006 regional 33-14 to a Concord team that went 14-1, losing the state title game to Cathedral.

Lowell would go forward to win sectionals in 2007, 2008 and 2009, advancing to the state title game in 2007 and 2009. While the Devils did win state in 2005, it is the seven consecutive sectional championships and 21 sectional game victories in a row, that is the crown jewel of the Lowell football program.

But on a cold night in October 13 years ago, that Red Devil school record sectional streak could have been broken by KV’s all-time leading scorer and one of the Kougars' all-time best teams. It just didn't happen.

2019 (4A) Kankakee Valley (2-2)
2-8 (2018), 3-7 (2017), 3-8 (2016), 4-6 (2015)
Coach James Broyles (2nd year) 4-10.
Northwest Crossroads games in CAPS

8-23 (L) 9-13 at (2A) Rensselaer (4-0)
8-30 (W) 35-21 at (3A) Wheeler (2-2)
9-6 (L) 7-14 (4A) (SB) Washington (3-1)
9-13 (W) 13-12 (2A) North Newton (2-2)

9-20 (Fri.) (4A) LOWELL (2-2)
9-27 (Fri.) at (4A) HOBART (2-2)
10-4 (Fri.) at (2A) ANDREAN (2-2)
10-11 (Fri.) (4A) HIGHLAND (2-2)
10-18 (Fri.) (5A) MUNSTER (0-4)

Class 4A Sectional 18
10-25 (Fri) South Bend schools Riley, Clay and St. Joseph’s. Plymouth, Culver Academy, Logansport and New Prairie.


Kankakee Valley Update:

The Kougars have been strong defensively against good teams, but the offense is still a work in progress.

The defense has good size in veteran linemen Tyler Feddeler (6-0,220), linebackers Reece Williams (6-6, 205) and Will Dyniewski (6-3, 200), who had three QB sacks last week in the win over North Newton.

The quarterback is junior Eli Carden (6-3, 190), who leads a three wide receiver, one back spread attack. Williams and Chace Uylaki (6-2, 160) are tall targets. Markus Riche (6-0, 150) seems to be the main target for Carden.

Running back Nate Swafford (5-9, 175) carried 21 times for 83 yards last week in the 13-12 win over North Newton and 25 times for 114 in the 14-7 loss to South Bend Washington in week three.

It should be noted North Newton did outgain KV 307-220 in the Kougar win and the Kougars didn't gain 200 yards against Washington.

This is a team seemingly built to play low-scoring games. The defense is big and experienced. The Kougars try to break a big pass play once in awhile, but look at Swafford’s numbers. He’s carried the ball 46 times the last two weeks. This is a conservative team that spreads out your defense so they can run the ball.

2019 (4A) LOWELL (2-2)
10-3 (2018), 14-1 (2017), 9-5 (2016), 12-1 (2015)
Coach Keith Kilmer (8 years, 76-35) NCC Conference games in CAPS
8-23 (W) 21-19 vs. (6A) Crown Point (2-2)
8-30 (L) 9-35 at (6A) Portage (1-3)
9-6 (L) 23-35 at (4A) Morton (3-1)
9-13 (W) 42-28 (4A) Griffith (0-4)
9-20 (Fri.) vs. (4A) at KANKAKEE VALLEY (2-2)
9-27 (Fri.) vs. (4A) HIGHLAND (2-2)
10-4 (Fri.) at (5A) MUNSTER (0-4)
10-11 (Fri.) vs. (3A) ANDREAN (2-2)
10-18 (Fri) at (4A) HOBART (2-2)

Class 4A Sectional 17

10-25 (Fri) quarterfinal vs. Griffith, East Chicago, Gavit, Morton, Highland, Gary West Side and Hobart.


LOWELL Update:

What steps out at you on the offensive side of the stat sheet from last Friday’s 42-28 win over Griffith is a season-high 12 rushing first downs and a season high 252 yards rushing on 53 carries. Junior Adam Bank (5-8, 160) carried 25 times for 99 yards and three touchdowns and Jeff Wallis (5-10 174) gained 70 yards on eight carries. Sophomore Ryan Marx (5-7, 155) picked up 35 yards on five carries. Soph QB Johnny Johnson (5-7, 148) scored his first varsity TD and gained 28 yards on five carries.

It was a promising night for the running attack.

What steps out at you on the defensive stat sheet is 7 of 23 passing from Griffith’s Carson Crowe, but two TDs including an 83-yarder in the third quarter. Lowell has allowed eight passing TDs and 23 passing first downs in four games. The Devils have allowed seven TDs of 30 yards or more and that is a major concern, because it suggest the Devils are just being outrun by team after team.

Jacob Chandler out ran everybody for an 87-yard kickoff return TD and senior Nate Gard was 6-of-6 on extra points.

Lowell needs a good start on the road this week. They trailed 28-0 at the half at Portage and 21-10 at the half at Morton. The Devils know they can't be down 10 or more at the half on the road and expect to win anything.



At Fred Jones Field: Capacity 2,000

Sagarin computer ratings: 

Lowell is favored by less than a point which makes this game even for our purposes here. KV’s losses are to Class 2A Rensselaer (4-0) and Class 4A Washington (3-1). The fact that Lowell has faced two Class 6A schools isn't helping them here because neither CP or Portage has a winning record. For the record, Lowell was favored by 18 over Griffith last week and they won by 14.


WHEATFIELD (09-20-2019) If KV looks at last week’s Lowell game film, they will see a team that ran the ball on 53 of 60 offensive plays. If they go back to the opener with Crown Point, they will see three Lowell TD passes in the first half.

I think the Kougars are vulnerable against the pass and Cameron Stojancevich will connect for TDs to John Alessia and Jeff Wallis.

The Kougars cut it to seven at the half on a TD run by quarterback Eric Carden. Then the game becomes a field goal fest and the Devils get the edge. Nate Gard boots three second half field goals to offset a Carden to Markus Richie TD toss.

The Devils gained confidence last week, and facing a team that has struggled to score most of the year, Lowell will pass early and run late to get back across the Jasper County line with a league win.

LOWELL 23, Kankakee Valley 14

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Revised: September 18, 2019 .