Week 7 -  Football Game of the Week Preview

4A No. 1 Lowell (6-0) at Munster (2-4)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


The end zone is the goal this Friday night in Munster. Lowell didn't allow a point last week against Highland. Munster didn't score a point against Andrean last Friday. The Mustangs host Lowell this Friday night. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When: 7:00 p.m., CDT on Friday, September 29, 2017
Where: Munster High School, 8118 Columbia (Columbia is one block east of Calumet Ave.), Munster, IN.
Tickets: $6
TV/Radio/Internet: WTMK (88.5) FM live, live updates of all local scores all night on
WLPR (89.1) FM.

Enrollment: Munster 1,504, LOWELL - 1,210.

Weather:  The heat wave is over. No more 90-degree football days. The daytime high Friday of about 72 and game time temperatures in the mid-60s. I've always thought that the perfect temperature for daytime football (for players) in the sun is about 55 degrees and 60-65 for night games. We're getting back there.


Parking: Munster high school is on the west side of Columbia Ave and Munster's football field is on the east side. Most of the parking is next to the high school. You'll probably have to wait for some traffic and walk across the street to the front gate.

One travel note: Don't even think about zipping down I-65 to the Borman Expressway and speeding west to Munster.
You'll be listening to the game on the radio. A good hunk of I-65 is under construction from Lowell north to Crown Point and is down to one lane at times. And the Borman Expressway has been cut down to three lanes going west (for 'summer' construction) from I-65 since March. Don't ask me how I know.

This is Munster's final home game of the season, so even though it hasn't been a great season for the Mustangs, there should be a good home crowd. Also, the top-ranked team in the state (that's Lowell, folks) coming to town is a big football deal.


WHAT'S AT STAKE: Munster is technically not out of the race for the Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) title with a 1-1 record after two games. But they would have to beat Lowell and then defeat Hobart (5-1) at Hobart next week to have a chance.

Even though they are no longer sectional rivals (Munster is 5A, Lowell is 4A) these schools have been league rivals going back to the old Lake Suburban Conference (1970-1991).

Forgetting what rivalry there may or may not be between Lowell and Munster, it's always a big thing when you host an undefeated top-ranked team in any sport.

Us old folks remember that 24 years ago, Lowell was 10-0 on November 5 when they lost 28-14 at Munster. Munster people might recall that more favorably than Lowell people do.


Munster Update:

Munster's four TD loss to Andrean last week was surprisingly decisive. The Mustangs were coming off a decisive win over neighbor Highland and seemed to have a potent offense. But four turnovers made the Mustangs a big loser.

Against Highland, Munster halfback Dylan Bullock (6-0, 160) ran the ball 18 times for 211 yards and three touchdowns. Senior QB Vince Bravo is going to be throwing or handing the ball to Bullock all night. And when Bullock doesn't get the ball, wingback Raheem Butler (5-8, 170) will. Butler (72 carries, 390 yards) has scored a TD in four different games, but he was held to 48 yards on just seven carries last week. Not sure if he got hurt or if the game, a 34-0 loss, just got out of hand.

Munster's passing attack has been somewhat challenged. Bravo (6-1, 185) is 26 of 66 for 368 yards and three touchdowns.

Defensively, linebacker Brandon Baker (6-3, 185) has good mobility and Bravo is also a defensive back. The question for Munster is: Can they find things that work against Lowell's defense. The Mustangs have faced only one team with a winning record: Andrean. And they got shut out. Munster scored 14 points against Lake Central. Every other team Lake Central has played has scored 40 points or more.

The Mustangs have to run the ball on a team that has given up 247 yards rushing all year. This might not be the best match up for Munster, but the Mustangs lead the all-time series 34-17 and Munster, at one time, beat Lowell 26 years in a row. Munster has a long history of defeating good Lowell teams.

Munster (2-4)
6-6 (2016), 5-5 (2015), 7-3 (2014), 7-3 (2013)
Coach LeRoy Marsh (39th season, 226-164)
Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) games in CAPS

8-18 (L) 14-33 (6A) Lake Central (1-5)
8-25 (L) 21-33 at (6A) Chesterton (2-4)
9-1 (W) 35-13 (4A) East Chicago (2-4)
9-8 (L) 16-24 (4A) Morton (4-2)
9-15 (L) at (4A) HIGHLAND (2-4)
9-22 (F) at (4A) ANDREAN (4-2)
9-29 (F) 4A LOWELL (6-0)
10-6 (F) 4A HOBART (5-1)
10-13 (F) at 4A KANKAKEE VALLEY (3-3)

Class 5A Sectional 5
with Michigan City, (South Bend) Adams and Michigan City

MUSTANG SCHEDULE: Munster is a 5A school, so they open with two 6A schools. I think they'd probably like to swap out East Chicago for a 6A play pal. Morton and Lake Central are teams I think Munster wants to always face. I've always heard that Munster would like to play Crown Pont in nonconference play and that it would be a popular game for both schools. When CP had an opening recently, they chose Highland.

But I think someday, Munster will open the season with Lake Central and Crown Point.

(4A) LOWELL (6-0)
9-5 (2016), 12-1 (2015), 8-5 (2014), 6-4(2013)
Coach Keith Kilmer (8th season, 57-29)
Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) games in CAPS

8-18 (W) 27-13 (6A) Crown Point (3-3)
8-25 (W) 20-7 at (6A) Portage (4-2)
9-1 (W) 19-0 at (4A) Morton (4-2)
9-8 (W) 63-6 (3A) Clark (1-5)
9-15 (W) 27-13 at (4A) KANKAKEE VALLEY (3-3)
9-22 (W) 27-0 (4A) HIGHLAND (2-4)

9-29 (F) at 5A MUNSTER (2-4)
10-6 (F) 3A ANDREAN (4-2)
10-13 (F) at 4A HOBART (5-1)

Class 4A Sectional 17

with Clark, Highland, Griffith, Gavit, East Chicago, Gary West Side and Morton.

DEVILS SCHEDULE: Lowell began the season with wins over Crown Point and Portage, two big school teams that are alive and kicking late in the season. I do not know exactly how Lowell got Hobart on the schedule to finish the regular season but that's going to be a very popular game for both teams. Both sides will be ranked in the Top-10 this year. But even if they weren't, Hobart and Lowell are not in the same sectional so there's no chance they'll open the playoffs against each other. Also, it's a traditional game. I would argue that the Lowell teams of the last 25 years carried the same style and success of the Hobart teams of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Closing the season with Andrean (as Lowell has the last 10 years) was a very good game for the Devils. But from a competitive standpoint, to end the year with two strong programs that are not sectional opponents is a very good slice of schedule.

Lowell's 6-0 starts since 1900

1935: This is the unknown Lowell team. Under coach Jim Carter, these pre-World War II Devils ruled the region, outscoring all nine foes 215-38. Opening the season with back-to-back wins over Frankfort and Rensselaer by the identical score of 7-6. Lowell topped CP twice 36-0 and 25-0. When the Devils defeated Valparaiso 37-0 on November 8, the final game with Whiting on Nov. 15 was cancelled. Probably just as well. This Lowell team had four shutouts and held all nine opponents to 13 points or less. The long since forgotten 1935 Devils (9-0) are in the Lowell Hall-of-Fame and, to this day, still stand tall as Lowell's only unbeaten and untied varsity football team.

1946: Long ago in a strange land called Lowell, the 1946 Devils turned back Griffith 19-7, Crown Point 18-0 and Hobart 7-6 to start the year. The Devils then edged South Bend St. Joseph's 7-6 and Rensselaer 25-7. Keep in mind, there was no Highland, Andrean, Kankakee Valley or even Lake Central in those days. Lowell rolled over Merrillville 45-19 to go 6-0 and they then defeated Crown Point again 13-6. The Devils played Crown Point twice a year from 1934 to 1952. Lowell seemed headed for an unbeaten season when they rolled over Crete, Ill. (the forerunner of what is now Crete - Monee) by a 51-0 score. On Nov. 2, 1946, Lowell lost 12-6 to Bishop Noll and finished the season with an 8-1 record. Of course, there were no state playoffs in those days.

1993: The 1993 Lowell team went 10-0 and held all ten victims to 14 points or less. This was back in the days when the Devils played in the Northwest Hoosier conference with North Judson, JV and North Newton. The wins over KV were 26-14 and 16-14 so the Devils were looking at a high hurdle when Munster headed south for the sectional semifinals. Lowell had topped the Mustangs 9-7 in the sectional championship game the year before in a major upset. Munster ended Lowell's 1993 season with a solid 28-14 victory and the Devils ended up at 10-1.

1999: This dominant Lowell team started the season 7-0 before losing 7-3 at Munster. The Devils won a classic cold weather playoff game 20-17 at Highland in overtime and they nipped rival Griffith 17-14 for the sectional championship. In one of the Devils' great victories, Lowell topped McCutcheon and future major league baseball player Clayton Richard (Richard passed for 10,000 yards as a high school quarterback) 38-20 to win the regional championship in Lowell. One week later, 100 miles away in Goshen, Lowell lost the school's first-ever semistate game 24-6 to Goshen's Redskins.
Lowell rode the long, slow bus home with a 12-2 record.

2000: The Devils shut out three of their first six opponents, but barely escaped 39-36 at Griffith in week six. Some of the nonconference foes back then were a little different. Lowell topped Lake Station 76-0 (that was the last time they played Lake Station) and the Devils nipped Twin Lakes 7-0. That was the last time Lowell faced Twin Lakes, too. The 2000 Red Devil season did not end anywhere near as well as it began. In week eight, Munster topped Lowell 7-0 in Munster and the Devils then lost 20-7 at home to Andrean. The Devils lost 7-0 at home to Hammond high in the 4A Sectinal 17 semifinals to finish at 8-3.

2009: This Lowell team began the year outscoring six foes 205-47 but the Devils then lost the eighth game of the year 15-13 at Munster. (Note for this week.) The defeat didn't keep Lowell down for long as the Devils ran over Concord 60-23 and Morton 41-0 in post-season play. The 24-21 semistate win over Bishop Dwenger was one of the programs proudest moments. Lowell finally fell 23-9 to Reitz in the state championship game, finishing with a 13-2 record.

2015: Lowell began the year outscoring six foes 231-71 and the 42-28 win at Portage was misleading because the Indians dropped in two late TDs. Lowell had one close call, a 20-17 overtime win at Munster in week eight. Most Red Devil fans know that Lowell lost the regional championship game at home to South Bend St. Joseph's 7-6 on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 and ended the season with a 12-1 record. Not only do a lot of Lowell fans know about the 2015 team and the St. Joseph's game, some of the boys on the field this Friday in Munster for Lowell were on the field that night.

LOWELL Update:

Lowell posted their second shutout of the season last week, 27-0 over Highland. The last time Lowell shut out more than two teams in the same season was 2007 when they were 13-2. The Devils held Highland to just 67 yards rushing, the fourth times this season they've held a team under 100 yards. Lowell has allowed 39 points in six games, none in the first quarter. QB Ethan Igras (23 of 47, 438 yards, 5 TDs, 2 interceptions) has 14 TD passes and five interceptions in less than two seasons as Lowell's quarterback. Tight end Mitch Wildman (9 catches, 178 yards, 3 TDs) has 529 yards gained and eight TDs on just 27 catches.

Junior defensive end Blake Jansky has 13 quarterback sacks and 32 tackles for losses in less than two seasons. Senior safety Jordan Jusevitch has 13 pass interceptions in the last three seasons.

4A No. 2 LOWELL (6-0) at MUNSTER (2-4)

Munster Pete Nicksic Field: capacity 3,000 (est.)



This gap comes from Lowell's wins over 6A schools Portage and Crown Point, while Munster has lost to two 6A schools Chesterton and Lake Central. Munster has not defeated a winning team this season. Lowell has not trailed all season. This spread seems a little high, but Lowell was favored by 32 last week and they won by 27.


MUNSTER (09-29-2017) The Mustangs will be looking to make Lowell throw the ball even in a season where they have been successful at it. Munster will be a little conservative on offense because of how many turnovers (four) they had last week.

This game will be scoreless for a quarter before Ethan Igras breaks loose on a short TD run. Lowell will get touchdowns on a turnover and a punt return to ease into a comfortable lead.
Munster's TD will be a pass from Vince Bravo to Brandon Baker in the second half, but the Mustangs can't threaten Lowell consistently throwing the ball.

Lowell will get three pass interceptions and one will lead to a Tyler Wildman TD. Munster may go to the back of the playbook here and try some gimmick plays. They won't see Lowell again this year and one big play could get them an early edge that could change everything. But Lowell should be ready. The Devils have lost only two road games in 2-1/2 years.

LOWELL 28, Munster 7

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Revised: September 28, 2017 .