Week 7 -  Football Game of the Week Preview

Munster (1-5) at Lowell (5-1)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


Kids like the flame-throwing scoreboard at Lowell which 'fires up' after every touchdown. 'Old smoky' hasn't been heating up too often this fall as Lowell has only scored 51 points in three home games so far. (Photo by Mark Smith)

When: 7:00 p.m., CDT on Friday, September 28, 2018
Where: Lowell High School, 3 miles west of I-65 on US Route 2.
Tickets: $6
TV/Radio/Internet: WTMK (88.5) FM live.

Enrollment: Munster 1,504; LOWELL - 1,186.

Weather:  Low-60s for the start. Low 50s by the end… Cold for fans, but perfect for the players. I’d like to see a run of Friday nights like this. Lowell won't get a week off between the regular season and the playoffs so they don’t need summer heat beating them down all week. The natural grass at Lowell starts to get chewed up a little by this point in the season, but no rain is forecast for Thursday and Friday so the field should be OK. This night is going to feel different. The colder conditions will suggest it's late in the season.


Parking: It's been a tough year for Munster, so I don’t think a big crowd is coming. The Devils have been unlucky from a box office standpoint this season because none of the visiting schools have brought a good crowd so far. That trend will continue this Friday, but that just means more room for Lowell folks.


WHAT'S AT STAKE: Lowell is 2-0 in a 5-game Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) season, so they need this game to help win the conference. Lowell is the defending NCC champion. Munster doesn’t have a lot to play for this week. They are 0-2 in league play and they are not facing a sectional rival. Lowell is 4A and the Mustangs are a 5A school.
Munster is certainly being challenged this week after the loss to Andrean. The Mustangs have Andrean (5-1), Lowell (5-1) and Hobart (5-1) in back-to-back-to-back weeks. They have little to gain, but nothing to lose.


The HISTORY: Munster football made a major change this fall as head varsity coach Leroy Marsh ended his run of 38 seasons with a record of 222-160. It was a big deal. Munster had only had one other coach, John Friend who was 104-31-4) from 1966 to 1979.

I don't know if Marsh wished to retire and I don’t know how well the coaching change was received. Nothing against new coach Jason Grunewald, but I wonder if the Mustangs lost some players who grew up expecting to play for him.

I always thought that Munster was a great place to play high school football, so I’m surprised to read that Munster only has 40 varsity players (plus only 15 freshmen) and had to cancel their junior varsity season. Munster has one advantage that Lowell does not.
Munster is a Class 5A school and 5A teams get a bye week after the regular season. If Munster get the right draw and has two good weeks of practice, they’ll be playing Michigan City for the sectional championship.

In the long view, Munster obviously has to re-start their program. An affluent 1,500 student school has to have more than 15 freshman come out for football. They need a spark. Something that can create some excitement about boys wanting to be Mustang football players.

A sectional title. Or maybe just a win over a highly-rated Lowell team.

(4A) Munster (1-5)
4-6 (2017), 6-6 (2016), 5-5 (2015), 7-3 (2014)
Coach Jason Grunewald (1st year) 1-5 all NCC games in CAPS

8-17 (L) 3-10 at (6A) Lake Central (2-4)
8-24 (L) 0-31 (6A) Chesterton (1-5)
8-31 (W) 48-24 at (4A) East Chicago (3-3)
9-7 (L) 13-25 (4A) at Morton (4-2)
9-14 (L) 20-30 (4A) HIGHLAND (3-3)
9-21 (L) 0-52 (3A) ANDREAN (5-1)
9-28 (Fri) at (4A) LOWELL (5-1)
10-5 (Fri) (4A) HOBART (5-1)
10-12 (Fri) (4A) KANKAKEE VALLEY (2-4)

5A Sectional 9
10-19 (Fri) vs. South Bend Adams, LaPorte and Michigan City



I was surprised to read that Munster was forced to cancel the junior varsity season due to lack of numbers. Munster reportedly has 45 players in the upper three grades and just 15 football playing freshmen, a low number for a 1,500-teen school. But low numbers may not hurt them against Lowell, which has a 44-man varsity roster.

Munster has shuffled its quarterbacks with senior Javaughn Richards (37 of 76, 445 yards) getting the most time. Richards didn’t play QB at all as a junior. Nick Eng (11 of 35, 186 yards) may also get in this game. Munster’s best player appears to be receiver/defensive back Luke Forszt (6-0, 160) who has caught 20 passes for 331 yards in four games. Forszt caught 13 passes for 181 yards in the 30-20 loss to Highland on September 14 and he has three of the Mustangs’ six pass interceptions as free safety on defense.

The top running back is speedy Trevor Maul (5-7, 140) who has 431 yards and two TDs on 79 carries. Junior fullback Michael Dywan (6-0, 205) gets the call near the goal line and on short yardage plays. He has run 35 times for 152 yards and three TDs.

Defensively, Dywan doubles as a linebacker and leads the Mustangs with 56 tackles. Junior linebacker Jaedon Barrientez (6-1, 170) has 31 solo tackles. Senior Jelani Walker (6-1, 180) has 27 tackles in six games. Big Anthony Moore (6-3, 290) is a two-way lineman and two-year starter Fred Jumonville (6-0, 240) is the center and a defensive tackle. Watch even a little video of Munster and Jumonville stands out at center.

Sophomore kicker Ethan Orange has booted a 36-yard field goal, but junior Dawson Ginaven handles kickoffs and punts. Ginaven averages 35.6 yards per punt.

One statistical oddity: Munster has scored 12 TDs this fall and three of them have been interception returns.

Munster has at least five players playing both offense and defense, but on what is predicted to be a much cooler night than we’ve had all season, that may not matter.


Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC)
1. ANDREAN (2-0) 5-1
2. LOWELL (2-0) 5-1
3. Highland (1-1) 3-3
4. Hobart (1-1) 5-1
5. Kankakee Valley (0-2) 2-4
6. Munster (0-2) 1-5

Andrean 52, Munster 0
Hobart 31, Kankakee Valley 6
LOWELL 7, Highland 0

Andrean (5-1) at Kankakee Valley (2-4)
Highland (3-3) at Hobart (5-1)
Munster (1-5) at LOWELL (5-1)

Hobart (5-1) at Munster (1-5)
Kankakee Valley (2-4) at Highland (3-3)
LOWELL (5-1) at ANDREAN (5-1)


NCC UPDATE: Obviously if Lowell and Andrean do not lose this Friday, they will meet for a half-share of the league title next week. There could be an upset, but Lowell has defeated Munster six years in a row while Andrean has defeated KV nine years in a row.

Can't forget the Brickies. Hobart gets a half-share of the NCC championship if the Brickies defeat Highland Friday, Lowell defeats Andrean on September 28 and Hobart then beats Lowell on October 5.

(4A) LOWELL (5-1)
14-1 (2017) 9-5 (2016), 12-1 (2015), 8-5 (2014)
Coach Keith Kilmer (8 years, 70-31) NCC Conference games in CAPS

8-17 (W) 17-7 at (6A) Crown Point (2-4)
8-24 (L) 3-7 (6A) Portage (4-2)
8-31 (W) 38-0 (4A) Morton (4-2)
9-7 (W) 51-0 at (3A) Clark (2-4)
9-14 (W) 13-10 (4A) KANKAKEE VALLEY (2-4)
9-21 (W) 7-0 (4A) at HIGHLAND (3-3)
9-28 (Fri) (5A) MUNSTER (1-5)
10-6 (Fri) (3A) at ANDREAN (5-1)
10-13 (Fri) (4A) HOBART (5-1)

Class 4A Sectional 17

10-20 (Fri) vs. East Chicago, Griffith, Gary West Side, Morton, Gavit, Hammond or Highland.
10-27 (Fri.) sectional semifinals
11-3 (Fri) Sectional 17 championship


LOWELL Update:

LOWELL – Lowell allowed 103 points all last season in 15 games, just 6.8 per game. That’s the lowest average allowed by any Lowell defense since coach Les Klein’s 1968 Red Devils (8-2) allowed 64 points (6.4) in 10 games.

I thought there was no way the 2018 defense would come close to those averages. But wait a minute. After six games, Lowell has allowed just 24 points. They have held the first six foes to less than 10 points and the Devils have three shutouts. I realize they haven’t played Andrean (which averages 39 points per game) yet, but the Lowell defense is the surprise of the year. Only three schools in the state: Class 1As Southwood (19) and Covenant Christian (22) and Class 2A Eastern (19) have allowed fewer points than Lowell so far this fall.

The Devils' success is based on the defensive front led by tackle Chandler Austgen (6-2, 283), end Blake Jansky (6-0, 198) and linebacker Mike Langen (5-10, 215), a combination that has proven difficult to block. Jansky has 9.5 sacks coming off the edge and Austgen has eight tackles for loss in the middle. Langen has four sacks and 28 tackles.

The Devils aren’t big overall, but they do have speed and the all-new (from 2017) secondary has allowed 704 yards passing (117 per game) but just one TD pass.

Lowell’s offense has been inconsistent, to be kind. The Devils have scored just enough to win and on 1,129 yards rushing (188 per game) in six games. Lowell has obviously been hurt because three-year starter Ethan Igras has been hurt. Igras (5-9, 180) broke his hand in the first game of the season and has been limited to playing defense (with a cast) since then. Junior John Alessia filled in last week with 61 yards rushing in nine carries but he’s not the passer Igras is. Halfback Tyler Wildman (5-9, 145) has been a very large part of the Devils’ attack with 604 yards rushing on 144 attempts.

I know you are waiting for me to tell you when Igras will be able to resume his quarterbacking duties. I don’t know. Could be this week. Not only would that bring back an all-area player at QB, it would free up Alessia to go back to wide receiver, free safety and punt returner, all positions he played in the season opener against Crown Point, but stepped away from once he became the QB.

When Igras, who threw for over 2,000 yards and 22 TDs combined in the last two seasons, returns, it will be a lot easier to tell how good this Lowell team really is. Igras is actually Lowell’s largest running back. He ran 131 times for 604 yards last season. With victories by scores of 13-10 and 7-0 the last two weeks, Lowell obviously knows they need more offense.

Junior kicker Nate Gard has continued to excel with 15 of 15 on extra point kicks and six field goals in 12 attempts.

MUNSTER (2-4) at
LOWELL (5-1)

Lowell stadium 'The Inferno': capacity 2,500



Obviously, Lowell has won most all their games and Munster has lost five of six. Lowell defeated Highland, who beat Munster. Lowell also defeated Lake Central, who beat Munster. The Devils have been a little over-valued on the computer this fall. I believe the computer assumes teams are at full strength and Lowell is not. For the record, Lowell was predicted to win by 12 on the computer last Friday and they won 7-0.


LOWELL (09-28-2018) Two weeks ago, the Mustangs lost by 10 to the arch-rival Highland Trojans and there was no ‘bounce back’ last week. Munster lost by 52 points to Andrean. Lowell has had to go hard to scratch out 20 points in the last two games, so this will be another low-scoring game.

Lowell gets 200 yards rushing and only turns it over one time on a fumble. Munster tries to attack through the air with Vaughn and Forszt with some success. Munster has been shut out twice. Lowell has shut out three of the last four teams they’ve played.

On this night, the Mustangs break through for a first half TD, but the Devils collect two turnovers, two rushing TDs and two field goals by Nate Gard to win. Lowell stays tied for first place in the conference with two league games to play.

LOWELL 20, Munster 7

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Revised: September 27, 2018 .