Alessia's two 2nd-half TDs lead Red Devils to come from behind 21-14 win over KV

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith

9-25-2019

 

Lowell's captains, Jeffrey Wallis (13), John Alessia (20), Chris Bozak (11) and Trevor Matovina (72) come to the center of the field for the pre-game coins toss. 
(All photos by Mark Smith)
Some sat and some stood in the sunset at the start of the KV-Lowell game in Wheatfield last Friday.
Lowell QB Cam Stojancevich (17) gets past KV's Cade Caps (14) in the Devils game at Kankakee Valley.
Kougar QB Eli Carden (11) passed the Kougars to two early TDs against Lowell last Friday.
Lowell's Spencer Barta (42) does some wrestling with KV running back Nate Swafford (42) who carried the ball 23 times for 70 yards.
Lowell sophomore linebacker Andrew Juszczak (40) keeps an eye on Kougar running back Nate Swafford (42) in first half action at KV.
Trevor Matovina (72) and Jacob Chandler (32) lead the blocking for Lowell QB Cameron Stojancevich (17) at KV Friday.
The Devils and Kougars play for the 'Old Milk Can' traveling trophy and Lowell has now won the 'can' the last five years.
Lowell's Sam Candler (62) gets set to block for his brother Jacob Chandler (32) at KV Friday.
Lowell wins and the Devils, including Trevor Matovina (72) gather around the 'Old Milk Can' before it gets put on the bus back to Lowell.
It was a game of wide mood swings as is reflected by the Lowell cheerleaders who made the trip to Jasper County to back the boys.
John Alessia had a Jasper County night in September he will definitely remember, scoring the tying and game-winning touchdowns in the Devils' 21-14 win at Kankakee Valley, 09-20-2019. (All photos by Mark Smith)
 

Copyright © 2019 USA-365.com and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: September 26, 2019 .

Team 1 2 3 4 F
LOWELL (3-2, 1-0 NCC) 0 0 14 7 21
Kankakee Valley (2-3, 0-1 NCC) 7 7 0 0 14

Friday, Sept. 20, 2018 - 80 degrees (at kick-off), Northwest Crossroads Conference game at DeMOTTE, Ind.

1st Qtr: KV (7-0) Will Dyniewski, 13-yard pass from Eli Carden. 73-yard drive, 12 plays. Markus Richie kick. 6:03 left.
2nd Qtr: KV (14-0) Coton Wright 67-yard pass from Eli Carden. 68-yard drive, 2 plays. Markus Richie kick. 6:45 left.
3rd Qtr: LOWELL (6-14)
Jacob Chandler, 7-yard run. 59-yard drive, 10 plays. Bad snap. No kick. 5:08 left.
LOWELL (14-14)
John Alessia, 22-yard pass from Cam Stojancevich. Alessia, 2-point pass from Stojancevich. 0:44 left.
4th Qtr:
 LOWELL (21-14) John Alessia, 85-yard punt return. Nate Gard kick. 9:05 left.

STATISTICS:

RUSHING:
LOWELL (34 carries, 97 yards, one TD, no fumbles): Jon Alessia (WR) 1-6 yards; Jeffrey Wallis (HB) 6-16 yards; Cameron Stojancevich (QB) 7-22 yards; Jacob Chandler (HB) 19-51 yards; Chris Bozak (FB) 1-2 yards.

KV (33 carries, 118 yards, 0 TDs, one fumble):
Nate Swafford (RB) 23 caries, 70 yards; Markus Rchie (WR) 1-47 yards; Eli Carden (QB) 9-1 yard

PASSING:
LOWELL: Cameron Stojancevich (QB) 8 of 15, 91 yards one TD, 3 INTs.
KV: Eli Carden (QB) 13 of 21, 223 yards, two TDs, one INT.

RECEIVING:
LOWELL: Jeffrey Wallis (WR) 3-33 yards; John Alessia (WR) 5-53 yards.
KV: Markus Richie (WR) 4-61 yards; Will Dyniewski (RB) 2-28 yards, TD; Reece Williams (RB) 2-24 yards; Aiden Sneed (HB) 2-35 yards; Colton Wright (WR) 1-67 yards, TD; Chace Uylaki (WR) 1-6 yards; Nate Swafford (RB) 1-2 yards.

TOTAL YARDS:
LOWELL: 188 yards, 11 first downs, 3 turnovers;
KV: 341 yards, 12 first downs, one turnover (fumble, blocked kick)


WHEATFIELD (09-20-2019) I had given up at halftime. I can't lie about it. Lowell turned a 14-0 halftime deficit into a 21-14 victory last Friday and I still don't know how it happened.

Kankakee Valley outgained Lowell 148-1 in the first quarter of the two schools’ Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC) football game.
 
That’s 148 yards to one.

The second quarter wasn’t any better for the Devils. Two Lowell turnovers. Four passes by KV quarterback Eli Carden all complete for first downs. If the Kougars hadn't missed a 42-yard field goal and if they hadn't fumbled on the Lowell 3-yard line, KV would have had a 24-point lead at halftime.

The Kougars were pushing Lowell around.

It was just like the 35-9 loss at Portage in week two. The Devils were playing very soft.

I’m thinking. This is a miserable night. It's 80 degrees at 8 p.m. 14-0 with no hope. I came to see a game. This isn't a game.

Oh, well. At least KV has a nice new field.

Then the second half started and I sure didn't see the comeback coming. On the third play of the second half, Lowell quarterback Cameron Stojancevich threw his third interception of the game, this one to KV’s Chance Ulayki at the Lowell 40-yard-line.
 
I’m thinking, 'How long is the ride home from Jasper County going to be?'
 
But three plays later, KV (2-3) surprisingly did not punt on 4th-and-10 and an incomplete pass gave the Devils the ball at the 40. Lowell (3-2) got on a roll as three passes from Stojancevich to senior Jeffrey Wallis moved the ball to the KV 7-yard-line where Jacob Chandler scored his third TD of the season to cut the Kougar lead to 14-6.

If there was a turning point, it came three plays later. With KV punting on 4th-and-6, Lowell junior Caleb Miranda blocked the boot with Aaron DuBord recovering at the Kougar 28-yard-line.

Four plays later, a toss into congestion by Stojancevich was caught by John Alessia for a 22-yard TD. The Devils’ two point conversion attempt, another pass from Stojancevich to Alessia tied the game with :44 seconds left in the thrid quarter.

Four plays later, the Kougars punted from midfield and Alessia (6-0, 150) ran an obstacle course down the visitors' sidelines for a spectacular 85-yard touchdown run and an amazing resurrection.

The Devils had scored 21 points in eight minutes and come back from the dark side of a first half devastation to a post-game victory celebration. But what happened? Every play KV ran was working. And then none of them were.

“We made a few minor adjustments on both sides of the ball,” senior Trevor Matovina said.

“Blocking assignments and coverages. I don't know what it is, but it seems that this year we instinctively figure things out at halftime.”

“We’re usually a cover 3 (2 corners and a safety in a zone) team,” said Lowell defensive coordinator TJ Lukasik. “But with the way they run their flood concepts at different levels, it just wasn’t working. So we went ‘zero’. We put Johnny (Alessia) on their No. 2 receivers and the corners were in ‘man’ (man-to-man coverage) and we just went with it.”

I had a theory, maybe just wish fulfillment, that once something went Lowell’s way in the third quarter, the Devils players knew they could somehow come back to win possibly because they’d seen Lowell teams win all their careers and all their lives. Can that be real?

“It's funny you say that,” Lukasik added. “Because we talk about that. Can you quantify it? No. But it has to count for something. It just has to.”

“We’ve been fighting injuries,” Matovina said. “We‘ve had to rely on some younger players. Some JV players. One thing I like about Lowell is that it's a smaller school. We all know each other a little. We all have relationships. I think we (the seniors) know how to lead them (younger players) and how to explain concepts to them.”

Head coach Keith Kilmer said it more plainly.

“We gritted this one out,” he began. “I don't know if we’re the better team, but our work Monday through Thursday paid off because we had a little bit extra in the tank on a hot night. The last six minutes.”

Lowell has given up a TD on the other team’s first possession four times in five games. The Devils have been outscored 84-45 in the first half over five games. But they’re 3-2 on the season.

“Our kids listen,” Kilmer tried to explain.

“They just don't always comprehend right away. It's something we’re going to have to be better at. I think next week at home we’re going to put up a 3 (signaling the 3rd quarter) on the scoreboard at the start of the game.”

“We’re growing. We’re maturing. It's going a little slower than I’d like, but we‘re 1-0 in the NCC. Hats off to KV. They played a great game. They will be a force to be reckoned with.”

This was a memorable Lowell victory and it may have the been the best game of John Alessia’ career. Two touchdowns. A 2-point conversion catch and seven tackles on defense.

“You have to have your seniors step up,” said Kilmer. “And he stepped up. He made plays. John is not a very vocal kid, but he cares. He bleeds Red Devil football. He made big plays.”

Kilmer also suggests that Lowell kids lean on tradition when times get hard.

“We talked about playing Red Devil football. Just doing what we do. This was the first time all year, other than Griffith, that we were playing someone our size. We thought we could win it in the end if we could keep it close.”

KV had offensive linemen like Ivan Wright (6-0, 285), Kyle Boler (6-1, 230) Robby Suczynski (6-0, 250) and Dylan Bolton (6-4, 295). They were crushing the smaller Devils in the first two quarters. But Friday night can do amazing things to boys big and small.

“We just showed heart,” said Lowell junior linebacker Kyler Newcomb, who was a dominant player after halftime finishing with 13 tackles. “Sometimes when you’re going against bigger, stronger teams, you just have to have heart.”

And sometimes I have to forget about quarters one and two and remember what the night can do.

DEVIL NOTES: Lowell played without halfbacks Adam Bank and Ryan Marx, senior linemen Riley Miller, junior Devin Dahlberg and sophomore Ryan Ohlenkamp. Sophomore safety Joseph Heuer was hurt in the first half and did not return.

KV’s newly rededicated Fred Jones field has been remodeled and fitted with artificial turf, including red and white Kougar-colored end zones. A near capacity crowd of about 2,500 watched Friday’s game.

Fred ‘Butch’ Jones was a World War II veteran, KV’s first athletic director and a giant in Jasper County youth athletics. Before becoming KVs first A.D., he coached 6-man football and varsity basketball at the old Wheatfield high school (KV is a 1970 consolidation of the old Wheatfield and DeMotte high schools) in the 1950s and 60s.

Jones’ Wheatfield basketball teams won sectional championships in 1965 and 1967. Jones’ 1958 six-man Wheatfield football team won the ‘mythical’ (decided by vote) state championship in 1958.

This is the 50th anniversary season of Kankakee Valley high school football.

After throwing three interceptions, Lowell's new junior QB Cameron Stojancevich completed 5 of 7 in the third quarter for 64 yards, leading the visitors to two touchdowns.

“We put him in a better position to succeed,” explained coach Keith Kilmer. “We gave him some easier reads. He’s a big strong kid with a strong arm. He’s athletic. We’re still learning how to pass the ball here in Red Devil land.”


CLASS SECTIONAL JOHN HARRELL'S INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RECENT SEASONS
4A 17 E-MAIL CORRECTIONS MAP TO SCHOOL 3-2
TOURNAMENT HISTORY
LOWELL
RED DEVILS
Coach: Keith Kilmer, 78-35 in 10th year at school
DATE OPPONENT CENTRAL TIME OA 23.2, DA 26.2
Aug. 23   Crown Point 6A W 21 19    
Aug. 30 at Portage 6A L 9 35    
Sep. 6 at Hammond Morton 4A L 23 35    
Sep. 13   Griffith 4A W 42 28    
Sep. 20 at Kankakee Valley 4A © W 21 14    
Sep. 27   Highland 4A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 4 at Munster 5A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 11   Andrean 2A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 18 at Hobart 4A © 7:00 pm    
©NORTHWEST CROSSROADS CONFERENCE GAME

CLASS SECTIONAL JOHN HARRELL'S INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RECENT SEASONS
4A 18 E-MAIL CORRECTIONS MAP TO SCHOOL 2-3
TOURNAMENT HISTORY
KANKAKEE VALLEY
KOUGARS
Coach: James Broyles, 4-11 in 2nd year at school
DATE OPPONENT CENTRAL TIME OA 15.6, DA 16.2
Aug. 23 at Rensselaer Central 2A L 9 13    
Aug. 30 at Wheeler 2A W 35 21    
Sep. 6   South Bend Washington 3A L 7 14    
Sep. 13   North Newton 2A W 13 12    
Sep. 20   Lowell 4A © L 14 21    
Sep. 27 at Hobart 4A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 4 at Andrean 2A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 11   Highland 4A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 18   Munster 5A © 7:00 pm    
©NORTHWEST CROSSROADS CONFERENCE GAME

Lowell's next opponent:

CLASS SECTIONAL JOHN HARRELL'S INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RECENT SEASONS
4A 17 E-MAIL CORRECTIONS MAP TO SCHOOL 3-2
TOURNAMENT HISTORY
HIGHLAND
TROJANS
Coach: Pete Koulianos, 7-8 in 2nd year at school, 28-18 in 5th year overall
DATE OPPONENT CENTRAL TIME OA 15.4, DA 15.8
Aug. 23   Hammond Morton 4A W 19 18    
Aug. 30 at Crown Point 6A L 0 24    
Sep. 6 at Thornton Fractional South (Ill.) L 14 34    
Sep. 13   Hammond Gavit 4A W 14 0    
Sep. 20   Munster 5A © W 30 3    
Sep. 27 at Lowell 4A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 4   Hobart 4A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 11 at Kankakee Valley 4A © 7:00 pm    
Oct. 18   Andrean 2A © 7:00 pm    
©NORTHWEST CROSSROADS CONFERENCE GAME

NORTHWEST CROSSROADS
ALL TIMES CENTRAL
  CONFERENCE ALL GAMES
  W-L Pts OP W-L Pts OP Streak
Highland 1-0 30 3 3-  2 77 79 Won 2
Hobart 1-0 33 10 3-  2 118 79 Won 3
Lowell 1-0 21 14 3-  2 116 131 Won 2
Andrean 0-1 10 33 2-  3 126 137 Lost 1
Kankakee Valley 0-1 14 21 2-  3 78 81 Lost 1
Munster 0-1 3 30 0-  5 17 192 Lost 6
Friday, Sep. 20
Highland 30, Munster 3 ©
Hobart 33, Andrean 10 ©
Lowell 21, Kankakee Valley 14 ©
Friday, Sep. 27
Highland at Lowell ©, 7 pm
Kankakee Valley at Hobart ©, 7 pm
Munster at Andrean ©, 7 pm
Friday, Oct. 4
Hobart at Highland ©, 7 pm
Kankakee Valley at Andrean ©, 7 pm
Lowell at Munster ©, 7 pm
©conference game