Week 3 - Football Game of the Week Preview

4A Lowell (1-1) at
4A New Prairie (2-0)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith




When: 6:30 p.m., CDT on Friday, September 3, 2021.

Where: New Prairie High School, 5333 N Cougar Rd, New Carlisle, IN 46552.
TV/Radio/Internet: Region Sports Network – rrsn.com video – 6:30 p.m.

Tickets: $6

Enrollment: LOWELL – 1,107; New Prairie 980.

Other than Kankakee Valley (enrollment: 1,076) this new school on the Lowell schedule as about as close to an equal public school match as you can get. Fir the record, the 1986 IHSAA school directory had New Prairie with 684 students. The 2005 directory listed a total of 879 students for New Prairie.

WEATHER: Cooler, thank Goodness. The long range forecast for Friday says daytime highs in the upper 70s and temperatures in the low 70s at kick-off and upper 60s by the second half. This will help Lowell. The Devils have gone hard to the end twice in two weeks and if they have to do it again Friday, some cool LaPorte County breezes will be welcome.


PARKING: Many of you have been to New Prairie for the annual cross country invitational and the cross country semistate races. So you know that the school is not overloaded with parking space.
If you have never been to New Prairie high school, it’s a good thing this is a Labor Day weekend game so there is still daylight in the late afternoon. The school is near, but not at, the intersection of US 20 and US 2. Don’t be too proud to ask for help on directions. This is not the easiest place to find.


Last Week's Game...
Red Devils come back to beat Portage 26-21 in 2nd half

Team 1 2 3 4 F
LOWELL (1-1) 0 7 6 13 26
PORTAGE (1-1) 7 7 0 7 21

Friday, August 27, 2021 - 85 degrees and partly sunny at kick-off, nonconference in PORTAGE, IN


1st QtrPORTAGE (7-0) Josh Bloom, 40-yard TD pass to Keenan Miller. Bryce Hufford kick.
2nd Qtr: LOWELL (7-7)
Joe Heuer, 22-yard TD run. Chris Jancosek kick.
PORTAGE (14-7)
Devan Howard. 13-yard TD run. Bryce Hufford kick.
3rd Qtr: LOWELL (13-14)
Joe Heuer, 14-yard TD run. Kick wide.
4th Qtr: LOWELL (19-14) Riley Bank, 70-yard TD run. Kick wide.
LOWELL (26-14)
Riley Bank, 16-yard TD run. Chris Jancosek kick.
PORTAGE (26-21)
Sam Bloom 9-yard pass to Elijah Lee. 13-yard TD run. Bryce Hufford kick.


PORTAGE (25 carries, 142 yards, 0 fumbles, one TD): Devan Howard (RB) 15 carries, 142 yards one TD; Josh Bloom (QB) 8 carries minus-2 yards; Jermaine Mead (RB) 1 carry minus-1 yard.
LOWELL (38 carries, 311 yards, 4 TDs): Joe Heuer (HB) 21 carries, 176 yards, 2 TDs; Ryan Marx (HB) 4-29 yards; Riley Bank (QB) 13-106 yards, 2 TDs.
PORTAGE: Josh Bloom (QB) 12 of 25, 167 yards, 2 TDs, 0 interceptions;
LOWELL: Riley Bank (QB) 6 of 12, 27 yards, 0 TDs, no interceptions.

PORTAGE: Colton Wilke (WR) 4-60 yards, TD; Devan Howard (RB) 4-42 yards, Elijah Lee (WR) 1-42 yards, TD; Nathan LaBonte (WR) 2-26 yards;
LOWELL : Johnny Johnson (WR) 4 catches, 21 yards; Ryan Marx (HB) 1-6 yards, James Langen (TE) 1-0 yards

PORTAGE: 309 yards, nine first downs, 0 turnovers;
LOWELL: 338 yards, 12 first downs, 0 turnovers.


The HISTORY: New Prairie high school is a 1968 consolidation of New Carlisle and Rolling Prairie high schools and that's why the school is called New Prairie.

The town of New Carlisle, where New Prairie high school is officially located, is about 15 miles east of LaPorte at the east end of LaPorte County. You can call it suburban South Bend, but the times I passed through, it was a sweet, quiet place like Argos or Nappanee. The town of Rolling Prairie is very small and about five miles east of New Carlisle. Both are worth a drive through if you have the time.

The football program is a lot like Lowell's, although they have not been at it as long. Rolling Prairie high athletics dated back to 1928, while New Carlisle started playing sports in 1933. According to Northern Indiana Fooball.com, the New Carlisle Tigers played football from 1955 to 1967 and they actually beat Penn 14-6 in 1960. From 1960 to 1964, New Carlisle was 38-6-3 (3 tie games) and they defeated neighbor Rolling Prairie five years in a row. The consolidated New Prairie Cougars were fairly good right away, going 8-2 in 1971 and 1972. Coaching has clearly helped.

Coach Bart Curtis (226-112 in 31 years of football), now at Mishawaka, was 84-38 from 1997 to 2007. Coach Russ Radtke (374-147 in 45 years of coaching), now at Knox (but known for years at North Judson and Griffith) won 78 and lost 20 from 2012 to 2019.

New Prairie loves football. They draw good crowds. And they’ll be happy to ‘welcome’ Lowell this Friday.

In two regional final games, Lowell defeated New Prairie 25-20 on Nov. 10, 2017 and New Prairie defeated Lowell 28-27 on November 14, 2014. Both were excellent games and, without knowing this, I would guess that this shared experience of some in the football program from each town may have led to this regular season series.

The 'Distant Replay'...

Regional 4A Title 'slips away' from Lowell
in 28-27 loss at New Prairie

Team 1 2 3 4 F
LOWELL (8-5) 6 7 0 14 27
NEW PRAIRIE (12-1) 7 14 7 0 28

Friday, November 14, 2014 - 23 degrees, dry - Class 4A Regional at NEW CARLISLE, Ind.

1st Qtr: (7-0) Nick Brassell 21-yard TD pass to Drake Dierdorf. Evan King kick. 5:48 left.
LOWELL (7-6)
Ike James 70-yard run. Kick wide. 5:26 left.

2nd Qtr: LOWELL (7-13)
Ike James, 3-yard run. Colton Wilkey kick. 11:55 left.
Nick Brassell 37-yard run. Evan King kick, 4:51 left.
Nick Brassell 40-yard run. Evan King kick, 2:18 left.
3rd Qtr: NEW PRAIRIE (28-13) Nick Brassell 73-yard run. Evan King kick. 11:00 left.
4th Qtr: LOWELL (28-21)
Darion Hornickel. 24-yard pass from Zach Bobos. Darryl Deveaux, 2-point run. 10:08 left.
LOWELL (28-27)
Ike James, 7-yard run. Run failed. 1:19 left.

NEW PRAIRIE (41 carries, 300 yards, 3 TDs, one fumble): Nick Brassell (QB) 17 carries, 204 yards, 3 TDs; Tyler Weller (HB) 16-79 yards; Jordan Peck (HB) 8-17 yards.

LOWELL (43 carries, 297 yards, 3 TDs, 0 fumbles): Ike James (HB) 34 carries, 226 yards, 3 TDs (season: 321 carries, 2,413 yards, 2nd all-time at Lowell); Zach Bobos (QB) 8-57 yards; Austin Giordano (FB) 2-3 yards; Darion Hornickel (QB-WR) 1-11 yards.

NEW PRAIRIE: Nick Brassell (QB) 2 of 4, 36 yards, One TD, no interceptions.
LOWELL: Zach Bobos (QB) 3 of 8, 53 yards, One TD, one interception.

NEW PRAIRIE: Drake Dierdorf (WR) 1-21 yards, TD; Evan King (WR) 1-15 yards.
LOWELL: Darion Hornickel (WR) 1-24 yards, TD; Austin Giordano (FB) 1-6 yards, Jacob Belt (WR) 1-24 yards.

NEW PRAIRIE (1) one fumble; LOWELL (1) one interception.

Austin Giordano (11) and Ike James (32) in the Hobart at Lowell game on 09-27-2014.
(Photo by Mark Smith)

NEW CARLISLE (11-14-2014) Seven years ago, in the dark and in the cold, Lowell played one of their greatest games of the modern era, losing by one point following a failed two-point conversion play.

What I remember about this game was the snow. This mid-November game was almost postponed by six inches of snow on the day before. But the word was that old coach Russ Radtke got his football boys out there to shovel the stadium out so the game could be played Friday night. Fans had to walk through the snow to the shoveled out field.

And it was worth it.

New Prairie quarterback Nick Brassell ran the option as he had all year, scoring four touchdowns. Lowell trailed 7-0 and led 14-7, but the Devils seemed doomed when the Cougars led 28-14 starting the fourth quarter.

Trailing 28-21, the Devils got the ball on a punt at their own 18 yard line with 7:11 left in the final quarter. Backed by the large Lowell portion in a freeze dried total of about 2,000 fans, Lowell drove 82 yards in 14 plays to cut the lead to 28-27 on a five-yard run by junior halfback Ike James with 1:19 to play.

The Devils could have kicked the extra point, but it wasn't logical. On the slick playing surface, they had already missed two extra points and kicking to tie the game would be a move made in the hope that they could stop the Cougars in the final 79 seconds and win in overtime. Lowell chose to go for two points.

Lowell lined up in a four man backfield with two blockers in front of James. It was obvious what they wanted to do. The Devils shifted the blockers from right to left and quarterback Zach Bobos turned and looked to hand off to James, who had already gained over 200 yards and scored twice. But the Lowell halfback, who had gained an unofficial 226 yards on 34 carries, slipped and fell. He didn’t get the ball. Bobos tried to run, but was covered up by New Prairie defenders. The Cougars' Jared Culp recovered Lowell's onside kick and the game was over.

One of Lowell’s greatest games was probably also one of New Prairie’s greatest games.

The Cougars went on to the state championship game where they lost to New Palestine. Three years later, Lowell beat New Prairie 25-20 in Lowell and went on to the state championship game where they lost to East Central.

Ike James would finish with 2,411 yards on 319 carries in 2014 and he would end his career with 666 carries for 4,350 yards. He was named the 2014 Post-Tribune newspaper offensive player of the year.

2021 (4A) New Prairie (2-0)
3-4 (2020), 6-5 (2019), 5-7 (2018) 7-5 (2017) 6-6 (2016)
Coach Terry Chestoyovich (4-7 2nd year) 28-37 in 7 years overall

8-20 (W) 37-21 at (5A) LaPorte (1-1)
8-27 (W) 52-3 (3A) Twin Lakes (1-1)
9-3 (4A) Lowell (1-1)
9-10 (3A) (Mishawaka) Marian (1-1)
9-17 at (3A) (South Bend) St. Joseph’s (1-1)
9-24 at (5A) (South Bend) Adams (1-1)
10-1 (4A) (South Bend) Riley (0-2)
10-8 (6A) Penn (0-2)
10-15 at (6A) Elkhart (1-1)


4A Sectional 18
10-30 vs. Logansport, Kankakee Valley, Plymouth, Culver Academy and South Bend schools: Clay, Riley and St. Joseph’s.


SCHEDULE CHANGES: New Prairie faces most of their sectional rivals in the regular season. Unlike Lowell, which begins the season with two Class 6A schools (CP and Portage), New Prairie ends the regular season with two big schools, 6A Penn and 6A Elkhart.



NEW CARLISLE -  This is supposed to be a peak year for the Cougars. They have a new quarterback in Marshall Kmiecik (6-0, 160), who is 10 of 19 for 193 yards passing, while running 18 times for 79 yards. Marshall’s job, most plays, is to hand off to sophomore running back Nick Muniga (5-9, 195), a hard runner who ran 184 times for 1,112 yards and 11 touchdowns last year.

Muniga, reportedly is 20-30 pounds bigger and stronger than he was last year and he may be a 2,000-yard rusher. In two games against better than average competition, Muniga has run 57 times for 553 yards and 10 touchdowns.

And, of course, its not all Muniga. Up front, the Cougars returned ‘The Big Show’, four-year starter offensive tackle Hunter Whitenack (6-8, 330), maybe the state’s premier player at his position. Whitenack, also a state finalist heavyweight wrestler who was 39-0 at one point last season, has agreed to play for the University of Illinois next fall. It is very hard to deal with him and senior guard Adam Borror (5-11, 296) and it's no surprise that New Prairie’s offense averages 9.1 yards per carry on 90 carries (815 yards) so far. The Cougars don’t throw much but speedy Dallas Ryans (5-7, 142) has caught five balls for 35 yards and tight end Ben Fronk (6-4, 194) has grabbed two passes for 54 yards.

Fronk is also a kicker. He has four touchbacks, but averages just 27 yards on three punts. Senior Joe Serafin is 7 of 11 on extra points. Of course, if the game is close, I expect New Prairie to try two point conversions with the running attack they have.

Defensively, lineman Jacob Meyers (6-5, 228) has been a standout with 14 solo tackles and four quarterback sacks in two games. Jacob Mrozinski (5-11, 257) is listed as a linebacker. He has six solo tackles and two sacks in two games. Linebacker Michael Rodriguez (6-1, 181) has nine solo stops.

Obviously, this is a very large team physically for Class 4A and they are mostly seniors who are planning on ‘winning now’. When the Cougars saw that the LaPorte team they beat by 16 points turned around and defeated Class 6A Penn the next week, it had to make them very confident.

2021 (4A) LOWELL (1-1)
9-2 (2020), 7-5 (2019), 10-3 (2018), 14-1 (2017) 9-5 (2016)
Coach Keith Kilmer (12th year, 91-41) - all games Friday at 7 p.m.

8-20 (L) 14-28 (6A) Crown Point (1-1)
8-27 (W) 26-21 at (6A) at Portage (1-1)
9-3 (4A) at New Prairie (2-0)
9-10 (4A) Griffith (2-0)
9-17 (4A) at HOBART (0-2)
9-24 (4A) at KANKAKEE VALLEY (1-1)
10-1 (4A) HIGHLAND (1-1)
10-8 (5A) at MUNSTER (0-2)
10-15 (2A) ANDREAN (1-1)

Class 4A Sectional 17

vs. Gary West Side, Griffith, Highland, East Chicago Hobart and LOWELL


SCHEDULE CHANGES: Let me correct the field of six teams for Class 4A Sectional 17 in October. Kankakee Valley is in the eight-team Sectional 18. I know that makes no sense geographically. If KV was in Sectional 17, both sectionals 17 and 18 would have seven teams.

But there are just six teams in Sectional 17 and that means two first round byes. The draw will be crucial. If a power like Lowell or Hobart gets a first round bye, they will have a big advantage.


Riley Bank (19), Adam Maleve (78) and Joe Heuer (21) vs. Crown Point on 8-20-2021.
(Photo by Mark Smith)

LOWELL Update:

After trailing in the first seven quarters of the season, Lowell cane back strong in the fourth quarter at Portage, scoring two TDs and winning 26-21.

Junior quarterback Riley Bank scored on fourth quarter runs of 16 and 70 yards to put the Devils ahead for the first time in the 2021 season. Time of possession was key as Lowell had the ball 28 minutes and four seconds, while Portage held the all of 19 minutes and 56 seconds.
For the second week in a row, Lowell gave up two passing TDs and that’s something I’m sure New Prairie has noticed.

For the second week in a row, Lowell gave up a 100-yard rushing performance (Portage’s Devan Howard gained 142 yards on 15 carries).

Bank (5-11, 187) carried 13 times for 106 yards and was 6-of-12 passing for 27 yards. Joe Heuer (5-7, 179) carried 21 times for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Ryan Marx (5-7 165) ran four times for 29 yards and caught a pass for six yards. Look for him to get the ball more.


Lowell’s Kyle Simmons (6-0, 191) was in on 13 tackles. The Devils' defense has two turnovers in two games and they’ll need a couple this Friday.

Lowell’s been overpowered a bit up front the first two weeks and that’s a concern going to New Prairie. I do not know the Devils' roster situation.


Senior Spencer Barta (6-4, 227) has not been able to play the first two weeks and there are others who have been out.

The Lowell roster lists 54 players and 19 of that number are sophomores.

The Devils are not a big team and have been playing and practicing in early season intense heat. If they can avoid injury and get a full roster on the field, I’m guessing the Devils will soon improve significantly on both sides of the ball.

 ‘Soon’ may not necessarily be this week.

4A LOWELL (1-1) at 4A NEW PRAIRIE (2-0)

Amzie Miller Field: capacity (estimated) 2,500


SAGARIN RATINGS:  New Prairie by 13.

This is fair. The Prairie dogs have dominated two defenses in a row and poured on the points. Lowell has battled two 6A schools and they have could have won or lost both in the fourth quarter. The loss to Crown Point doesn’t look so good in the computer after Andrean beat CP. And the Cougars' win over LaPorte got a boost when LaPorte took down 6A Penn 21-14 last Friday. For the record, Portage was favored to beat Lowell by 14 last week and the Devils won 26-21.


NEW CARLISLE (09-03-2021) When I looked at Lowell’s schedule and saw the four road games, this one was the highest hill to climb.

I think the power up front for the Cougars will be very difficult for Lowell to deal with as the game goes on.

Look for the Devils to move the ball, taking the early lead at 7-0 and 14-7. But hard-running Noah Muniga will have a big night with three touchdowns and the Cougars will rack up 300 yards rushing.

Lowell has dominated time of possession in both games so far this season, but New Prairie will hog the ball on this night. Lowell will get three TDs but it will not be enough.

It could be different if these teams meet in November, but right now, New Prairie stays undefeated.


New Prairie 35, LOWELL 21

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Revised: September 01, 2021 .