Week 5 - Football Game of the Week Preview

4A Lowell (2-2) at
4A Hobart (2-2)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith



When:  Friday, September 17, 2021.

Where:  Hobart high school, 2211 East 10th Street in Hobart, Ind.

Tickets:  $6.

Kickoff:   7 p.m.
TV/Radio/Internet: Region Sports Network – rrsn.com video (pay per view) 7:00 p.m.
NOTE: This game will be carried live on rrsn.com video, but this is one of the last warm nights of the season and Lowell-Hobart is a big game. Go to the game and then go home and watch it later.

Enrollment: Hobart 1,287; LOWELL – 1,107.

I have absolutely no data to back this up (10 years ago, Hobart’s enrollment was 1,230), but I think Hobart is growing as a school. The new school (it actually opened in 2007) looks good, the grounds are well kept and modern. Of course, I don’t know the capacity of the building or whether Hobart folks are quite happy with a high school of its present size.

WEATHER: A bit warmer. It's been a warm week and practices may have been tough. The ‘Brickyard’ has artificial turf, but we’ve reached the point of the season where the sun isn’t a facto by game time. It may be a bit humid. Fine for fans. Not so good for players.


PARKING: Keeping in mind the size of the school, Hobart’s parking lot is fairly large. For those of us who remember the old Brickie Bowl, what the new school has is an ocean of parking. If you get there late you may walk a little bit, but I have not seen a game at the ‘Brickyard’ yet where they ran out of parking.


WHAT's AT STAKE: A lot. Lowell and Hobart have ruled Class 4A Sectional 17 in recent years and it’s a virtual certainty that one of the two is going to win the crown again in November.


Last year’s game ...







LOWELL (9-2)






HOBART (9-2)






Friday, November 6, 2020 -  60 degrees (at kick-off) at HOBART, IN

1st QtrHOBART (3-0) Miki Djankovich, 22-yard field goal. 80-yard drive, 15 plays. 5:14 left.

2nd Qtr: LOWELL (7-3) Ryan Marx, 2-yard run. Caden Britton kick. 66-yard drive, 13 plays. 11:56 left.
HOBART (10-7) Riley Johnston, 25-yard run. 57-yard drive, 7 plays. 6:25 left.

3rd Qtr: (No scoring.)

4th Qtr: (No scoring.)



LOWELL (36 carries, 97 yards, one TD): Ryan Marx (HB) 28-68 yards, TD; Cam Stojancevich (QB) 2-(-12 yard);
Johnny Johnson (HB) 1-14 yards; Kyler Newcom (WB) 5-27 yards.
HOBART (34 carries, 142 yards, one TD): Tyler Turley (HB) 21 carries, 63 yards; Riley Johnston (QB) 9-56, Zach Vode (WR) 2-19 yards; Mark Enslen (WR) 1(minus-1 yard); Brayden Carlson (FB) 1-5 yards.

LOWELL: Cam Stoyancevich (QB) 5 of 16, 62 yards, 0 TD, 0 interceptions, Kyler Newcom (WB) 0-1;
HOBART: Riley Johnston (QB) 8 of 18, 104 yards, 0 TDs, one interception.

LOWELL : Michael Havel-Ericks (WR) 12-19 yards, Ryan Marx (HB) (WR) 2 catches, 3 yards; Kyler Newcom (WB) 2-25 yards, Caleb Miranda (TE) 1-13 yards:
HOBART : Zach Vode (WR) 8-104 yards.


LOWELL: 159 yards, 10 first downs, 0 turnovers;
HOBART: 246 yards, 14 first downs, one turnovers


HOBART (11-06-2020) I thought that without junior all-stater Joe Heuer at running back, that Lowell could not stay close to Hobart.

But until Lowell turned the ball over on downs with 1:40 to play, no one could be sure that the home team was going to win the school’s Northwest Indiana-record 22nd sectional football championship.

It was cold and the second half was scoreless, but I loved this game. As the Devils stopped Hobart again and again in the final two quarters, there was a realization that this game was in doubt, something I did not believe at the start of the night.

Hobart outgained Lowell. They had more first downs. Now-graduated Zach Vode was outstanding.

Hobart went on to reach the state finals before they lost to superpower Roncali and I rooted for the Brickies all the way.

When I first heard about Northwest Indiana football, Hobart (21 sectional titles, 17 regionals, 10 semistate crowns and four state titles in 45 years) was Lowell before Lowell (15 sectionals, eight regionals, four semistate and one state title in 30 years) was Lowell.

But last November’s game showed me again. You don’t really know what you think you know until it's time to go.


HOBART: Forgive me if I’ve said all this before. I know I have. But the story of Hobart football is something I just love to tell.

Hobart began playing varsity football in 1927, but they weren't very good. Until the 1950, the Hobart Brickies (named after boys and men who worked the town's brick-making ‘brickyards’ generations earlier) only had two winning seasons.

What happened then began with two coaches and a legendary home stadium.

In the 1930s (September 15, 1939 was the first game), a government works project created a 7,000-seat football stadium in downtown Hobart. I do not know why a program that was just beginning built a stadium so large. Hobart was a losing football program in the 30s and 40s. Hobart was 1-8 in 1939.

Looking back, it didn’t make sense.

But along came coach Russ Deal and the Brickies came to power. Deal was 115-48-6 from 1948 to 1965. A lineman who played for Deal and at Indiana University named Don Howell, took over as head varsity coach in 1965 and Howell took his old school to heights no Northwest Indiana school has equaled before or since.

Don Howell was 314-73 from 1966 through 1998. Howell’s Brickies won four state titles and the Brickie Bowl was filled to capacity for any game of any significance. Hobart won 19 consecutive sectional titles (1979 to 1997) in a row and 77 consecutive home games in the stretch from 1977 to 1988.

Folks don’t even remember Russ Deal outside Hobart.

Hobart moved from the big school Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) to the smaller school Northwest Crossroads Conference (NCC), largely because Hobart could not compete in sports other than football with schools twice their size.

Hobart also built a state of the art new school on 10th street. They had to get permission from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to call it the ’Brickyard’ (also the speedways’ nickname) but they did. I don't know how.

The name fits perfectly.

What happened to the Brickie Bowl? It's still there. It sits behind the Hobart police station on Fourth Street. The press box is gone and the giant home grandstand isn't in great condition. But the field still stands. As a monument to a time when Hobart football won 428 games in 50 years and lifted a small public school into the same room with the legends of high school sports.

The Distant Replay ...

Team 1 2 3 4 F
LOWELL (9-0) 7 9 7 7 30
Hobart (2-4) 0 7 0 0 7

Friday, October 13, 2017 - 68 degrees (at kick-off) at HOBART, IN

1st QtrLOWELL (7-0) Jordan Jusevicth, 1-yard run. 80-yard drive, 8 plays. Mike Hutton kick. 1:03 left.
2nd QtrLOWELL (14-0) Ethan Igras, 25-yard screen pass to Jake Post. 60-yard drive, 4 plays. Mike Hutton kick. 9:22
HOBART (14-7) Ryan Leto, 9-yard pass to Brock Cooper. 14-yard drive, 3 plays after fumble recovery by Sal Valle. Matt Hylek kick. 4:29.
LOWELL (16-7) Sal Valle tackled in end zone. SAFETY. 1:49 left.
3rd QtrLOWELL (23-7) Tyler Wildman, 18-yard run. 80-yard drive, 7 plays. Mike Hutton kick. 3:03 left.
4th Qtr: LOWELL (30-7) Ethan Igras, 2-yard run. 23-yard drive, 4 plays after bad punt snap by Hobart turned the ball over on downs. Mike Hutton kick. 9:58 left.


HOBART (37 carries, 109 yards, 0 TDs, 0 fumbles): Sal Valle (HB) 20 carries, 89 yards; DJ Lipke (HB) 3-14 yards; Matt Barton (QB-WR) 9-3 yards; Sam Hicks (HB) 1-0 yards; Chris Tyler (HB) 3-5 yards; Tom Reynolds (HB) 1 (-2) yards.


Jaeger Gill (2), Michael Langen (30) and Jordan Jusevitch (6) at Hobart, 10-13-2017. (Photo by Mark Smith)

LOWELL (31 carries, 219 yards, 3 TDs, 0 fumbles): Tyler Wildman (HB) 16-68 yards, TD; Jaeger Gill (HB) 3-42 yards; Jordan Jusevitch (HB) 2-2 yards, TD; Cedric Caschetta (HB) 5-12 yards; Ethan Igras (QB) 4-60 yards (1 sack, minus-7), TD; Logan O'Hanlon (WR) 1-35 yards.

HOBART: Ryan Leto (QB) (QB) 3 of 11, 27 yards, one TD, one interception; Matt Barton (QB) 1-for-1, 4 yards; LOWELL: Ethan Igras (QB) 4 of 8, 71 yards, one TD, one interception.

HOBART: Matt Barton (WR) 1-10 yards; Chris Tyler (WR) 1-8; Sal Valle (RB) 1-1 yard; Brock Cooper (HB) 1-9 yards, TD.
LOWELL: Jake Post (FB) 1-25 yards, TD; Jared Sojka (FB) 2-27; Jaeger Gill (WR) 1-33 yards.

HOBART (1) Omena Onomakpome (LB); LOWELL (1) Tucker Greenholt.

HOBART (1) Sal Valle (LB): LOWELL (1) none

Hobart: 140 yards, 12 first downs, 1 turnover;
LOWELL: 290 yards, 13 first downs, 2 turnovers.



HOBART (10-13-2017) Four years ago, the Devils went to Hobart with the chance to finish the regular season undefeated and they did it. Lowell is all about sectional titles and more, but I left with a smile. The 2017 Lowell Red Devils (9-0) became the sixth team in school history to win all their regular season games.

Lowell has won 15 sectional and eight regional titles since the state tournament began in 1973. But in the entire century long (and more) history of the football program, the Red Devils have just six undefeated regular seasons.

The 2017 team reached the state title game and lost 14-7 to East Central, a game I still think they should have won. Lowell was 14-1 in 2017 and that team was so good.

Don't get me into an argument of which Lowell team of the last 30 years was the best. But...

The 2017 Devils allowed just 1,929 total yards (129 yards per game) 101 first downs (6.7 per game) in 15 games. Lowell had five shutouts and held the opposition under 10 points nine times.
Nobody rushed for 1,000 yards or passed for 20 touchdowns but the balanced attack and ‘seal team’ quick attack style defense was perhaps Lowell’s most balanced team of my time.

And as years pass, I hope the boys who played in 2017 realize how honorable an undefeated regular season is.

2021 (4A) Hobart (2-2)
11-3 (2020), 11-3 (2019), 7-3 (2018) 6-4 (2017) 10-3 (2016)
Coach Craig Osika (31-11,4th year) - Northwest Crossroads Conference

8-20 (L) 14-20 (6A) Chesterton (4-0)
8-27 (L) 14-41 at Merrillville (4-0)
9-3 (W) 49-13 at (4A) Griffith (2-2)
9-10 (W) 49-6 Culver Academy (3-1)
9-17 (4A) LOWELL (2-2)
9-24 at (2A) ANDREAN (2-2)
10-1 (4A) KANKAKEE VALLEY (2-2)
10-8 at (4A) HIGHLAND (2-2)
10-15 (5A) MUNSTER (2-2)

4A Sectional 17
10-30 vs. Griffith, East Chicago, Highland, Gary West Side and LOWELL


SCHEDULE CHANGES: With just six teams in Class 4A Sectional 17, the big news when the state tournament draw comes out next month will be ‘Who gets the bye’?
As much as an ‘easy’ quarterfinal foe might be, teams that think they can win the sectional (read Lowell and Hobart) certainly would want the week off as opposed to a weak opponent.

Hobart Update:

HOBART - Hobart took two losses from ranked teams and then they started to roll, smacking down Griffith and Culver Academy by a combined score of 98-19.

Here comes the next generation of quarterbacks. When they get to Andrean, the Devils will see sophomore Mark Ballentine

Friday the Brickies will start freshman Noah Ehrlich (6-0, 175) who is 39 of 65 for 520 yards, for four touchdowns and no interceptions. Ehrlich throws well. He is not a running back. Just 29 yards on 13 carries.

But he doesn’t need to be. Junior Trey Gibson (6-0, 190) has run the ball 74 times for 524 yards (a shining 7.1 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns. Gibson played at Wheeler last season where he gained 1,569 yards and 22 touchdowns on 214 carries. You can't stop him. You can only hope to contain him. Gibson has also caught 10 passes for 94 yards. He is also a kickoff and punt returner and Lowell has to know where he is on every play.

Hobart’s got a good size offensive line, including Mike Ramirez (6-3, 330), Elijah Wilson (6-0, 300), Isaiah Wilson (5-9, 245) and Connor Bock (6-2, 250) so there’s no doubt that Gibson is coming at you 15-20 times every game.

Defensively this team lost a lot from 2020, but they have played well against everybody but Merrillville. Ryan Flores (5-11, 205) has 14 solo tackles. Junior linebacker Gavin Miller (6-2, 185) has 11 solo tackles. Middle linebacker Jake Simpson has six tackles for losses. Veteran Alex Pickett (5-10, 230) is an anchor in the defensive line.

Senior kicker Miki Djankovich averages just 31 yards a punt, but he is 17 of 17 on extra points. Djankovich is also a receiver with nine catches for 70 yards.

This will be the eighth meeting of Lowell and Hobart in six years (with a likely ninth meeting coming in November) and this one may come down to the freshman Ehrlich facing Lowell’s fast defense for the first time.

2021 (4A) LOWELL (2-2)
9-2 (2020), 7-5 (2019), 10-3 (2018), 14-1 (2017) 9-5 (2016)
Coach Keith Kilmer (12th year, 93-42) Northwest Crossroads Conference games in CAPS.

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

Class 4A Sectional 17
October 22: vs. Gary West Side, Griffith, Highland, East Chicago and LOWELL


Senior Joe Heuer (21), juniors Ryan Marx (12), Adam Malave (78) and Jae Blank(4) during the Lowell at CP game on 08-20-2021. (Photo by Mark Smith)

SCHEDULE CHANGES: Gary West Side’s only wins are from Bowman Academy (0-3) and Phalen Academy (0-3) but they did have enough players to play last week and that’s what I care about six weeks from the sectional tournament.

LOWELL Update:

I’m pretty sure Lowell had starters on the field in the final minute each of the first three games, so the Devils got what they needed heading in to play defending Class 4A Sectional 17 champ Hobart. Six first half rushing touchdowns and the chance to play backups in the second half last week against Griffith.

The Devils drew nine penalties last week and that’s about eight too many. But Lowell led 42-0 in the second quarter so game statistics here are misleading. Ray Ambassi (5-9, 210) had six solo tackles including three stops for losses. Kyle Simmons (6-0, 190) had two more tackles for losses. Simmons leads Lowell with 20 tackles and two QB sacks in four games.

Left-handed quarterback Riley Bank (5-11, 187) seems more confident as the games go on.

Bank carried five times for 42 yards and two more TDs last week. For the year, Bank has run 57 times for 343 yards, while halfback Joe Heuer (5-7, 181) has run 52 times for 308 yards. With a guaranteed six games and a likely eight remaining, the chance for multiple 1,000-yard rushers is there.

It's just something I’ve long wanted. In 2006, Lowell’s Max Znika gained 1,302 yards on 224 carries and teammate Steffan Peck gained an unofficial 995 yards on 198 runs.

In 2000, Mike French gained 1,328 yard on 200 carries and Chris Goult gained 949 yards on 156 carries. Almost.

The deal with Bank and Heuer is that most plays start with an option play with those two boys. A generation ago, Lowell used a pro-set or I-formation, which, without the QB being a major ground-gainer, made it hard to have TWO high gaining backs every game.

The Devils’ Ryan Marx (5-7, 165) could also get to 1,000 all-purpose (runs, catches and kick return yards). He’s at 317 yards after four games.

One note from last week’s game. Sophomore kicker Caden Britton was 6-of-6 on extra points and averaged 34 yards a punt, his best game of the year.

Lowell is averaging 212 yards rushing per game and that’s with one lost fumble all season. They have had an edge in time of possession in all four games and Lowell has had 10 or more first downs in all four games.

But Lowell has allowed 708 yards on 109 carries rushing in four games and 6.5 yards per carry.

That’s the issue here. Can Lowell run the ball enough so Hobart can't get it? Because there’s no doubt what Hobart can do with it.


4A LOWELL (2-2) at 4A HOBART (2-2)

At  Hobart's Brickyard: Capacity 4,800 

Sagarin computer ratings:  Hobart by 22.

Ouch. That spread is high. I can promise you that Lowell isn’t losing by 22 points Friday. The computer cyberspace may be giving Hobart a lot of credit for the 49-6 win over previously undefeated Culver Academy last week. The ‘world wide web’ may have taken Lowell down a touch when New Prairie, a team that beat the Devils 24-14 on September 3, lost 33-0 to Marian. But, hold me to this one. Last year’s Lowell-Hobart game was 10-7. No way Lowell loses by anything close to 22 points this coming Friday. For the record, Lowell was favored to beat Griffith by nine points last week and they won 42-20.


HOBART (09-17-2021) This is hard to call. Trey Gibson is a bigger offensive threat than anybody Hobart had last season, when the Brickies beat Lowell 10-7 in the sectional championship game. But Riley Bank gives Lowell a running option at quarterback, a stress to the defense Lowell couldn't dish out last season.

I like Lowell to get to a 7-0 lead on a run by Joe Heuer. But Gibson ties it up after a short pass from Noah Ehrlich. Riley Bank scores on a short run near the goal line, but Gibson scores from scrimmage to make it 14-14 at the half.

A reverse to Ryan Marx sets up the third Lowell TD in the third period and the Devils intercept Erhlich to set up Joe Heuer’s second TD and a 28-21 lead. Gibson runs the kickoff back over 90 yards to score and cut the Lowell lead to 28-21.

Hobart drives inside the Lowell 30, but they turn it over on fourth down in the fourth quarter and Lowell escapes with the victory.

This is a great matchup and it won't disappoint what should be a big crowd. But unlike in last year’s game, Lowell has the better defense and I think that Lowell’s mobility and experience at quarterback is the difference.

LOWELL 28, Hobart 21

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Revised: September 16, 2021 .