Week 6 -  Football Game of the Week Preview

4A Lowell (2-3) at
4A Kankakee Valley (3-2)

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


When:  Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.

Where:  Kankakee Valley High School, 3923 State Road 10, in Wheatfield, Indiana (west of DeMotte).

Tickets:  $6.

Kickoff:   7 p.m.

TV/Radio/Internet: Regional Radio Sports Network – rrsn.com video - 7 p.m. (Note this game is scheduled to be live and free on rrsn.com video.)

Also a live radio broadcast by our longtime and now former USA-365.com announcer Frank Sprankle on WLQI-97.7 FM and online at www.wlqi977.com. (Click the "Listen Live" button, or copy and paste the following link into your media player: https://radio.securenetsystems.net/v5/WLQI 

Enrollment: Kankakee Valley 1,076; LOWELL – 1,107.

I thought at the turn of the century that KV would become a very large school. That never happened. In 1986, Kankakee Valley had 869 students. In the IHSAA directory for the year 2005, KV was listed as having 1,071 students. That’s almost exactly what they have to this day.

WEATHER: Much cooler. Upper 60s for the kickoff. Low 60s and upper 50s for the second half. A bit cool for fans, but perfect for players. I think (and I certainly hope) we have seen the last of the overheated Friday nights.


PARKING: I’ve always thought that KV has just enough parking space for a school their size. The Kougars host sectional girls basketball and that’s their largest crowds. But for football, KV vs. Lowell is the biggest game. This is not a night you have to show up 45 minutes early just to get anywhere near the field in time for kickoff. The atmosphere for this game is always frisky. Kougar folks enjoy seeing their old friends from Lowell.


WHAT's AT STAKE: Lowell leads the series 28-4 that includes a 27-game winning streak that ended in 2004. Lowell has also won the last six meetings between these two schools. But this series is all about ‘The Can.’ The ‘Old Milk Can’ is a wonderful old piece of dairy equipment that somebody dragged out of the barn and painted up to award to the winner of the annual KV-Lowell game. It's silly but it's tradition.


Rensselaer and KV play for the ‘Cracker Barrel.’ LaPorte and New Prairie play for the ‘Milk Jug.’
Did you know that the annual winner of the Wisconsin-Minnesota game gets something called ‘Paul Bunyan’s Axe’?

The winner of the USC-Notre Dame game gets the ‘Golden Shillaleah.’ Really.

Would you or I get excited about an old metal con-friendly can? No.

But the boys want to win it. They get excited about grabbing it or keeping it.

When you go to the game Friday, look for the ‘Old Milk Can’ on the sidelines.

Last Year's Game ...

Red Devils come from behind
with 21-point 4th Qtr to beat KV 28-21


Team 1 2 3 4 F
Kankakee Valley (5-1, 1-1 NCC) 7 14 0 0 21
LOWELL (5-0, 1-0 NCC) 0 0 7 21 28

Friday, Sept. 25, 2020 - 70 degrees (at kick-off), Northwest Crossroads Conference game at LOWELL, Ind.

1st Qtr: KV (7-0) Markus Ritchie, 25-yard pass from Eli Carden. 73-yard drive, 6 plays. Markus Ritchie kick. 9:43 left.
2nd Qtr: KV (14-0) Cade Capps, 2-yard run, pass form Eli Carden. 73-yard drive, 16 plays. Markus Ritchie kick. 11:50 left.
KV (21-0) Markus Ritchie, 40-yard pass form Eli Carden. 63-yard drive, 6 plays. Markus Ritchie kick. 0:12 left.
3rd Qtr: LOWELL (7-21)
Joe Heuer, 98-yard kickoff return. Caden Britton kick. 11:47 left.
4th Qtr: LOWELL (14-21) Michael Havel-Ericks, 53-yard pass from Cam Stojancevich. 65-yard drive. 2 plays. Caden Britton kick. 9:29 left.
LOWELL (21-21)
Joe Heuer, 11-yard run. 65-yard drive, 5 plays. Caden Britton kick. 5:11 left.
LOWELL (21-28)
Joe Heuer, 60-yard run. 89-yard drive, 6 plays. Caden Britton kick. 0:39 left.

KV (40 carries, 137 yards, one fumble, one TD): Eli Carden (QB) 7 carries, 27 yards, Cade Capps (HB) 16-50 yards, Logan Parks (HB) 16-54 yards, Ryan Tinnel (HB) 1-6 yards;

LOWELL (25 carries, 141 yards, 2 TDs, one fumble): Joe Heuer (HB) 23 carries, 136 yards, 2 TDs; Cam Stojancevich (QB) 2-7 yards carries.


KV: Eli Carden (QB) 11 of 26, 172 yards, 2 TDs, 2 interceptions;
LOWELL: Cam Stojancevich (QB) 4 of 12, 102 yards, one TD, one interception.


KV: Markus Ritchie (WR) 6 catches, 94 yards, 2 TDs; Caleb Swallow (WR) , 3-67 yards, Tyler Feddeler (TE) 1-5 yards; Logan Parks (HB)1-1 yard.
LOWELL : Michael Havel-Ericks (WR) 2 catches, 61 yards, TD; Adam Bank (WR) 1-29 yards; Joey Hennessey (WR) 1-12 yards.


KV: 299 yards, 15 first downs, 3 turnovers;
LOWELL: 243 yards, 14 first downs, 2 turnovers.

The KV- Lowell traveling trophy affectionately known as "The Old Milk Can."

LOWELL (9-25-2020) This is the one I can't explain. It was 21-0 at the half and I don't think I’ve ever seen Lowell come from 21 points behind to win. They are not built for that.
Burn in a 12-month-later sequel to the Devils’ 21-14 come-from-behind victory at KV in 2019. Lowell was outscored 21-0 and outgained 230 yards to 36 in a first half where it appeared as if the Devils had somewhat given up on this late September summer night.

But somehow the home team, playing without as many as 10 Covid-19 sidelined players, rose from seemingly certain defeat to turn back their fired-up neighbor and set a standard for comebacks that future Lowell teams may talk about for years to come.



WHEATFIELD - I wish they played this game on Thursday night or Saturday afternoon so more people not connected with either school could attend.

This is a spirited rivalry.

Lowell has won most of the meetings (by my count, Lowell leads the series 27-4), but the games seem so active and the boys enjoy carrying off that ‘Old Milk Can,’ the simple piece of dairy equipment which is the traveling trophy awarded to the winner of this matchup.

The ‘can’ has spent a lot of time in Lake County, but a 17-7 KV win at Lowell seven years ago broke a 27-year Lowell win streak in this series.

You folks ‘of a certain age’ may already know that Kankakee Valley high school is a 1970 consolidation of the old DeMotte and Wheatfield high schools that dated back into the middle of of the 20th Century in Jasper County.

DeMotte high goes back to 1936.

There is no record (that I can find) of Lowell ever playing DeMotte or Wheatfield, possibly because Wheatfield and DeMotte played 8-man football prior to 1965 and I don’t think Lowell ever did.

This KV-Lowell series is underappreciated because football followers in Lake County don't experience it. There have been significant improvements made to the KV football complex in recent years and the whole scene with the sun setting in the west behind the home grandstand is a classic scene.

The entire trip to south Jasper County, driving through old farms and open area at 5-6 p.m. is so worth the time.

For most Lowell games (like Crown Point or Griffith), I want to watch those teams play in Lowell. But Kankakee Valley on a football night is a pretty place to be. You should go, if you excuse the expression, ‘can.’


Northwest Crossroads Conference
  W-L Pts OP W-L Pts OP Streak
Andrean 1-0 38 14 3-  2 139 102 Won 2
Hobart 1-0 39 27 3-  2 165 107 Won 3
Kankakee Valley 1-0 35 21 3-  2 134 126 Won 2
Highland 0-1 14 38 2-  3 151 137 Lost 1
Lowell 0-1 27 39 2-  3 123 132 Lost 1
Munster 0-1 21 35 2-  3 92 122 Lost 1

September 24 – all games – 7 p.m.
Hobart at ANDREAN
Munster at Highland 
LOWELL at Kankakee Valley

Friday, Oct. 1
Kankakee Valley at Hobart 
Munster at ANDREAN 
Highland at LOWELL

Friday, Oct. 8
Hobart at Highland 
Kankakee Valley at ANDREAN 
LOWELL at Munster 

Friday, Oct. 15
Highland at Kankakee Valley
Munster at Hobart 

(End of the regular season)

The Kougars' big offensive senior lineman Dyllin Bolton (6-4, 300). (Photo by Mark Smith)

2021 (4A) Kankakee Valley (3-2)
5-4 (2020), 4-6 (2019), 2-8 (2018), 3-7 (2017)
Coach James Broyles (13-20, 4th year) - Northwest Crossroads Conference

8-20 (L) 17-41 at (2A) Rensselaer (3-2)
8-27 (W) 27-7 at (2A) Wheeler (3-1)
9-3 (L) 21-57 (5A) (West Lafayette) Harrison (4-1)
9-10 (W) 34-0 (2A) North Newton (2-3)
9-17 (W) 0-0 (4A) MUNSTER (2-3)
9-24 (4A) LOWELL (3-2)
10-1 at (4A) HOBART (3-3)
10-8 at (2A) ANDREAN (3-2)
10-15 (4A) HIGHLAND (3-2)

4A Sectional 18
10-30 vs. Logansport (4-0), Plymouth (0-5), Culver Academy (3-2), New Prairie (4-1) and South Bend schools: Riley (1-3), St. Joseph’s (2-3) and Clay (0-5).


SECTIONAL OUTLOOK: There’s a lot of variety here. Clay has won five games in six years, while New Prairie has a lot of hard-running power.

This is an ‘old school’ marathon eight team sectional. Everybody has to win three games to win the trophy. So even with a favorable draw, you really have to walk a mile and travel through time zones to win the Sectional 18 trophy.


Kankakee Valley Update:

WHEATFIELD - Let’s be clear. Kankakee Valley should have beaten Lowell in each of the last two years. I don’t have to tell any present day Kougar senior football player that KV led Lowell 14-0 at the half on September 20, 2019 and ended up losing 21-14 in Wheatfield.

A once once a generation loss, right? No. Last season the Kougars led Lowell 21-0 in Lowell at halftime on September 25, 2020 and somehow they lost again lost 28-21. Great comebacks by the Devils, but I was there and I still can't explain those games. I really can't.

The Kougars again appear to have a strong team physically and they want to run the ball on you.

Hard-running Jack Lamka (5-10, 190) is coming at Lowell Friday night. Lamka carried 16 times for 199 yards and three TDs in the win over North Newton in August and just last week he carried 25 times for 192 yards and two more TDs at Munster.

It help to have big boys like junior Chase Armstrong (6-2, 215), and seniors Danny Buck (6-5, 305) and Dyllin Bolton (6-4, 300) up front for QB Grant Stowers, who also ran for TD at Munster last week. The Kougars got a 99 yard kickoff return from junior Louden Fugett (36 carries, 144 yards) last week.

I’m guessing KV does not want to throw the ball much, although Stowers did throw for two TDs in a come-from-behind effort against Harrison. The Kougars line up with as tight end, a roving wingback/lead blocker and just two wide receivers on a lot of plays.

Munster found out last week when they hosted KV that you have to stop Lamka (61 carries, 436 yards) or they win.

Defensively, Caleb Swallow (6-1, 191) looks like a quick and strong linebacker, but the Kougars were somewhat overpowered by Rensselaer (233 yards rushing on 36 carries) and Harrison (380 yards rushing).

The three wins are over Class 2A North Newton, Class 2A Wheeler and a 5A Munster team that’s rebuilding in every way. KV is probably looking at this home game as a major test of what they’re going to do this year. A win over Lowell would suggest that a sectional title for the Kougars is not impossible.

2021 (4A) LOWELL (2-3)
9-2 (2020), 7-5 (2019), 10-3 (2018), 14-1 (2017) 9-5 (2016)
Coach Keith Kilmer (12th year, 93-43) Northwest Crossroads Conference games in CAPS.

8-20 (L) 14-28 (6A) Crown Point (3-2)
8-27 (W) 26-21 at (6A) at Portage (1-4)
9-3 (L) 14-24 (4A) at New Prairie (4-1)
9-10 (W) 42-20 (4A) Griffith (2-3)
9-17 (L) 27-39 at (4A) HOBART (3-2)
9-24 (4A) at KANKAKEE VALLEY (3-2)
10-1 (4A) HIGHLAND (2-3)
10-8 (5A) at MUNSTER (2-3)
10-15 (2A) ANDREAN (3-2)

Class 4A Sectional 17
October 22: vs. Gary West Side (2-2), Griffith (2-3), Highland (2-3), East Chicago (1-4) and Hobart (3-2)


Lowell senior running back Joe Heuer (21) tries to turn the corner against Hobart on Friday, 9/17/2021. (Photo by Mark Smith)

SCHEDULE CHANGES: After last week, it became more apparent that it will (and should) be Lowell vs. Hobart for the 4A Sectional 17 title. The other four teams in Sectional 17 fell to or below the .500 mark. Lowell did too, but Lowell lost to three winning teams. I just hope that Lowell and Hobart don't match up in a quarterfinal sectional game.

LOWELL Update:


LOWELL – Last week was on odd game for Lowell. It's not like they didn’t get beat 39-27 at Hobart. But the Devils, in defeat, gained a season high total yards.

Lowell QB Riley Bank (5-10, 187) carried the ball 22 times for 143 yards, while halfback Joe Heuer ran it 29 times for 162 yards. Bank also completed nine of 14 passes for 129 yards and two TDs.

That’s 434 yards right there.

Now, the Brickies may also have anticipated a second Lowell-Hobart game in November and thought that they’d save any defensive adjustments for that night. But Lowell scored all 29 points after halftime and they were unusually effective running the ball.

Bank leads Lowell in rushing with 476 yards and seven TDs on 80 carries. Heuer, who has only played in four games, has 470 yards and two TDs on 81 carries. Lowell has rushed for 1,142 yards (228.5 per game) in five games.

Bank has completed 32 of 65 passes for 364 yards, three TDs and just one interception, which was last week at Hobart. He also ran a type of jacked-up style of ‘option’ play where the junior simply took off at full speed around the end. No deception. No hesitation.

It was very effective.

Defensively, Lowell had to apply so many assets to stop Trey Gibson last week that Hobart QB Noah Ehrlich had fairly open receivers to throw to. That might be KV’s blueprint this week, so the Lowell secondary will be working on answers when quick hitting passes force them into tough man-to-man coverage.

Lowell played without quick hitting defender Ray Ambassi (5-7, 180) last week, but he was on the sidelines last week and I’m assuming he’ll be back between the white lines this Friday. I don’t think there’s been a game this year where Lowell has had every starter in action.

Those of you who have followed Lowell for some some time know that it's not unusual for the Devils to get off to a slow start. The Devils were 2-3 in 2014 and they won 4A Sectional 17. Lowell was 2-3 in 2016 and they won the sectional and regional titles.

But there are some statistics for Lowell that are disturbing. They have allowed nine passing touchdowns in five games and they have just seven quarterback sacks and no pass interceptions. Lowell has also allowed over five yards a carry in every game so far.

But that’s the first half of the season.

The half that matters begins Friday night in Jasper County.



At The KV Stadium: capacity – 3,000

Sagarin computer ratings: 
Lowell by 13.

That spread is a little high. The Devils have only averaged about 25 points a game this season. The 13-point gap here is almost certainly due to strength of schedule. Lowell has played 6A Portage (1-4) and 6A Crown Point (3-2) plus state rated 4A New Prairie (4-1). KV has faced 5A Munster and 5A No. 10 Harrison (4-1) plus 2A No. 9 Rensselaer (3-2). For the record, Hobart was favored to beat Lowell by 22 last week and the Brickies won 39-27.


WHEATFIELD (09-24-2021) Lowell been scoreless in the first quarter four times this year and KV starts fast this Friday on a TD run by quarterback Grant Stowers. But the Devils rally to tie it on a TD pass from Riley Bank to Johnny Johnson.

The Devils start the third period with a long drive and TD run from Joe Heuer.

In the fourth quarter, Lowell’s Jae Blank gets the Devils' first interception of the season and Riley Bank scores on a short run for a 21-7 lead. KV gets a late TD from Jack Lamka, but the Devils hold on.

Lowell shortens the game with 200 yards rushing and a dozen first downs and they escape KV with the Old Milk Can.

LOWELL 21, Kankakee Valley 14

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Revised: September 22, 2021 .