Friday football follow-up notebook
Post-Tribune staff report September 1, 2012 11:44PM
Merrillville's Jordan Turley (60) celebrates a Pirate field goal at the end of the first half during the Pirates' game against the visiting Bulldogs in Merrillville, Ind. Friday August 31, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 3, 2012 6:32AM
MERRILLVILLE — As usual, the tough non-conference schedule to start the season for Merrillville pays off when Duneland Athletic Conference play begins.
Since 2007, the Pirates have opened the campaign with state power Warren Central. And for the fourth year, Week 2 was Broadway rival Andrean, which always seems to be in the postseason conversation in whatever class it participates. Last year the 59ers actually defeated the Pirates.
So after those two games, Merrillville was able to handle whatever Crown Point had to offer Friday in the Pirates’ 40-12 victory.
“You expose yourself to a low of weaknesses in games like that,” Merrillville coach Zac Wells said. “It forces the kids to look at themselves in the mirror and realize where we need to improve and make themselves better team players.”
LC defense deserves credit: Although Lake Central’s 40-17 win over Portage on Friday night featured Purdue-bound David Yancey and his four rushing TDs, the team defense performed as the steady co-star. Portage had to think twice about working the left side with junior Gelen Robinson (two pass deflections) barrowing down the end and senior linebacker Luke Taylor recovering two of Portage’s six fumbles.
“I think our defense played very well,” LC coach Brett St. Germain. “We’ve got some young guys on our defense but they’re playing hard and as long as their doing that, we can’t fault their effort.”
Carter’s suspension felt: The absence of Martayveus Carter was obvious for East Chicago in their win over Roosevelt on Friday night.
Not only did the Cardinals trail the winless Panthers 14-12 at halftime but E.C. seemed sluggish and unable to put together anything consistently until the fourth quarter. Junior running back Anthony Hunt helped the Cardinals come back from a 20-18 deficit to win 32-20 as E.C. scored two TDs in the final six minutes of the game.
Hunt finished with 16 carries for 147 yards and the game’s final touchdown to cap the victory.
“Anthony Hunt and Martayveus Carter were all on that 4x100 (relay) team that finished (sixth) in the state so we know we’ve got a lot of speed out there,” Cardinals coach Stacy Adams said. “If one guy can’t do it, we know another guy needs to step in and do it.”
Carter was suspended for the contest for an altercation against Lake Central the previous week.
Cruel twist of fate: Lake Station quarterback Kody Lemley had to know what River Forest Justin Pennington was feeling. In last year’s matchup between the rivals, Lemley exited the game in the second quarter with a broken left arm and did not return. This year, it was Pennington who went down with an injury to his right leg.
“That’s just the way things work sometimes,” said Lemley, who played the whole game this time, despite a brief battle with leg cramps.
Said Lake Station head coach Mike Hepp: “That was real tough for them. He’s a solid kid and a solid quarterback.”
River Forest coach Jeff Bean declined to comment on the injury.
Petruf impresses both coaches: Whiting coach Jeff Cain heaped praise on senior Patrick Petruf, who excelled on offense, defense and special teams in the Oilers’ 34-7 win over Wheeler. His all-around performance was especially impressive on a humid night, with several players cramping.
“He’s starting to come into his own,” Cain said of Petruf, whose game included five receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
The 6-foot-3 Petruf also caught the attention of Bearcats coach Tony Klimczak, who described him as a “stud.”
Beating the ‘big dogs’: After watching his Kankakee Valley team upset Lowell Friday night, 17-7, Kougars’ head coach Brad Stewart drew an interesting comparison to when he was Lowell’s defensive coordinator under former Red Devils’ head coach, Kirk Kennedy.
“This reminds me a lot of when Kirk first got here,” Stewart said. “We hadn’t had a winning season in 20 years. This is kind of how this (beating Lowell) feels in that we finally beat one of the big dogs.”
Field position key for Vikings: One could argue Stephen Simms’ 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown Friday was 100 yards. The Valparaiso senior was nearly in the end zone, which would have negated the runback, but technically, he took it at the 1-yard line. He darted up the middle and put a pair of moves on to juke the LaPorte kicker before sprinting to the end zone. Simms almost returned a punt for a TD later, but settled for a 44-yard return to the LaPorte 8.
Not to be outdone, Vikings running back Andrew Kittridge scored on runs of 2 and 8 yards but had just 35 yards rushing to show for his effort until busting off a 68-yard TD run in the third quarter.
Valparaiso had such great field position the entire night in a 55-10 win, the team’s final offensive numbers (175 rushing yards, 101 passing yards) weren’t all that impressive. But the final score was.
“They’re both running hard and doing a great job,” Vikings coach Dave Coyle said of Simms and Kittridge. “Give credit to the offensive line, too. They’re working hard and staying on their blocks.”
Staff writers Steve T. Gorches and Michael Osipoff, and correspondents Candace Buckner, Tom Wyatt, John O’Malley, Ryan Haskell and Dave Melton contributed