Football: West Side takes another Gary city title
By Tommy Williams Post-Tribune correspondent October 12, 2012 11:50PM
West Side's Curtis Lee intercepts a pass intended for Roosevelts Nico Cole at West Side High School on Friday October 12, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 14, 2012 3:12PM
GARY — These are stats you will probably not find in the IHSAA record book, but in the first quarter of its city duel with Roosevelt, West Side used three onside kicks and 40 yards in penalties.
The former was smart strategy by Cougars coach Jason Johnson, considering the alternative is kicking it to Roosevelt’s Jerry Ruiz, a serious breakaway threat. Roosevelt’s undoing was that it couldn’t find a way to keep the ball away from West Side’s Lonnie Johnson.
Johnson scored three touchdowns and the Cougars overcame 175 yards in penalties as West Side beat Roosevelt 51-0 to win the Gary city championship against the team it will open sectional play against next Friday.
“This didn’t surprise me at all,” said Lonnie Johnson. “They disrepsected us saying that they had an easy route in the sectionals, so we came out fired up tonight.”
Maybe a little too fired up.
West Side got in its own way with penalties throughout the game, but escaped the first 12 minutes with a 14-0 lead. That’s where the three onside kicks come in. Despite two of those three going to Roosevelt (the Cougard tried seven onside kicks all told), the West Side defense held firm, not allowing Ruiz and the Roosevelt offense to take advantage of good field position. The Panthers were held to only two first downs in the first half and seven for the game.
And what damage Johnson and the Cougars defense didn’t do to help keep the city title on Gerry Street, Cougars quarterback Ramone Atkins did. The sophomore was 11-of-20 passing for 226 yards in the first half, including three TD passes.
“We’ll just to come back and do this again next week,” Lonnie Johnson said.
For Roosevelt (3-6), it ended a three-game winning streak. The Panthers had not won four in a row since 2004.