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Hutton: Andrean did all it could to stay close with loaded Luers

Andrean's Tylor Petkovich consoles Senior Mark Dravet after being defeated by Bishop Luers Andrean High School Friday November 16 2012.

Andrean's Tylor Petkovich consoles Senior Mark Dravet after being defeated by Bishop Luers at Andrean High School on Friday November 16, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 19, 2012 1:38PM



MERRILLVILLE — I’m reminded of former Portage coach Craig Buzea’s line when the Indians played Castle in the 1994 state championship game.

Big beats little every time.

The Indians, undefeated that season until that game, had a smash mouth running back named Joe Christian, who was bulldog tough. The whole Portage team ran into an immoveable brick wall that night in Indianapolis. Castle had a hulking, lumbering offensive line and they essentially turned the Indians, a smallish team that used its speed to beat teams, into a discombobulated ant colony.

That is what it felt like watching Andrean at times Friday against Fort Wayne Bishop Luers. The Knights were stronger than the 59ers. They had better players. More experience and more overall speed. They had depth and composure that you just can’t teach. They played like they had been there before — which they had. Luers has won three straight state titles and it wouldn’t be going out on too much of a limb to say that a fourth one is within reach.

At times, Andrean played like a team that hadn’t been in a semistate game in a while, which is the truth. The 59ers last played in a semistate championship game in 2004 — the year that Tommy Finn led them to their only state title.

I wanted to write that the 59ers left it all on the field last week in a five-overtime victory over Lewis Cass. That wouldn’t be true. They left it all on the field against Luers and they were still two touchdowns short.

The truth is, there is no relationship between happened then and last night.

If Luers played Andrean 100 times, they’d beat them 99, maybe 100 times.

If Vince Lombardi was coaching the 59ers, Luers would still win.

I’m not certain that some of the better 5A teams in the area would’ve defeated the Knights.

To the 59ers’ credit, they hung in there the second half, refusing to let Luers turn this into a route.

But there was never any doubt about who was in control even when the 59ers executed an onside kick and recovered the ball at the 48. The Knights, in a way, were being polite, perhaps conserving energy for the state title game next Friday. They more or less deferred on the route.

The disconnect for what Andrean saw and what Luers brought to this game was no more evident than when Jaylon Smith, the Knights running back/linebacker who is ranked as one of the top 10 recruits in the nation, rushed for 165 yards and a touchdown. Smith is playing at Notre Dame next year. Andrean coach Phil Mason said that he loves Smith as a running back. As a linebacker? Not so sure about that.

“I don’t know,” he said. “If I was Notre Dame, I’d want to get the ball in his hands.”

Smith, though, has a long term view of his future. His bother plays running back at Ohio State. He implied that his future in the NFL, which really isn’t exaggerated talk when you consider his enormous talent, would be better if he played on defense. Less blows than running back and longer shelf life. How many high school kids do you hear talking so frankly about the rest of their life after not just high school but college?

“We have a great defense,” Smith said. “I didn’t get to show my talents as much there because we were so good. My heart and passion is on defense.”

To bolster that point, Smith sacked DeSomer on the last offensive play of the night for the 59ers. It was fourth-and-9 and if they were going to get back into it, Andrean had to keep it going. He bull rushed an offensive lineman and grabbed DeSomer from behind. DeSomer stepped up and almost got away but he slipped to the ground. There would be no miracles for the 59ers this time.



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