La PORTE — While he might be new to the La Porte-Michigan City rivalry, Jeremy Lowery isn't unfamiliar with it.
The first-year La Porte football head coach knows what this matchup is all about.
The high-energy Lowery will get to experience the animosity firsthand when the Slicers (1-6, 1-4 Duneland Conference) welcome the Wolves (3-4, 2-3 DAC) to Kiwanis Field at 7 p.m. today for their Homecoming.
“It's kind of typical when you get two programs that are close in proximity,” Lowery said. “Obviously, any time you come in contact more with your opponents throughout the year, our kids know them a little bit better than some of our other opponents. Both schools spend a little bit of time in each others' communities and anytime you get that type of situation, that normally makes things a little bit more personalized.”
Lowery knows the rivalry somewhat as well after playing at Penn and being an assistant coach for the Kingsmen. So his prep years and some years later he lived in northern Indiana. As a result, the La Porte-Michigan City rivalry isn't completely foreign to him.
In addition, while serving as Paoli's head coach the last two years, Lowery said his team's biggest rivals were Springs Valley and West Washington. So he added the Slicers-Wolves' rivalry is probably fairly similar to that matchup. Springs Valley is 11 miles west of Paoli, while West Washington is roughly the same distance east of Paoli.
Michigan City, meanwhile, is 12 miles from La Porte, so about the same proximity as those two schools to Paoli.
“West Washington kind of turned out to be more of a rivalry over the years, just because it was more competitive,” Lowery said. “Traditionally, (Springs) Valley was probably the bigger rival of Paoli.”
In recent campaigns, the La Porte County rivalry has kind of been one sided as the Wolves have gotten the best of the Slicers, claiming Class 5A sectional finals each of the last two years and winning their regular-season game in 2018.
“Hats off to them,” Lowery said. “But our deal is it's about us. We can't get too wrapped up in them. We've got to go take care of our football team and take care of our players, and do everything we can to put our best foot forward and continue to improve. Our record isn't where we want it to be, but we feel like we're building a foundation on something that can sustain us in the future.”
It's always a high intensity, physical matchup when these two squads meet on the gridiron.
Tonight shouldn't be any different.
In a highly-charged contest, versus an ardent rival, on La Porte's Homecoming, Lowery has stressed to his players to keep their emotions in check.
“We've just got to go out and execute our plan,” Lowery said. “We know our kids are going to play hard. We know there's going to be a ton of energy. There's going to be a ton of excitement. But at the end of the day, there's certain things we feel like that have got to happen for this game to go our direction and those are the things we've got to go establish and those are the things that've got to be top of mind on Friday night.”
Michigan City at La Porte
at Kiwanis Field
7 p.m. today