Aiming to atone

Photo by Robb QuinnLa Porte's Jeremiah Ruiz rushes the ball in the regular-season finale against visiting Portage on October 18.

La PORTE — Over the years, La Porte has gotten the better of Michigan City on the gridiron.

Recently, however, the series has been dominated by the Wolves, who have claimed victories in four straight matchups, including ending the Slicers' season each of the last two years in sectional finals.

After scuffling earlier this campaign and against City recently, La Porte (2-7) will get an opportunity to exorcise those demons when it meets the county nemesis Wolves (4-5) in a Class 5A sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday at Ames Field. 

Included in City's four consecutive wins was an ugly, 7-3 road decision on Oct. 11.

La Porte coach Jeremy Lowery certainly took notice of the Wolves' exceptional defense, saying that's what he mainly learned about facing them the first time this season when they held the Slicers to only 112 yards rushing.

"Their strength is their defense," Lowery said. "They're very athletic. They put a lot of pressure on you, right now, in your face. You've got to be on top of your game. You've got to know the couple different looks they're going to give you and where those guys are going to be coming from. We're going to have to really execute well and take care of the football.”

Lowery added that normal starting quarterback Collin Bergquist, who hurt his left hip in the first game against City, won't play, but added Bergquist doesn't need surgery, saying he's progressing slowly. He wrestles and plays baseball, too.

"He's a three-sport athlete and it would have been a shame for him to miss the other two sports as well," Lowery added. "It looks like we might get him back, depending on how long we're playing this year, maybe late this year. It's good he didn't have to have surgery. I hate it when our kids have to have surgery."

In Bergquist's stead, Robbie Kiner will start. Kiner played in La Porte's last contest versus Portage, a 20-14 win two weeks ago, and was fairly solid. He finished 4-for-11 passing for 42 yards with a touchdown and he didn't turn the ball over all night.

“Robbie played well in our last game,” Lowery said. “We expect him to play well again. He really did a nice job managing that game and made a couple really nice throws when we needed them. He threw the ball away when he needed to throw it away and made some nice clutch throws when he needed to make some clutch throws. I was really proud of him.”

The winner will face the Munster (0-9)/Valparaiso (9-0) winner in a Class 5A sectional final next Friday night.

The undefeated and Duneland Conference-champion Vikings sent La Porte to a 35-0 loss in Week 2, while the Slicers didn't play the Mustangs.

While La Porte beat the red Indians in its last outing, the Wolves fell 28-21 at Crown Point.

"We're going to work as hard as we can," Slicers linebacker Zach Purnell said. "Beating Portage gave us confidence for the Michigan City game. It's better to come off a win than come off a loss. It should give us confidence and give us an opportunity to win."

In the end, Lowery said it would be so gratifying if his squad prevailed Friday night versus City.

“It's a great opportunity for us,” he said. “We've had our struggles this year, but I'm so proud of our kids because our kids have stuck with it. They've come to practice every day. They've worked hard. They've had a great attitude. This would be a huge win for us."

Class 5A Sectional 9



La Porte (2-7) at Michigan City (4-5), 7 p.m.

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