Week 1 of high school football is officially here.
Starting with today’s editions and continuing up to Friday’s kickoffs, we’ll be running daily previews of our La Porte County teams -- South Central, New Prairie, La Porte and Michigan City -- with a look at each team’s top players and an outlook on what to expect for the season.
As a precursor to the team-by-team breakdowns, here’s a quick glance at each squad and a list of the top players on each roster, just to whet your appetite.
At South Central, there’s going to be life after Kyle Schmack. The big fella is getting ready for baseball at Valparaiso University, but the cupboard isn’t bare in Union Mills, where coach Buzz Schoff will have a more balanced attack. Much will be made of Michigan City’s speed this season and rightfully so, but the Satellites may have their fastest club since, well, I’m not sure when, but believe me, they can run. Schoff has nine players who run a 4.6-second, 40-yard dash or faster with several more who are under five seconds. He’ll be making good use of it on both sides of the ball with a group of fleet pass catchers and a ball-hawking defense. Players to watch include running back/linebacker Jake Osburn, receiver/defensive back Zack Christy, kicker/defensive back/receiver Andrew Karsten, two-way lineman Logan Notaro, 6-foot-7 lineman Brandon Carr and linebacker/tight end/running back Matt Mulligan, a transfer you can read about in Monday’s paper (hint, hint). With a more manageable Greater South Shore Conference alignment and a reconfigured sectional, there’s optimism at S.C.
In a word, New Prairie is enormous. Sophomores Hunter Whitenack, already a high Division I recruit, and Chris McGrew are part of a massive offensive line that averages about 300 pounds. That’s a lot of humanity to protect quarterback Chase Ketterer, a proven runner who can spin the bean given the opportunity. The Cougars have talked about passing more many times before, so we’ll believe it when we see it. That said, Ketterer has the chance to be special, and he has plenty of help with running back Chris Mays and Swiss Army knife Ian Skornog, who can run, throw and catch, as well as man a secondary spot. Nolan Szymanski is on pace to break the school placekicking record held by his brother. Taylor Adams heads a young defense tasked with just keeping NP in the game because the offense is going to score and score plenty.
Can La Porte rebound in Jeremy Lowery’s debut season? The offensive line, with Alex Lewis and Drew Kubaszyk, is a good place to start. Isaac Alexander is back in the backfield, where he’ll be joined by Justin Forker, looking to revitalize an attack that struggled last season. Both will also see time on defense, where linemen Matt Neff and M.C. transfer Javant Hodges and linebacker Jaden Browder will lead the way.
Much of Michigan City’s season is already being boiled down to two games with Valparaiso that will likely decide the Duneland Athletic Conference and Sectional 9. It’s conceivable, if not likely, that the Wolves win all their other games, so we’ll try not to put the cart before the horse here. Last year’s prolific offense set a high bar, but this edition may be right there with dual threat quarterback Michael Bradford, a 220-pound bruiser, and a stable of skill players, including Demetrius Garrett and Kaydarious Jones. The defense can flat out fly, featuring a veteran back line with Marquan Hurt and Brian Walker, linebackers Nate Ware and Robert Jefferson, and Ernie Frierson and Drake Adams in the trenches. City may not be there yet in the trenches, at least in comparing them to last year’s dominating fronts, but there’s plenty of promise in their youth.
There’s a little taste for you. Hopefully, you’re still plenty hungry, so read on this week and all season, in print, on your phone, laptop or desktop, as we bring you across-the-board coverage of all things local prep football.