MERRILLVILLE — Most of the time, three downs was ample for Andrean to move the markers, but even when it wasn’t, these swashbuckling 59ers didn’t care.
Andrean was faced with fourth down six times during its 38-7 Class 3A regional championship win over Jimtown on Friday, Nov. 14, at icy-cold Father Eckert Field.
The first time, the 59ers kicked a chip-shot field goal to grab a 3-0 lead. The next three times, they converted their fourth downs. Only once were they stopped on fourth down, and that was late in the fourth quarter from the Jimmie 28 with the outcome long decided.
“Oh, no,” Jimtown coach Mike Campbell said of whether he expected the 59ers to consistently “go for it” on fourth, “but they’ve got a lot of confidence in their offense — and they should. We weren’t stopping them much. We couldn’t stop the run and they beat us deep a couple times on blown coverages. They were physical up front, they can throw and they have a good running back in (Trevor) Berg.”
In other words, Andrean, which led 31-0 by halftime, displayed a complete offense.
The 59ers (13-0) looked almost that complete on defense, too — and that was even without Josh Barajas at linebacker after the Notre Dame recruit underwent surgery Wednesday to address a complication in his broken finger.
Overall, Andrean was simply the sort of complete that sets a bar for Class 3A.
“We saw the level we need to get to, and we need to keep working hard to do that,” Campbell said.
“It’s working harder in the weight room and continuing to work on our skills,” Campbell elaborated. “We did some things decent, but we’ve got to get to where you can run the ball and sometimes throw the ball on a team like that. You can’t just rely on one thing. We gotta get bigger, stronger, faster and more skilled.”
If it was any consolation at all, Friday’s outcome clinched Andrean, the defending 3A state champ, moving up to Class 4A for at least the next two years based on the IHSAA’s “Tournament Success Factor” points system.
Meanwhile, there were some game highlights for the Jimmies (9-4). They included ever-battling senior running back Nik Olson rushing for 81 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries; both an interception and a fumble recovery by junior Dylan Guldager; and a gorgeous in-stride, 46-yard pass play from sophomore Sam Pawlak to junior Trevor Hobbs on Jimtown’s first offensive snap of the night.
The evening also included the Jimmies being soundly defeated, but never outwardly demoralized. Over the final 29 minutes, Jimtown played the 59ers to a 7-7 draw, even though the 59ers kept their starters in to the virtual end.
“Our kids always fight to the end,” Campbell said, “and we’re proud of them for that.”