We head into the final week of the regular season with everything on the line. As a true Region football fan, you couldn’t ask for much more. The conference races are headed for the finish line and it doesn’t get any better. Hollywood couldn’t have written a better script. The LAC Black and LAC Blue titles won’t be decided until Friday night. Hobart heads to Griffith, and Whiting travels to Kankakee Valley. Some of you probably thought it was going to come down to this, but what a great way to cap off the regular season.
We won’t leave Crown Point out, either. The Bulldogs deserve a mention since they’ve been Region Sports’ No. 1 team all season, but playing Michigan City – a team that hasn’t won a DAC game and limps in on a seven-game losing streak – isn’t as dramatic as the other two conference races.
While we’re at it, how fitting – and sad – that the final football games of the 2006 regular season are the last for the Lake Athletic Conference. The conference stretched its life all the way to the bitter end with meaningful games in Week 9. Here’s one guy who’s going to miss the LAC. I enjoyed seeing games on both sides, from the Whiting-Clark battles to Griffith vs. anybody. I still can’t get used to saying “Northwest Crossroads Conference” or the “Greater South Shore Conference.” I still don’t like the breakup or the fact that the four Hammond public schools are left hanging, but I won’t get into that now. Still, it’s gonna take a while to get used to.
Anyway, back to the last week of the LAC and the two big games. Griffith took care of business against Andrean and Hobart survived a scare from Lowell to set the table for what looks to be a barnburner at the Boneyard. Meanwhile, Whiting rallied to beat Clark in the Battle of 119th Street, and KV did the same by overcoming Wheeler. What a way for both colors of the LAC to give us something worth watching (or listening to) in the final chapter of the regular season.
In the Blue, Whiting takes its 20-game winning streak into the regular season finale in Wheatfield. I’m sure most of you remember a couple of years ago when Andrean had that 21-game LAC Black winning streak snapped at the hands of Hobart at the Brickie Bowl. Clark almost ended Whiting’s last week, but couldn’t hold on. Whiting, the Class A power, will tangle with a 4A squad that’s enjoying one of its best seasons in decades. The Oilers have won the last two LAC Blue titles, but this season it’s the biggest school in the field that finally has a chance to wrap up the title. I’ve said before KV should have been in this position before, but give some props to Whiting for doing what it’s been doing for years. Also, throw out some kudos to first-year KV coach Mike Peo, who is probably still pinching himself.
Over in the Black, Hobart and Griffith – enemies and rivals for years – give us another big game to talk about. I still remember that showdown in 2004 when Hobart came to the Boneyard in pretty much the same scenario. Both teams were unbeaten in the conference heading into that final week of the regular season. Mark Drobac had 110 yards rushing and all three Hobart touchdowns in the 21-7 victory. The Brickies held the Panthers to 152 yards rushing – almost 200 under their average – in the game. That’s exactly what the Brickies need to do this time around. Should be interesting and should be packed.
Griffith couldn’t have asked for a better schedule this season. The Panthers have had only two road games (Munster and Morton) and cap off the season with home dates against Andrean and Hobart. Throw in Morton at the Boneyard in the sectional, and a possible home date with Andrean in the sectional semifinals and you’re looking at some huge gates for the Panthers. The 50-50 alone was worth almost $1,100 at the Andrean game.
Russ Radtke wasn’t kidding when he said he needed to get more shish kabobs. They’ll be plenty to chew on besides some good football.