Hammond- West Side was hoping to be home for the Sectional Championship versus East Chicago. The School Board of Gary donated $20,000 to the athletic department to make sure they would be able to host their first ever Sectional Championship. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the ISHAA came in and said their field was not playable, so West Side had to play the title game at Morton High School.
This is West Side’s second sectional championship game in school history. The last time the Cougars were there it was 2010, and this is East Chicago fourth sectional championship game in school history as well, the last time the Cardinals were there was 1999. Everyone from the start new this would be a track meet between Jon’vea Johnson, and Lonnie Johnson on West Side versus Martayeus Carter and Tre’quan Burnett and it was just that.
There was no shortage of action in the first quarter as the two teams traded scores. Thanks to successful two point conversion attempt the, Cougars began the second with a one point edge, 14-13.
The momentum of the game took a big swing towards the Cardinals in the second, starting with Ramone Atkins throwing an interception. It was all EC in the second, as they took a 34-20 lead into the halftime break. Jon’vea Johnson would lead the Wildcats with 9 catches and 143 yards and a touchdown. Martayveus Carter would lead the Cardinals with 11 carries 179 yards and 2 touchdowns.
East Chicago got the ball to start the second half, and they would quickly add another score on a 58 yard touchdown catch by Tre’quan Burnett. West Side still in the game would answer right back and got two point conversion and was down 40-28. East Chicago would come right back with another touchdown, and that would be their last touchdown of the night on a 66 yard touchdown catch by Tre’quan Burnett putting East Chicago up 46-28.
Then the real fun began West Side would answer quickly on a touchdown pass by Ramone Atkins to Jon’vea Johnson for 56 yards making it 46-36. West Side would stop the Cardinals on fourth down. Then with just under two minutes to go Ramone Atkins found Jon’vea Johnson again for a 54 yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to only two points. West Side tried an onside kick, but were unable to recover. But that wasn’t the end of the excitement.
East Chicago got the ball back, thinking they could run the clock out. After three kneel downs took the clock down to 20 seconds, the Cardinals knelt again on fourth down – a mental miscue leaving 13 seconds left for the Cougars with the ball at midfield.
West Side couldn’t take advantage of the gift as Ramone Atkins threw two incomplete pass to end the game.
The East Chicago Cardinals would hang on to win 46-44 for their first sectional title in school history, despite Ramone Atkins going 24-42 434 yards and four touchdown passes, and Jon’vea Johnson with 15 catches for 356 yards and three touchdowns. Lonnie Johnson the Ohio State commit was held to zero catches in the second half.
“It was hard to simulate West Side, they kept going after us through the air, and they made great plays.” Cardinal coach Stacy Adams said. “They have a great program over there with Coach Johnson. This is a very special win, first time in school history we are bringing home the sectional title.”
“It feels like I just won the lottery,” EC running back Anthony Hunt said. “We couldn’t have done it without the whole team, the fans, the coaches, everyone helped us out on this win.”
Martayveus Carter led the East Chicago Cardinals with 25 carries for 280 yards and three touchdowns. “It’s a great feeling to win this game,” Carter said. “They have great skills. I knew they would be tough and compete with us every step of the way, they are all fast, fierce, and hungry. I ran against Jon’vea and Lonnie Johnson I know what they are capable of.”
East Chicago will be home next week to face Russ Radke and the New Prairie Cougars for the Regional Championship.