Due in large part to Merrillville’s stingy defense, and some shanked punts, La Porte was fighting uphill with poor field position in Friday night’s 35-7 home loss.
The Slicers didn’t cross midfield with the ball until almost midway through the third quarter. And they had just three first downs in the opening half.
“We knew that realistically the only way we were going to win this game, it was going to be in a low-scoring dogfight, and a field-position-type-of-game,” La Porte coach Dave Sharpe said. “We just couldn’t get those initial first downs on drives. And we didn’t punt the ball very well.”
Nice ‘D’ stand: After the Slicers lost a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, La Porte’s defense held up admirably.
The fumble gave the Pirates the ball at the Slicers’ 37-yard line, but La Porte’s defense only allowed the visitors to move the ball to the 22, and they turned the ball over on downs after not converting on fourth down and 9.
Another bright spot defensively for the Slicers was nose guard Matt Neff. He had some quality tackles, and he recovered a fumble at La Porte’s own 16-yard line when Merrillville was driving on its first series of the night.
“He’s a great kid,” Sharpe said of Neff. “He’s a battler. He’s one of those guys where we know exactly what we’re getting from him every day. We love Matt.”
Next game up: Even though his team suffered a lop-sided loss, right after the contest Sharpe was already trying to put it in the rear-view mirror.
“Our kids are going to come back,” he said. “They know this is a bump in the road. It’ll be ancient history by (Saturday) morning and we’ll get ready for Crown Point.”
Oh, Danny boy: New Prairie has lacked its perimeter and vertical threat with the absence of Danny Tyler, but the Cougars playmaker looks like he’ll be good to go this week, just in time for mighty Penn.
“Danny gives us that opportunity outside,” New Prairie coach Russ Radtke said. “You add that to it, it makes it all a little more exciting. They get run support from their secondary then if you don’t have (that). He looks OK. He just can’t (heal) the injury without giving it total rest.”
Chris Mays is looking forward to having his running mate back.
“He’s obviously a big part of our offense,” Mays said. “He’s fast, quick, he can take hits and keep running through. He can get outside, he can run down the field and catch a pass, or he can come through the middle and take a handoff. He can do it all.”
Practice does, in fact, make perfect: Michigan City defensive coordinator Roy Richards was more than thankful that his defense once again put on a stellar performance against Lake Central in a 49-6 destruction on Friday night. He was also grateful for his defensive unit having the Wolves’ offense on their side to prep with each week. The high-powered Wolves offensive group challenge Richards’ defense better than most in the area can, which provides proper preparation for Richards and his guys.
“One thing that we have is that our offensive skill is really good,” Richards said on Friday. “So we see that every day and we challenge each other every day in practice, and you’re starting to see how good we are in the open field on both sides because it’s so competitive with the offense and defense during the week.”