City turning the tables
MICHIGAN CITY — No one had to verse Michigan City players on the history of their football series with La Porte.
Friday’s 52-8 Wolves rout of the Slicers was the most lopsided outcome in the 27 meetings of the schools but for City, it’s just a step in the long road back to getting on plane with their county foes.
“It really doesn’t mean anything,” senior Marquan Hurt said. “This isn’t a rivalry game. They have us down 20-7. We just got our seventh win against them in history. We just have to stay humble. Coach was on us about focus. We have to stay focused. If we lose focus, he’s going to be on us.”
Other than the won-loss numbers between the schools, the digits junior Nate Ware had on his mind were the 42 and 58 points the Slicers hung on the Wolves in the last two regular-season meetings. This one looked a lot more like last year’s sectional game, when M.C. stifled the La Porte running game in a 38-10 blowout.
“We gave them 100 points the last two years,” Ware said. “They tried to do a few things new, but it was easy to adjust. They run trap, power. We knew if we stopped that, everything else would come naturally.”
City hadn’t beaten La Porte in back-to-back meetings before Friday, but it’s a feeling that doesn’t get old, no matter what sideline someone’s occupying.
“Never, ever, ever,” Ware said. “It’s the grind time. It’s our rival. We all wanted it. We were into it the whole week, go mode. It’s homecoming. We were ready. It kind of drove us that it was their 20 to our six. We’ve got to change that. It makes it all the better when it’s 52-8.”
Held to 14 first-quarter yards, La Porte put a scoring drive together before the half and was on the march again in the red zone, when Hurt came up with the first of his two fumble recoveries.
“We just stick to the game plan,” Hurt said. “We look to coach (Roy Richards) for every play. They gave us some new looks. It’s just staying home, discipline, reading keys, all that. We just have to stay focused, keep our heads on straight no matter what anybody says about us, accept us for who we are.”
The window of opportunity for La Porte was a narrow one, but it had some impetus, down 28-8 and on the march in the third quarter.
Caleb Kirkham hit a wide-open Nathan Smith for his first completion, a 33-yard pass play that would have been a 45-yard touchdown if not for the dreaded turf monster tripping up Smith at the 12. That turned out to be crucial moments later when the Slicers fumbled the ball away. City responded with a 92-yard drive that ended any notion of a comeback.
“Who knows. (A score) would’ve helped,” Slicers coach Dave Sharpe said. “We could feel some energy we hadn’t felt all game. It was fun while it lasted, but that’s how good they are. As soon as you make a mistake, they capitalize on it instantly. We couldn’t put two, three plays together, offensively or defensively. We had them in a lot of third-and-uncomfortables and they converted about every one. It was one step forward and two steps back.”
The teams continued their respective trends in opposite directions. La Porte has lost three in a row, while Michigan City has won four straight.
“I like where we’re at,” Ware said. “We know we can improve and we will improve. It’s going to pay off.”