GARY | It’s been a tumultuous week for the West Side football team, with the IHSAA probing its facilities and ruling it unfit for hosting a sectional game.
All that is behind the Cougars now, and Lowell awaits in less than a week in the sectional opener, which will be held on neutral turf, the artificial surface at E.C. Central.
In their final tuneup for the postseason, the Cougars kept their multifaceted offense running smoothly as they beat host Roosevelt 78-6 in the homecoming game for the Panthers on Saturday night and won yet another Northwestern Conference crown.
“Our style of play is to look at what you do and take advantage of it,” West Side coach Jason Johnson said. “We have a high-octane offense. That’s what we do.”
West Side (5-4, 3-0) led 60-6 at halftime, and there was a running clock in the second half.
Roosevelt (0-9, 0-3) only dressed 21 players and lost a few to injuries throughout the game. The Panthers fumbled 12 times, losing half of those to the Cougars.
“If we can win the turnover game it’s going to be a long night,” coach Jason Johnson said. “The more opportunities we get to score, the better.”
West Side forced eight total turnovers and only made one, and the Cougars had a safety, as well.
Ramone Atkins threw for 260 yards and eight touchdowns for the Cougars, while JonVae’ Johnson scored three total touchdowns in the rout.
“I wasn’t frustrated this week,” Atkins said of the debacle regarding West Side’s field.
“I just came out here to play ball. I’m actually glad we’re playing on turf (Friday) because our field is kind of messed up, and the turf could give us an advantage to help us go deep in the sectional.”
Atkins found plenty of targets in addition to Division I recruit JonVae’ Johnson and Ohio State recruit Lonnie Johnson.
DeAndre Lampley, Avery Nash and Christian Jacobs caught first-half TDs from Atkins as well. William Wadley caught a TD in the second half and added a 60-yard scoring run late in the fourth.
Wadley finished with 113 yards rushing and 62 receiving. Henry Smith added 121 yards on nine carries.
JonVae’ Johnson caught TD passes of 24 and 25 yards and had a 49-yard kickoff return TD following a safety. Lonnie Johnson added a 51-yard punt return touchdown to his sole receiving touchdown.
Roosevelt’s Darren Payne showed flashes as a kick returner, receiver and quarterback, and his 5-yard touchdown run in the second quarter prevented the shutout.