CEDAR LAKE | It was supposed to be flag football, but it often morphed into good old fashioned tackle.
Many players from the Hanover Junior Wildcats Coaches and Board Team and the Cedar Lake Police and Fire Team found it easier to corral and hold up ball carriers so their teammates could grab the elusive flag -- similar to the way NFL defenders hold and strip for turnovers.
In the end, the Junior Wildcats team had too much of a vertical game with former Bloom Trail receiver-turned-quarterback Steve Steffek connecting with Rich Green and former Gavit all-stater Brian Demoff for a series of bombardier scoring pass plays on way to a 35-21 victory.
The May 12 game at Hanover Central was a fundraiser for the school's budding football program. Next fall, HC will field an eighth-grade team which will play an eight-game schedule.
"We're very excited about this," said Hanover Central athletic director Jeff Brooks. "We had more than 50 kids come out for the spring program (which included other regional schools), and they should be ready this fall."
The eighth-grade team will be the first stage in what hopes to beckon the first varsity team at Hanover Central in more than 30 years. But even though the goal line is in sight, Brooks cautions, "There still is a lot of work to be done."
The work actually started more than five years ago with Hanover Junior Wildcats, Inc., an organization primarily focused on assisting the school's basketball program.
"But then we began talking about bringing football to the school," said Hanover Junior Wildcats president John Foreman. "But the problem was that even though I played basketball (at Hanover Central), I never had a chance to play football.
"What we were hoping for, with the community growing and more families moving in, that would get some football dads coming in to lead us in the right direction."
Foreman and company eventually ran into Demoff, who attended one of the first HJW fundraisers. Soon after, Demoff organized Hanover Junior Wildcats Football, which eventually begot the Hanover Junior Wildcats Pop Warner program that just had its inaugural season last fall.
According to Hanover Junior Wildcats, Inc. treasurer Jeff Sawaska, this caused come confusion and controversy.
"People began accusing us of giving the money raised earmarked for the school football program to the Pop Warner program," Sawaska said. "But that wasn't true. The money stayed in the account, which we just closed today. Every penny we raised has gone to the school."
Sawaska and Foreman presented a check for $16,642 during halftime of the game. Hanover Junior Wildcats, Inc., which operates separately from its offshoot HJW Football, had already donated $1,500 to school.
"We will still promote the football program, but from this point on (HJW Football) will handle the football fundraising," said Sawaska, who was taken aback by the circumstances.
"I did take it personally," he said. "As the treasurer, that's my integrity on the line. I did manage to get a retraction (from a published story), but more people likely saw the story than the correction."
The Wildcats will be coached by HC teacher Robert Harrison, who played football for Indiana State University. Assistant coaches will be Jason Yurechko and Jake Viehman.
Viehman, an EMT who teaches part-time at the school, played center for the Police-Fire team.
"Our players looked real good (during the spring session)," Viehman said. "We didn't keep score, but we held our own against most of the teams."
Viehman was easily the biggest player among the two teams. But as a Hanover Central graduate, he only got a chance to play basketball.
"I would have loved to have played football in high school," he said.