LOWELL — Both lads were there on Nov. 21, 2009.

One was playing catch with a football, while the other was standing near the concession stand.

Chandler Austgen's and Jake Mitrisin's eyes were fixed on the field at The Inferno that night, where Lowell edged Fort Wayne Dwenger 24-21 in a Class 4A semistate classic.

"I rode to the game with my aunt and uncle. I was 8," Austgen recalled of the '09 game. "It was a really crazy game."

"My brother Luke was on the '09 team," Mitrisin said. "He was my mentor. I've just followed in his footsteps. It was crazy, going to games every Friday night and watching him play and how far they were able to advance."

On Friday, the two powerful rivals will meet up again in the semistate as top-ranked Lowell (13-0) will play No. 8 Dwenger (10-3) at Homestead High School.

The winner of this game will advance to the state championship at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Red Devils' defense has gotten more headlines than Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Manson and Donald Trump combined. The RDP D has only allowed 6.31 points a game, which is No. 1 in 4A and No. 3 in Indiana. They own five shutouts and went seven games without allowing a foe to reach double digits before the 25-20 win over New Prairie last Friday.

Lowell coach Keith Kilmer knows he has athletes all over his defense, but he said it all starts up front — where the 6-foot-2, 281-pound Austgen and  Mitrisin (6-2, 305) must control the line of scrimmage, and force double teams, in order to allow their defensive brothers to attack the ball.

"All guts and no glory," Kilmer said of his two defensive tackles. "Mitrisin only had one tackle against New Prairie. But he did his job. He played really well."

Like many wearing the black and red, Austgen and Mitrisin started playing football very young. The love of the game and their brothers drew them to some autumnal glory.

Both players are tough and compete at a high level under the Friday night lights. But on other days of the week the story changes.

"They are both nice, sweet young men," Kilmer said. "They are gentle giants. They've both accepted their roles. They don't need the headlines. They just need to force double teams."

Mitrisin has 15 tackles on the season with one tackle for loss. Austgen has 63 tackles, eight tackles for loss and five sacks. But both know these numbers aren't as important as the team.

"The other guys always tell me they need me, that we're doing a great job," Mitrisin said. "I know what my responsibility is. The main goal is for us to win."


Sports reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.