STEVE HANLON: 'Fieldgate' moves sectional game to E.C.

2013-10-17T18:00:00Z 2014-06-24T18:08:28Z STEVE HANLON: 'Fieldgate' moves sectional game to E.C.Steve Hanlon Prep Beat nwitimes.com
October 17, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

Like waiting for the federal government to finally reopen again, or hoping that it stays shut down for the next 100 years like some are pulling for, region football fans were still waiting for word from the IHSAA on Thursday night.

Where will the Class 4A Sectional 17 opener between Lowell and West Side be played?

At first IHSAA sports information director Jason Wille said Thursday afternoon the state association would make a decision by Friday morning. Then, late Thursday night, the IHSAA tweeted this:

"The Oct. 25 Class 4A sectional football game between Lowell and Gary West Side will be played at East Chicago Central HS."

A bad situation got a reprieve. The folks in East Chicago should be given a hug for helping out their neighbors. But this never, ever, should've happened.

Again and again and again.

Dealing with this nightmare situation is unfair to the IHSAA and unique. Sadly unique. Assistant Commissioner Robert Faulkens came to Gary on Wednesday to inspect West Side's facility.

Incompetent administration in Gary is why only one game at one site in the state is giving headaches to all involved. West Side's field was not ready for Prime Time.

The lights cannot be relied on. Two banks were out when the Cougars hosted Morton a few weeks ago. There were issues with the scoreboard, too.

One of the most intriguing openers in all of Indiana has been up in the air all week. Why? Incompetent administration. That's why.

Cougars coach Jason Johnson said there was a group of electricians at the field when Faulkens was there. Huh? Are you serious? Why weren't they there in May making sure the lights were working before the season started?

If so, I'd be writing about something else today and Faulkens could've spent time with his family Wednesday and a very talented Cougars team would be playing at home, like the ping pong balls said.

Johnson said Faulkens wasn't impressed by what he saw at West Side. He's standing in a long line there. They talked about other possible neutral sites, such as Highland and maybe Munster, where the home-field advantage wouldn't be entirely shifted to the Red Devils.

On paper this seems reasonable and fair.

But come on. Someone else's kindness bailing out someone else's repeated foolishness is shameful. This isn't about the kids who proudly wear the blue and orange.

It's about those who call themselves leaders but let this happen.

East Chicago should be applauded for opening the door to its neighbors. It would've been a lot easier to "Just Say No".

It takes countless hours and manpower to put on a sectional football game. You can't throw it together in a couple of hours like West Side has done in recent years, where games were moved or forfeited because of refs not showing up, showing up without being licensed or the lights not working.

An investigation needs to be done and whomever is responsible for this nightmare needs to be rolling carts to folks at Wal-Mart and waving. Good-bye.

The IHSAA did a great job making chicken salad out of this. E.C., again, deserves a High 5. Thank you guys for returning the integrity of this intriguing matchup to the field. The one that works.

Now, thankfully, we can all think about the game and salivate. What will JonVae' Johnson, Lonnie Johnson, Ramone Atkins and Henry Davis look like on turf?

I can feel the electricity on the back of my neck.

If only it could be used to light the bulbs at West Side's field.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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