LOWELL — One by one by one the Griffith Panthers ran onto the freezing field on Friday night at The Inferno in Lowell.
The undefeated Greater South Shore Conference champs and 10th-ranked team in the state were playing the top-ranked Red Devils in the Class 4A Sectional 17 championship game.
A full moon overlooked the clash of two of the Region's historically best football teams.
One by one by one the players in the white jerseys looked east and saw something that wasn't there four years ago. A bleacher full of fans cheering their every move.
That's what coach Ben Geffert and his staff accomplished along with a great group of seniors.
"It was awesome, amazing, to see out community behind us," Griffith senior Kadafi Coleman said. "We're very proud of what we accomplished."
The critics were already chirping when Lowell scored 42 consecutive points en route to a 42-7 win, earning the program's fourth straight sectional crown. Some were almost mocking these valiant young Panthers, who pounded smaller schools all fall while playing in the GSSC. But the schedule these young men played after leaving the NCC after last school year had nothing to do with them.
Earlier this week, Griffith senior defensive end Anthony Compton spoke about the Panthers switching conferences.
"It was like a kick in the face," he said. "Nobody asked us if we wanted to do it. We didn't."
Coleman said playing the likes of Lake Station, Calumet and River Forest didn't help his team against an unbelievable Lowell squad.
"Outside of Michigan City in our first game, none of these teams we played this year gave us any looks," Coleman said. "How could we get better playing bad teams?"