Hobart at Andrean football

Andrean's Tyler Thomas, center, tries to maneuver past Hobart's Omena Onomakpome, right, and Orion Yester on Friday.

Kale Wilk, The Times

MERRILLVILLE — Ryan Turley sweated on a hot and sticky night.

The Hobart football coach yelled and encouraged and applauded the play of his Brickies, who were tied 7-7 against Andrean.

The last time Hobart beat the 59ers at Father Eckert Field was Sept. 19, 2008.

To say it's been a while would be an understatement.

"We wanted to make history," Hobart senior Omena Onomakpome said after the Brickies remarkable 13-10 overtime win.

Andrean and Hobart are the Region's top two football programs, when you look at the number of trips to Indianapolis in late November.

Hobart's blue-collar, steel-working image doesn't exactly fit with Onomakpome, who has yet to hear his name correctly pronounced by a press box in the Region.

His father is from Nigeria. His mother is from Puerto Rico. He lived in Gary until he moved to the little village by Duck Creek when he was 5.

He didn't know anything of the Penn game, the Jasper win, the insane winning streak against Valparaiso or the glory of former coach Don Howell.

Onomakpome started playing football in seventh grade. Quickly, he started to understand.

"Those varsity guys back then told me what it was all about," Onomakpome said. "We play hard. We never quit. We are all brothers. That's what carried us through tonight."

Hobart snapped a 19-year losing streak by winning a sectional last November. Then, nearly half the team graduated in June.

Being 4-1 after the program's first Northwest Crossroads Conference game has to be satisfying. Turley's team is way ahead of schedule, even though he would never say it.

One of Hobart's best freshmen groups of all time arrived this autumn. Some are starting to get on the field. Bobby Babcock played a lot in Hobart's secondary, and there is no doubt you all will be reading about this talented kid in the coming years.

"I told the guys at halftime, this is one for the ages," Turley said after the dramatic win. "The Hobart-Andrean rivalry is great and I think this one goes down as one of the best ever."

In this era of instant gratification, immediate news, pin-headed suits trying to speed up the game of baseball, twitching fingers nervously waiting for the latest Tweet from a Kardashian, the smarter among us run away such nonsense.

The pace, physicality and hard-pounding defense of both teams was amazing to watch. For an instant it felt like 1983 all over again.

There wasn't a video game smoke coming off the scoreboard.

This was just old-school Region football, steel-toed and muddy.

What more could anybody ask for?

"I credit our coaches for this season," Onomakpome said. "A lot of people thought we wouldn't be as good this year. We never believed it. I know I can get better. We all know we can get better as a team."

That is a scary sentence.

This Brickies' squad reminds me of the Lowell seniors four years ago. Everyone knew how good those Red Devils were going to be and so far, they've lived up to the hype.

Most everyone in the Region has talked about Valpo's and Lowell's defense being the best in the area. But we all need to add Andrean and Hobart to that group, that discussion.

Both of these teams tonight have a chance to make a run.

Now, I'm going to put The Police on in my 8-Track player and cruise down Broadway, because that's what this game felt like.

An Instant Classic.

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

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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.