INDIANAPOLIS — The crowd was loud. The emotion had all been spent. Every drop.

Lowell's Jordan Jusevitch had tears in his eyes as he held up the Class 4A state runner-up trophy. The Red Devils crowd erupted when No. 6 received his red, runner-up medal.

This dream season turned into a nightmare on Saturday afternoon as East Central found a way in its 14-7 win over Lowell at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"We ran out of juice at the end," said Jusevitch, whose nickname is "Juice," not realizing the irony in the statement.

There have been a ton of great, almost otherworldly No. 6s in the great Lowell football program. Taking that number is a badge of honor. Getting it as an incoming freshman is almost unheard of.

No disrespect to any other No. 6s, but Jusevitch proved to me he is the best football player to ever wear that jersey. And he showed the crowd how talented he is, even in a loss.

His all-around game is one of the best I've ever seen in all my years of covering Region football.

"I love that kid," Lowell coach Keith Kilmer said, a tear coming to his eye.

He scored on a 1-yard run with 5:31 left in the first quarter on Lowell's first drive of the game that gave the Devils a 7-0 lead. I, like too many, got a feeling this game was going to be easy.

But an unbelievable effort by the Trojans' program allowed them to pull out the win.

On 16 carries Jusevitch had 80 yards rushing.

He caught five passes for 85 yards.

He had one kickoff return for 29 yards.

He had eight tackles in the game, tied for second for Lowell in the title match.

"Our defense played great, but they wore us down," Jusevitch said. "We got tired. I was gassed at the end. But I have to put that on me. I take the blame for that.

"I need to work on being in better shape so that doesn't happen."

Indiana University, you've got a keeper in this talented young man.

This Lowell team was full of talented players. That's how they became the first Red Devils team in school history to win 14 games. Nothing should be taken away from these fine young men and their coaches.

But if Jusevitch wasn't playing on this team, I am not sure they would've played this game in Indianapolis.

Kilmer, who hadn't won a single sectional game in four seasons, had a meeting with Jusevitch when he was an incoming freshman. They talked about goals. They chatted about leadership.

They discussed what it took to wear that coveted number.

"I love Juice, I love all these kids," Kilmer said. "We always talk about leaving this program better than you found it. This senior class has certainly done that.

"And Jordan Jusevitch played a big part in that."

No Region player has ever won the Indiana Mr. Football award. Geography and politics have likely contributed to this happening, along with the explosion of football in the Indy area.

This isn't the 1970s in the 2-1-9 anymore.

Tommy Finn should've been given the No. 1 jersey in 2004 but finished second. That is my guess as to where Jusevitch will finish, especially with the way Ben Davis played in the Class 6A state championship game.

But Jusevitch will get my vote nonetheless.

He's the best all-around football player I've ever covered and he put his team on his back and carried the whole town to The Luke.

"It's been a great four years here," he said. "I am so proud of everyone of us. Only 12 teams in the state get a ring. We wanted a blue one. But we got red. Ten years from now we will all remember this and be very proud of what we accomplished.

"We all grew up together. We are all very close friends. We have nothing to be ashamed of."

That is true.

And that is what this is all about.

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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.