HIGHLAND — Mamma said there'd be days like this. Right?

Gavit had its home game against Highland moved to the Trojans home field because the 25-second clocks in Hammond weren't working.

Then, at halftime, the Gladiators had outgained the Trojans 130 yards to 26. But they were still trailing 14-0.

And if things couldn't have been worse, on Highland's first offensive snap of the game, Gavit's Andrew Brown came in and got a tackle for loss. Then, one of his teammates landed on the 6-foot-6, 280-pound defensive tackle.

His ankle rolled and the junior's season concluded with Highland's 27-0 win.

"He's the best player in the Region no one has heard of," Gavit coach Robert Robinson said.

Friday night's opener in Class 4A Sectional 17 play was sloppier than eating a pulled pork sandwich while riding a bike.

There were 20 penalties and four more were declined. There were six fumbles. But the Gavit players were not hanging their heads.

They did jumping jacks in the post-game spelling out G-L-A-D-I-A-T-O-R-S. They knew how close they were to changing things on this wonderful autumn night.

"We are this close to turning this thing around," Robinson said, holding his thumb and index finger almost touching in the air.

All of his backfield is back next season. And Brown is back. The fact that this junior is even playing is almost miraculous.

"I was the chubby kid in the back of the classroom reading books," Brown said of his younger days. "When they say 'student-athlete' the student is the most important word."

His 3.8 GPA is fantastic and should be modeled. And there is no doubt it will move him up the charts when the recruiting derby kicks off. Probably today.

"Indiana State has shown a lot of interest," Robinson said. "But if he works hard, and I know he will, we all believe he can play at a much higher level."

Watching Brown warmup in the pregame, I was impressed. He is quick on his feet and he is very strong. And those are the things that haven put him on the radar when most area fans were focusing on Lowell and Valparaiso and Portage.

"It's Ok," said Brown if few people outside of Hammond know who he is. "If you don't know who I am before the game starts, you will after the game is over."

Unfortunately, fate stepped on his foot and rolled his ankle. And a better Trojans team won the game.

"Gavit used to be the team everyone wanted to draw in sectionals," Robinson said. "But not any more. We're getting better every day. I'm so proud of this senior group that's leaving us now and what they accomplished.

"But we've got a lot coming back and we're very excited for next season already."

Robinson credited Highland's Gannon Grider, the Trojans 6-foot-6, 250-pound linemen, son of head coach Trent Grider.

"We couldn't move him, he's a little like (Brown)," Robinson said. "We wish them nothing but the best as they move forward."

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


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.