CROWN POINT — I learned something a long time ago: if Don Howell speaks to you, listen.
The Hall of Fame football coach at Hobart talked to me in the mid 1990s about what made his Brickies' postseason success so possible. There were a lot of things that got them to 11 state championship games.
But when the weather gets crisp and cool, and rain, sleet and snow hits the gridiron, you run the football. Almost every down. Control the clock. Rest your defense.
And win championships.
Howell also understood one thing: if Tommy Skilling is wearing mittens and earmuffs, you have to run the ball to get to Indianapolis.
If, of course, you play high school football in the Region.
Michigan City coach Phil Mason doesn't buy the old line of how to win postseason games. Despite barely squeaking by Crown Point 17-15 on Friday night on Bulldog Turf, his Wolves have been scoring points like most people breathe.
It's constant and it never stops.
"Hey, we threw the ball around a lot when I was at Andrean," said Mason, who led the 59ers to two state finals appearances just a few years ago.
Coming into Friday's game, Michigan City had scored 56 points in three straight games. That's video-game numbers to say the least. Quarterback Michael McCullough can run and throw and move the chains like few others. Running back Daelon Wren is extremely talented, too.
"We've got exceptional athletes all over the field," Mason said. "You just didn't see that tonight."
"They've put up some prolific offensive numbers," C.P. coach Kevin Enright said. "To stand in there with them is a positive."
Mason said Wednesday's practice was the worst one of the season for his team. It was chilly and it was raining. His team didn't perform well.
That concerns me a bit, because that's the weather we're all going to be seeing in two weeks when the Class 5A and 6A sectionals start in our area.
"I don't think the weather will slow us down," said McCullough, who was 11 of 22 for 115 yards and he rushed for 50 yards on 10 rushed. "Our team fights through adversity. Weather can't affect us, I don't think."
City will play at Munster in two weeks in the sectional opener. Crown Point will host Merrillville in the 6A opener in two weeks, too.
There is one thing now that wasn't here before when coach Howell's philosophy was formed.
"We're playing on turf in two weeks and if we win we'll be playing at home, on turf, against LaPorte," Mason said. "I think that takes the weather out of the equation a little bit."
This autumn has been beautiful. It has contributed to some teams scoring points at will, but we all know that is going to change. And sooner than any of us want.
Crown Point and Michigan City both have a chance to win sectional championships. The Bulldogs offensive line and running back Tyler Gomez are as good as it gets. Like a lot of Region teams, however, C.P. is going to have to be able to hit some passes to keep eight defenders out of the box.
The Bulldogs defense showed how good it is, stopping a runaway train. Linebacker Caden Watson is as good as they come. Defensive end Vincent Smith played big against the Wolves.
On paper, Crown Point has a better shot of making a run, according to Howell. And me. Running teams have an advantage.
But Mason and his team believe if Mother Nature drops a bomb on our area, like she always does, there are places they can go to move the ball.
"Yeah," Mason said with a laugh. "But we're hoping it's warm without any wind."