HAMMOND | It wasn't a thing of beauty. Unless, of course, you're a fan of postmodern art.
The biggest game in the city of Hammond in the last five years -- Morton at Hammond High -- did not live up to the hype. At all.
"U-G-L-Y. You ain't got no alibi. You ugly. Yeah, you ugly." The old cheer should've been chanted at Bernie Krueger Field on Friday night.
It was a flag-filled affair full of extremely poor special teams, an abundance of dropped balls, even more poor passes, some more flags for good measure, lazy fumbles and a coughing partridge in a pear tree.
Despite Morton's 37-7 win, neither team was ready for prime time. Maybe public access. On a Tuesday morning.
"Yes, I think we played good, for a Morton-Hammond game," Govs coach Roy Richards said. "Everytime we play them it's ugly. It is not pretty. It is a backyard brawl."
Let's be fair here. The teams have to be judged on a sliding scale. The Governors played in the Class 4A Northern Semistate last November. The Wildcats won three games.
Hammond has come a long way, but Friday night shows there is still a long way to go.
Morton now has three weeks to shift gears or the postseason could be shorter than expected.
Morton's offensive line got more holding calls than the Bears' O-line -- although the Govs did block better than the Monsters of the Mediocre.
"Offensively we should've done better; we should've scored 60," Morton wideout Alfred Dickey said. "This should've been a bigger blowout. If we play a real team, like Fort Wayne Dwenger or Cathedral, all the holding penalties will not be acceptable.
"We have to play better than this and we will."
The Wildcats opened the game with a great drive down to Morton's 2. Two running plays were stuffed and the 'Cats short field goal went sideways. In the second quarter a Hammond back was streaking down the sideline inside the 10 and a clipping call across the field was whistled.
Those kind of mistakes cannot take place. Let alone the Govs scoring on a late TD in the second quarter on a long pass to get the lead up to 21-0.
The fact that there was a chance to hang had Wildcats coach Eric Schreiber somewhat pleased. But ...
"Our guys are still learning," Schreiber said. "They're not used to the pressure and the spotlight. We'll be fine. We'll learn from this."
Hammond senior Michael Peavy is one of the region's top skill players. Don't know if there is anyone out there who is better. And the hit he put on a Morton receiver in the fourth quarter, almost a flat-liner, was plain sick.
"He is awfully good," Schreiber said.
Maybe my expectations were too high. Instead of getting poetry I got a Porta-Potty. Everyone at the game got that. But what else should one expect in a neighborhood brawl? Johnny Cash was made to sing before a game like this. Not U2.
After the game, Richards was walking and talking to the Hammond staff and players. He kept saying, "If you guys keep hitting, maybe we'll see you again."
Could it be? Another ugly game between two known foes that will not have any highlights. Only rain on a cold sectional night could make this rivalry any uglier.
Hammond has to keep doing what it's done the last two months. Morton has to, without question, get better.
"That stuff does concern us," Richards said. "Maybe Morton-Hammond can't be a clean game. Maybe all it can be is a dog fight."
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.