AL HAMNIK: Penn gives a defensive clinic at Lake Central

2013-11-08T21:45:00Z 2013-11-30T23:30:09Z AL HAMNIK: Penn gives a defensive clinic at Lake CentralAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
November 08, 2013 9:45 pm  • 

ST. JOHN | Most sports fans hate a defensive tug of war. They want offensive fireworks, exploding scoreboards, literally.

They're not true fans, not real students of the game. They're simply observers.

Friday night's Class 6A Regional 1 championship game between Penn, a football factory, and host Lake Central was for those who love a hefty portion of defense with their meat and potatoes.

This Thanksgiving season gift was no turkey.

Unbeaten Penn came in with six shutouts, including five in a row earlier this season, and was allowing 3.5 points a game. That's just 39 total points, folks. Scrooge wasn't this stingy.

Lake Central had three shutouts, was allowing 9.6 ppg., and had won 15 of its last 18 home games.

It's difficult to beat tradition, however, as Penn won its 14th regional rather easily, 33-6.

"We weren't intimidated. We went after them hard just like we would any other team," said outside linebacker Gelen Robinson. "They're solid with a lot of playmakers.

"We were hoping to have the offense pull through more than they did, but they played hard."

And Penn's defense played even harder, scoring 14 points off L.C.'s five turnovers, including four interceptions, one of them a pick 6.

"They played well. They capitalized," said inside linebacker Trevor Miller.

Much of the pre-game talk centered around the Kingsmen's dominance of the Duneland Athletic Conference (51-10), including a 4-0 record against L.C.

Eraser, please. Those numbers have now changed.

"I'll tell you what. The beauty of these (defensive) guys is they're not big, but they're physical and play hard all the time," said coach Cory Yeoman. "Coach (Chris) Geesman created a great program and I was lucky enough to play for him."

Yeoman actually typifies the kids who play at Penn, where defense ranks only behind academics and wins.

"Cory starred at Miami of Ohio and was the smallest defensive tackle in the MAC at 205 pounds," said a proud Geesman, who now does radio work. "Tough, tough kid.

"But he's no longer 205," Geesman chuckled.

Lake Central scored its lone touchdown on Ethan Darter's 16-yard pass to a leaping Alec Olund late in the third quarter, with Tyler Sousley defending.

So upset was Sousley, he was punching wildly in the air, then trotted back to the Penn sideline and apologized to everyone.

Dude, you were up 26-6.

There was the usual dejection as L.C. players met in the west end zone afterward to hear the comforting words of coach Brett St. Germain, who expressed how proud he was of them for overcoming a season full of adversity.

"We played as a highly specialized unit that could knock down any damn brick wall," Miller said.

"I played alongside my best friends, my brothers, my family, and that made it the most fun for me."

Added Robinson: "We weren't individuals. Each and every one of those guys was like my brother and that made it great to play defense."

The Lake Central 'D' had gaudy figures of its own coming in: 29 sacks, 17 interceptions and 140 tackles for loss.

Sadly for them, the Penn Kingsmen were from another planet.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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