Prep Football

Andrean's Hamm knows it's all in the family as the grandson of a former 59ers head coach

2012-11-15T18:30:00Z 2013-05-06T22:37:15Z Andrean's Hamm knows it's all in the family as the grandson of a former 59ers head coachSteve Hanlon steve.hanlon@nwi.com, (219) 933-4198 nwitimes.com
November 15, 2012 6:30 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Fort Wayne Luers is loaded with talent, the kind of athletes that brings national scouts around with drooling lips.

The leader on this list is Notre Dame-bound All-American running back Jaylon Smith.

Andrean, on the other hand, has Kyle Hamm. A young man who did not start a varsity football game until his senior year, this autumn.

"Kyle is a classic Andrean kid," said 59ers coach Phil Mason after Tuesday's indoor practice at the Crown Point Dome. "He did everything that we asked him to do and he was still struggling this summer. He did everything he could to improve.

"Then, we switched him to (offensive) guard and it turned a switch on. All of a sudden everything started to work. He just keeps on improving and getting better."

The Lowell senior had a cousin who played on the Red Devils 2009 Class 4A state runner-up team. But when he chose to attend Andrean it was for several reasons.

One was to keep it all in the family.

His grandfather is Pete Billick, the 59ers head coach from 1972 through 1981, where Andrean went 58-42. Billick was a no-nonsense old-school coach, who wore his baseball cap backwards with a sweatshirt damp from sweat.

His wry sense of humor was often punctuated with a short chop in the ribs to the listener.

"He's told me a million stories from the olden days," Hamm said.

The grandfather took his grandson on several trips to Notre Dame, where Billick went to college.

A tough bout with throat cancer ended the coach's career on the sidelines. But he still is around the campus and talks to Mason often.

"He tells me a lot of stories that are relative to the situation," Mason said. "After a big win, he has a story. After a tough loss, he has another story."

His grandson has a story to tell about last Friday's 67-66 five-overtime win over Lewis Cass in the record-breaking regional win.

The words are perfectly crafted from a kid playing his first year of varsity.

"Crazy," Hamm said. "It was the greatest game I've ever seen. The greatest game I've ever played in. Everywhere I go people are talking about it."

The conversation will change tonight when the three-time defending state champs come to town. Few outside of "Da Region" are picking the 59ers to advance to Lucas Oil Stadium for next Friday's state title game.

"We have to play hard," Hamm said. "We have to do our best. Hopefully, we'll get it done."

Like most all of the other games, his grandfather will be in the stands, filled with pride. For his blood and the school he loves.

"It's a great story," Mason said. "I've always said that Andrean is a big family. I think what we've done the last few weeks shows that. Kyle and Pete are just another chapter in Andrean's tradition."

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