MERRILLVILLE | On Thursday nights, Andrean football players practice, fine-tune the game plan, then head to the school cafeteria for a pasta meal prepared by loving moms.
The tradition on the eve of the game keeps all players involved regardless of transportation situations and allows coach Phil Mason to show a motivational video and keep his troops focused.
Mason had the perfect DVD for Thursday. All he showed was the last few plays of the Andrean-Jimtown regional game from 2009, back when all of Andrean’s players were in grade school or middle school.
A field goal went through the uprights. A seven changed up to a 10 on the scoreboard. Jimtown won 10-7 on a late field goal. Andrean’s hearts were broken. It was the third of four consecutive regional losses for the 59ers.
“When we watched that, everyone who saw it just got goosebumps,” Andrean linebacker Tylor Petkovich said. “No one said anything. We just knew what we had to get done.”
The only hearts broken on Friday night at Father Eckert Stadium were those of the visiting Jimmies, as Andrean’s fierce defense and balanced offense overwhelmed Jimtown 27-7.
After surviving in five overtimes to win last year’s regional, Andrean (13-0) will host a second consecutive Class 3A northern semistate against West Lafayette (12-1) at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
“I feel like there’s something special about this team. I know someone’s looking after us in everything we’ve done this year,” said Petkovich, who played a huge role in holding Jimtown’s pair of 1,000-yard rushers to a combined 82 yards.
The Andrean defense limited Jimtown (10-3) to 91 yards on 32 carries with 125 in the air.
“We just packed the line of scrimmage and dared them to throw,” Mason said.
“We know we’re big and physical defensively, and we needed that kind of effort.
“We’ve been challenging our defense all year to continue to get better and better, and they’ve done that. Josh Barajas is pretty special, and you’re not going to run to his or Tylor Petkovich’s side.”
Andrean made a late goal-line stand to salt the game away, and the 59ers parlayed the game’s lone turnover into a 20-7 lead with 2:55 to go in the first half.
Meanwhile, Andrean’s running back, Trevor Berg, had a huge night with 19 carries for 140 yards and a touchdown.
“Trevor picked it up and did what we needed him to do, and I thought our wide receivers and offensive line did fantastic,” Mason said.
Matt DeSomer was 16-for-21 passing for 164 yards and a touchdown to Jamie Johnson (5 catches, 84 yards), with seven rushes for 63 yards and a 9-yard touchdown that opened the scoring and capped Andrean’s first offensive possession.
Andrean had 395 yards of offense.