Prep Football

Blueprint for urban rising

2013-08-23T00:00:00Z 2014-06-17T19:33:28Z Blueprint for urban risingSteve Hanlon steve.hanlon@nwi.com, (219) 933-4198 nwitimes.com
August 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

In the early era of Indiana high school football, the champions resided in the city.

The fathers in the stands worked primarily in industry. The sons had a similar work-ethic on the gridiron.

Then, society, and with it Hoosier prep football, changed dramatically. The suburbs grew and the power grid shifted, coinciding with the time the IHSAA state tournament kicked off in 1973.

As this southern migration in Northwest Indiana continued, the city football powers thinned out, as did the wins. Individual stars occasionally rose out of the ashes to play on Saturdays and Sundays, but the unit withered on the vine. Dave Templin built Lew Wallace into a state power in the 1980s and won Gary's lone football sectional in 1989. When he stepped away a few years later, the program fell apart and has yet to recover.

Roy Richards left East Chicago and took over a Morton program that  held the state's longest losing streak in the late 1990s. Step by step, Morton grew to a state power and advanced to the Class 4A semistate in 2010. Richards stopped trying to throw the ball all over the field with his superior athletes and learned to build an offensive line and a power running game.

Entering the 2013 high school football season, the wind is blowing warm over the lake and rusted industry.

Four area programs have great icons of hope for the future of city football. E.C. Central is coming off a school-record 9-win season with one of the state's top players in Northern Illinois-bound Martayveus Carter.

West Side senior Lonnie Johnson has already verbally committed to play at Ohio State. Cousin JonVea' Johnson is heavily recruited as is junior quarterback Ramone Atkins. Hammond coach Eric Schreiber is trying to bring what he learned as a player at Griffith to the young men on Calumet Avenue.

And Morton continues to be Morton.

On paper this should be one of the best autumns for urban football teams. They are locked and loaded and ready to go.

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