The Indiana High School Athletic Association will come to Gary today to check West Side's football field, to see if it is in shape to host the Class 4A Sectional 17 game against Lowell on Oct. 25.
Coach Jason Johnson said Lowell has asked West Side to move the game to the Red Devils’ home field and Lowell likely contacted the IHSAA about issues with the facilities at West Side.
Crown Point native and IHSAA spokesman Jason Wille confirmed Tuesday that the state athletic association does not have a written standard for facilities hosting postseason events. But he said if the two sides cannot agree on the host site, the IHSAA would step in and make a determination.
That is what today's observance is all about.
"We are excited to host this game and we're going to have everyone involved here (on Wednesday) to speak with the state," Johnson said. "Our superintendent (Dr. Cheryl Pruitt) wants the game here. Gary wants the game here.
"We will do everything we need to to get the game here. We're excited about this."
An attempt to reach Lowell athletic director Patti McCormack was unsuccessful.
Field-gate has been an ongoing issue for West Side football in recent years. A game against Hobart was moved because the lights didn't work at the Cougars' field. A game against Andrean was moved to Saturday because no officials showed up.
On Oct. 4 in a game against Morton, everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
A sophomore student was running the clock for the first time and there were several clock mishaps in the game. An announcement was made just before kickoff asking for volunteers to work the chain gang.
Two banks of lights went out and much of the field was in darkness. And there were several complaints about the officiating from both teams.
The IHSAA assigns the refs for postseason play, so that issue would be resolved. Johnson said they've acquired portable generators to keep the lights on.
There is a big competitive advantage if the game is moved to Lowell.
The Red Devils would still be considered the road team which could give them the semifinal at home, too. And if Morton came out of the other side of the bracket, Lowell could play all three sectional games at home.
There is work to do but is there enough time? The IHSAA will have the final say.
"We want to host this game, our kids deserve it," Johnson said. "We're going to do everything we can to make this happen."